The Whiteboard
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The Whiteboard

Here’s what a Google exec said about Product Management

Mr. Rosenberg is a long time advisor to Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet

I recently had the opportunity to attend a talk by Jonathan Rosenberg, long time advisor to Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet & author of the best selling “How Google Works”. Mr. Rosenberg also previously served as SVP of Product Management at Google, overseeing the design, creation, and improvement of the company’s innovative product portfolio. Before joining Google in 2002, he founded and led innovative product development teams of the Internet’s first era, including teams and operations at @Home and Apple Computer. Mr. Rosenberg was speaking at Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin Business School.

In his hour long talk, Mr.Rosenberg talked about many different things, but here are some of the nuggets that really stayed with me.

On Business/Products/Strategy

  • Most Business schools teach you how to avoid risks, not how to maximize speed
  • The factors of production are changing from Land, labor and capital to free information, internet and free computing cycles.
  • General purpose technologies (e.g. Steam, electricity etc) were slow to develop, but with democratization of internet today’s technologies proliferate much faster.
  • When people search for products, better ones will always come to the top, organically.
  • Every Product at Google has some deeper purpose/technical insight. Always ask what is the technical insight that your product offers?
  • Finding great Product Managers is hard. They are a rare species .

On Org Culture/innovation/Running Teams

  • Prototypes always work better than Powerpoint slides.
  • Innovation happens in small teams.
  • When hiring Product Managers, look for simplicity & passion- not complicated answers. Its easy to make things complicated
  • As a manager, you are only as good as the people you hire.
  • Start every meeting with Data.
  • There are no eureka moments in innovation — innovation a long process. involves difficult iterations, learnings & heartbreaks.
  • Set VERY VERY aggressive goals, . If all your metrics are green- you are thinking small.
  • Don’t just say “its okay to fail“. Set your objectives such that failure is acceptable. Sign up for crazy goals, that’s what moves the needle.

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