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Inspired by Marty Cagan

It doesn’t matter how good your engineering team is if they are not given something worthwhile to build

Never work hard on something unless you know users and customers want it

Product manager = combine technology and design to solve real customer problems

Top-10 biggest problems with a waterfall approach

  1. Ideas should not be sourced from sales-driven specials and stakeholder-driven products. Lacks team empowerment. They’re just there to implement
  2. Don’t make decisions based on how much money it will make and how much it will cost to develop because we have no idea
  3. Product roadmaps don’t work because they are just a prioritized list of features and projects and we don’t know what is going to work and if they do work, they take several iterations
  4. The role of product management is not to gather requirements and document them, which is what tends to happen
  5. Design is too late in the game and performs “lipstick on the pig”
  6. Engineers are brought in way too late. If all you use them for is coding, you are only getting half of their value. — They are typically the best single source of innovation; yet, they are not even invited to the party
  7. You are only agile for delivery
  8. Too project-centric. Projects are output and product is all about outcome
  9. Customer validation happens way too late

One of the biggest forms of waste is to design, build, test, and deploy a feature or product only to find out it is not what was needed

Tackle value, usability, and feasibility risks upfront

Product, design, and engineering should work side by side in a give and take way to come up with technology powered solutions that our customers love

Its all about solving problems, not implementing features

We need to discover the product to be built, and we need to deliver that product to market

Product discovery answers:

  1. Will the user buy this (or choose to use it)?
  2. Can the user figure out how to use this?
  3. Can our engineers build this?
  4. Can our stakeholders support this?

Prototypes are quick, inexpensive experiments which assess different risks and situations with less time and effort than building a product

Strong teams test 10–20 product ideas per week

Product/Market fit means the smallest possible actual product that meets the needs of a specific market of customers

Product vision is the long term objective of the product, usually 2–10 years out

Strong product teams work nothing like most teams

The minimal viable product should actually be a prototype, not a product

Use prototypes for discovery and products for delivery

Its all about the product team

A product team is a group of people who bring together different specialized skills and responsibilities and feel real ownership for a product

We need teams of missionaries, not teams of mercenaries. Mercenaries build whatever they’re told to build. Missionaries are true believers on the vision and are committed to solving problems for their customers

A product team is given clear objectives and own delivering on those objectives

Minimize dependencies between teams

Collaboration is built on relationships

To innovate, you need expertise

Dont rest until your product and solution is working for the users and the business

The product manager needs to be among the strongest talent in the company. If the product manager doesn’t have the technology sophistication, doesn’t have the business savvy, doesn’t have the credibility with the key executives, doesn’t have the deep customer knowledge, doesn’t have the passion for the product, or doesn’t have the respect of their product team, then it’s a sure recipe for failure

The product manager is responsible for evaluating opportunities and determining what gets built and delivered to customers

The engineers and designers want to see some evidence that what you’re asking to build is truly worth building

4 key responsibilities of a strong product manager

  1. Deep knowledge of the actual users and customers
  2. Deep knowledge of the data and analytics ☆ Start your day with half an hour or so of analytics tools to understand what has been happening the past 24 hours
  3. Deep knowledge of your business
  4. Deep knowledge of your market and industry

You need to be substantially better to motivate a user or customer to switch

We must create products for where the market will be tomorrow, not where it was yesterday

A successful product manager must be very smart, creative, and persistent

Start by becoming an expert in your users and customers

Work to establish a strong relationship with your key stakeholders and business partners. Convince them you understand the constraints they operate under and that you will only bring them solutions that you believe will work within those constraints

The product manager is not the boss of anyone

You must not be afraid to lead and it must be a top quality

Take an introduction to business accounting and finance class

Product designers should be measured by the success of the product, not the output of their design work

UX is any way that customers and end users realize the value provided by your product

Questions to consider for customer interaction:

How will customers first learn about the product?

How will we onboard a first-time user and reveal new functionality?

How might users interact at different times during their day?

What other things are competing for the user’s attention?

How might things be different for a one-month-old customer versus a one-year-old customer?

How will we motivate a use to a higher level of commitment to the product?

How will we create moments of gratification?

How will a user share his experience with others?

How will customers receive an offline service?

What is the perceived responsiveness of the product?

Few tech companies understand the importance of design talent including interaction and visual design

Do not get all nit picky about design details with the very early iterations. Encourage the designer to feel free not to just iterate on the particular design approach but to explore alternative solutions to the problem

We need design to discover the right product

Your job is to bring information to your team and them to discuss the various potential solutions to these problems

Make the engineers feel like missionaries and not mercenaries. You do this by involving them deeply in the customer pain you are trying to solve and in the business problems you face

Ensure a consistent and effective user experience systemwide

Product manager’s primary product responsibility is ensuring that the engineers have a product worth building

Phase out products that no longer carry their own weight, and reduce the investments in our cash-cow products so that we can invest more in future sources of revenue and growth

Product team: One product manager, one designer, two engineers

Start with the product vision, come up with an architectural approach to deliver on that vision, and then design the teams around that architecture

Architectures drive technologies, which drive skill sets

The organization’s needs should and will change over time

Critical context to keep in mind:

  1. The overall product vision
  2. The specific business objectives assigned to each team

It is hard to cause dramatic change in a large and financially successful company. Pain usually causes the motivation to change

There is no such thing as over communication

A continuous stream of prototypes helps keep people excited about what the future will bring

Trying to please everyone at once will certainly please no one

7 key principles for an effective product vision

  1. Start with why
  2. Fall in love with the problem, not the solution
  3. Think big with vision
  4. Disrupt yourself
  5. Use it to inspire people
  6. Embrace relevant trends
  7. Skate to where the puck is heading.

Key principles for product strategy

  1. Focus on one target market or persona at a time. Don’t try to please everyone in a single release. The product will still be useful for others, but at least it will be loved by some
  2. Obsess over customers, not competitors
  3. Communicate the strategy across the organization — Product principles speak to the nature of the products you want to create

MBO — management by objectives

OKR — objectives and key results

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity” — George Patton

Measure performance by results

Critical points for OKRs:

  1. Objectives must be qualitative
  2. Key results should be a measure of business results
  3. Objectives should focus on the organization’s objectives
  4. Objectives should cover what the team needs to accomplish

Keys to Evangelism:

  1. Use a prototype
  2. Share the pain
  3. Share the vision
  4. Share learnings generously
  5. Share credit generously
  6. Give a great demo
  7. Be genuinely excited

If you want to discover great products, it really is essential that you get your ideas in front of real users and customers early and often

Product discovery should answer these questions:

  1. Will the customer buy this, or choose to use it?
  2. Can the user figure out how to use it?
  3. Can we build it?
  4. Does this solution work for our business?

We can’t count on our customers to tell us what to build. They don’t know what’s possible

Coming up with a good user experience is most critical to success

Functionality, design, and technology are inherently intertwined

A good idea is one that solves the underlying problem in a way that customers will buy, they can figure out how to use, we have the time and skills and technology on the team to build, and that works for the various aspects of our business

Discovery framing: agree on the business objective we’re focused on, the specific problem we are intending to solve for our customers, which user or customers you’re solving that problem for, and how you will know if you’ve succeeded

Fall in love with the problem, not the solution

Write a press release of what it would be like once this product launches. How does it improve the life of our customers?

Do you wish you would write more? Today’s your lucky day, twos is now available. What’s twos? Twos is the solution to your writing problem. Now it is easy to write anything down fast and even easier to keep it all organized. This will help everyone write more down, stay organized, and help share more of ourselves with each other.

If you can discover a solution that your customers love, then you can tackle the risks of monetization and scale

What to learn from customer interviews:

  1. Are your customers who you think they are?
  2. Do they really have the problems you think they have?
  3. How does the customer solve this problem today?
  4. What would be required for them to switch?

You are not trying to prove anything during a customer interview. You’re just trying to understand and learn quickly

Ebay’s “Everything Else” category

Hack days are a great way to get out ideas and build a team of missionaries

“Plan to throw one away; you will, anyhow.” — Fred Brooks

One of the key benefits of prototyping is to force you to think deeply through a problem which may expose major issues otherwise left uncovered until much later ☆ Watch what users do more than what they say

Get an understanding of how your target users think about this problem and to identify places in your prototype where the model the software presents is inconsistent or incompatible with how the user is thinking about the problem

Good teams have a compelling product vision that they pursue with a missionary like passion. Bad teams are mercenaries

Good teams get their inspiration and product ideas from their vision and objectives, from observing customers struggle, from analyzing the data customers generate from using their product, and from constantly seeking to apply new technology to solve real problems

Good teams ensure that their engineers have time to try out the prototypes in discovery every day so that they can contribute their thoughts on how to make the profit better. Bad teams show the prototypes to the engineers during sprint planning so they can estimate

Good teams know that many of their favorite ideas won’t end up working for customers, and even the ones that could will need serveral iterations to get to the point where they provide the desired outcome. Bad teams just build what’s on the roadmap, and are satisfied with meeting dates and ensuring quality

Good teams understand the need for speed and how rapid iteration is the key to innovation, and they understand this speed comes from the right techniques and not forced labor. Bad teams complain they are slow because their colleagues are not working hard enough

”Customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.” — Jeff Bezos

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