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The silver bullet of Product Management…

Having written this does not mean that I stand at a higher moral ground on this topic, in fact, I did exactly the opposite of what I am supposed to suggest, on this very Friday, just before this article was written.

There goes my credibility, but if you can look past it then let's continue.

The silver bullet according to me in the entire universe of Product Management is, drum roll, INVOLVEMENT.

Yes you read it right, the one thing I swear by, that has saved my derriere so many times, and in fact, has contributed to the success of my projects in Involvement.

Let’s start with what I mean by Involvement.

For me, there are 3 Major Involvement types that you have to conjure together to make your product a success.

  1. User/Client Involvement
  2. Engineer/Designer/CPO/CTO/Stakeholder Involvement
  3. Your Involvement.

Let’s start with the last one in the list, as I believe, instead of going directly to the users and throwing them some bunch of feedback forms, you should first take a step back yourself, understand the issue, what is the situation, what are the goals and what is the desired outcome.

3. Your Involvement

As always, it starts with you, as I say you as the Product Owner/Manager hold the key.

You are the key to a successful product.

As you need to clarify -

  • How the product roadmap should look like?
  • What the stakeholders are expecting? (this is important, aligning your priorities with the company’s priorities will make your life much easier)
  • Who actually are the user/viewer/reader?
  • How can you reach them?
  • What is the best way to reach them?
  • What is the best way to gather feedback and socialize it?
  • and the list goes on….

All these activities might not be sequential but your involvement with the entire pre and post-development is of utmost importance. I would try to expand more on each of these in upcoming posts.

  1. User/Client Involvement

You might have heard a zillion times things like start with the user, user-centric design and development, empathising with the users, and you know what everything is correct.

So I would say if you are the key then users are the lock, a combination lock (read on for how to the combination)

Your users are the lock.

There are many advantages to keep users at the center of a product development that you can easily google. But let me give you an excerpt from my own product life.

There was this project that nobody wanted to pick, as it required a ground-up overhaul and the client was famously uncertain about requirements, with changing them on the fly making development almost impossible ( i am pretty sure you know this client in your life as well.).

With the super limited resources and time, I just used them at every stage, I mean every stage. As I was the designer, architect, product owner, release manager, technical lead, developers shrink, client’s shrink, coffee boy, you name it I was it. I had to outsource and outsource I did.

It started with the discovery phase, I and the lonely developer, and the sessions were so lonely. But one idea that came out of one of those lonesome afternoons was, why don’t we involve that overly chatty client.

And that was it, let’s outsource the thinking, the barnstorming, the testing back to the client. And what followed was unprecedented, with each meeting the involvement increased, and soon after it became an improvement.

And the client user became our internal advocate. Remember that term finding an internal advocate in the user pool is what you are looking for, as our internal advocate was the key to our success.

2. Engineer/Designer/CPO/CTO/Stakeholder Involvement

Here comes your combination to the lock, because your team will provide that combination, and hence it is very important that you make them involved throughout the process.

Engineers, being one myself, are most happy when the requirements are clear (which will never be, so you just have to play mum with them), and they have good enough time (which they will never have) to develop those very clear requirements.

Happy teams give out the best combinations to the lock you are trying to unlock.

So how to make the team more involved?

  • For starters bring them in when you are meeting a client for requirement gathering, you would be surprised at how much fruitful that meeting can get
  • Give them enough freedom to find the way to get the combination (acceptance criteria), as long as they reach there
  • Be agile, in its truest sense, be nimble, change with the flow, but at least follow the 2-week sprint deployment rule
  • Whenever you believe the deployment is good for the client to bring into the review, bring them in, and the appreciation that the team hears from the clients or users go a very long way, they will go into the weekend happier, provided you do your reviews on Friday.

I know the title was a bit clickbaity, but after going through it if you think it made sense to you, please write your comment and let me know…..

And if it did not make sense, then please do not write anything….

No seriously, write whatever you think of it your feedback is highly appreciated….

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