It’s YOUR product, right?

One of the best pieces of advice I got when starting out as a product manager was from my then CEO. Well him being the firebrand that he is, it was more of an experience than advice, but it had the same effect. :)

I was in charge of the company website, and by that I mean I was designing a newer version (“the developers are waiting”), a mobile friendlier design(“mobile is the future”), oh, SEO (“we can’t keep paying for traffic”), and other miscellaneous firefighting, tending to whichever blaze burned tallest at that moment.

Image courtesy:

The problem with this approach is that I was ALWAYS busy. But I was not really doing anything useful, either for myself, or for the team.

One day, another very busy day at the fire station, the CEO walked past, asking, “How’s the conversion looking?”. “Let me get that for you”, I said, starting to log into the analytics dashboard.

“So you don’t know?”, he asked stopping to turn around.

“I do, it’s there in the dashboard, I just need to pull it up.”, I said, fingers still working the keyboard.

“It is YOUR product, right?”, he continued.

“Yeah, I just…”

“Anybody can run a query, read out data from the dashboard. But you’re the product OWNER. If I ask you right now, how many kms your car has done, would you know it?”

“Yeah, around 5000 kms”

“Yeah. So, how’s the conversion numbers looking?”, he asked, walking back to his seat.

Ownership means that you are responsible for the product, everything that it does or doesn’t do, and how well or badly it does whatever it is supposed to.

To distill that vague and all-encompassing definition into something bite-sized, identify 3 metrics by which you want to define your product’s performance. Your finger on the product’s pulse, so to say. For me, those were daily unique users, conversion rate and bounce rate.

For the record, conversion was ~11% that day. And in 6 months, we improved it to ~20%.

I’m taking up the 52 Week Writing Challenge, and my “thing” is to “write about the mistakes I’ve made as a product manager”. This is my first post in a while, and I just realised, it has become seriously difficult to type out more than 140 characters at a time. :)

If you found this useful, hit the like button to recommend this article to your friends, and to keep me going for another week! :)