Notes on Product Management

Here are some points I hope to remember after reading through Den’s very helpful resources for Product Managers:

Want To Build An Incredible Product? Strive For The Delta Of “Wow” (Wayne Chang)

  • We shouldn't aim for MVPs

    • You only get one chance to make a great impression. Why would you test your product externally so early on and waste that opportunity?

  • Minimum Lovable Product

    • Product that is so intuitive, so satisfying to use, that your customer base can’t help but tell someone else about their experience.

    • This is what people invest in!

  • Do something so great, something they didn’t expect, that they have to tell someone else.

    • Delta of “wow” saves resources down the road

      • Cuts down on sales cycles —  people start talking about the product for you.

      • Reduces need for marketing and “user acquisition.”

      • Makes customers feel like they’re part of something special, a community, instead of just purchasing a service from a vendor.

  • Don’t engineer solutions. Engineer emotions.

  • If a user expects their experience to be painful, and it’s the opposite of that — it’s intuitive, surprising, gratifying — you’ve won them over.

What distinguishes the Top 1% of product managers from the Top 10%? (Ian McAllister)

  • Don't be constrained by resources

  • Use data appropriately, when available, but they'll also tap into other biases, beliefs, and triggers that can convince the powers that be to part with headcount, money, or other resources and then get out of the way

  • Get 80% of the value out of any feature or project with 20% of the effort

  • Balance offense and defense projects appropriately

    • Offense: projects that grow business

    • Defense: projects that protect and remove drag on business

Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager (Ben Horowitz)

  • Good PMS:

    • Don’t give direction informally.

    • Gather information informally.

    • Think about the story they want written by the press.

    • Send status reports in on time every week, because they are disciplined.

  • Bad PMS:

    • Point out that they predicted they would fail when they fail.

PM at Microsoft (Steven Sinofsky)

  • (Position started at MS developing Excel for Mac)

  • Advocate for end-users and customers

  • Where developers were focused on code, architecture, performance, and engineering, the PM would focus on the big picture of "what are we trying to do" and on the details of the user experience, the feature set, the way the product will get used

  • You will see how easy it is to over-emphasize early power user feedback or anecdotes over broad based feedback.

    • Power users are great but they are just one type of user.

    • Most people are not techies, but most beta customers and most early adopters are so you as a PM have to do the leg work to validate your work with a broader audience

  • Gradually expand the number of customers involved

  • MVP are power users

  • A PM needs:

    • Strong interest in what computing can do -- a great interest in technology and how to apply that to problems people have in life and work

    • Great communication skills -- you do a lot of writing, presenting, and convincing

    • Strong views on what is right, but very open to new ideas -- the best PMs are not necessarily those with the best ideas, but those that insure the best ideas get done

    • Selfless -- PM is about making sure the best work gets done by the team, not that your ideas get done.

    • Empathy -- As a PM you are the voice of the customer so you have to really understand their point of view and context

    • Entrepreneur -- as a PM you need to get out there and convince others of your ideas, so being able to is a good skill