7 Life Lessons Learned From Product Management


 

Life Lesson

Product managers apply a lot of life lessons into their job, but not many are aware that we start using a lot of our job traits in real life inherently.

Here’s some of them I have made use of.

  1. Ruthless Prioritization: Prioritization is a key aspect in product management. It ensures the company is investing in the right set of features for maximum ROI.
    • This trait helps us product managers in real life in ensuring we prioritize the right tasks that benefit us, our family, and our society in general.
  2. Efficiency: Tactical aspects of product management involves completion of tasks efficiently and in an optimal manner, so more gets done in a shorter time and with quality.
    • Back at home, this trait helps us approach everyday chores, such as buying milk & vegetables, and even watching TV, in a calculated manner to ensure there’s less waste of time, money, & energy.
  3. Work like a team: Product managers cannot survive without a team that helps them visualize their vision.
    • Our life is no different. We need supporting people in life, be it our parents, siblings, spouse, kids, or friends, and we always understand the interests of these groups of people before taking decisions.
  4. Respect everyone’s inputs: Great ideas come from everywhere and product managers keep their ears open always.
    • We cannot ignore our close aides, family, or well wishers’ thoughts and inputs. Regardless of whether all the inputs get materialized, it’s important to give an ear to those inputs.
  5. Say no, with justification: This is one of the toughest tasks for product managers, especially when the request is from CxO.
    • In life, we always deal with people who are not at the same level of thinking as us. We deal with people with old school thoughts, immature/novice folks, and sometimes that high IQ lady. It’s with great challenge we have learned to deny some requests and with appropriate reasoning.
  6. Be available whenever needed: As product managers, we are required to be available to other teams almost all the time during business days, and at sometimes during holidays too.
    • Needless to say, we are just a phone call or message away to our near and dear ones.
  7. Motivate people around: As product managers, we constantly motivate the development teams so that they could churn out builds with high velocity.
    • Back at home, we appreciate several people. Our mother for great food, our father for timely advice, encourage kids to study/play well, and even the maid for a service well done.
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Top 4 things you should NOT do as a product manager!


There are several articles on what product managers should do and what their attributes should be, and even there’s one in my blog.

This time we’ll keep it a little different and see what things a product manager should not do. Here’s my top 4:

1. DO NOT panic in difficult times

Don't Panic

Most teams in product development organizations start with some reference, some starting point, some sense of where they’re starting; however, product managers do not have that luxury. It’s almost a 100% of the time, product managers have to start work and make progress with a clean slate and when things are highly disorganized and chaotic.

A typical day would have at least one of the following situations:

a. Uncomfortably Exciting
b. Exciting Uncertainty
c. Uncertain Excitement
d. Excitingly Uncomfortable

This is where a lot of new product managers find it difficult to handle. The most important thing when we encounter these situations is not to panic.

We’d win half the battle if we don’t panic.

2. DO NOT think your idea is the best

Best Ideas

Let’s agree — most innovations in the history of mankind have come from technical folks. Products managers have to focus mainly on the problem statement, who the target audience is, why a certain problem needs to be solved, and its alignment with company vision. And not get too hung up on the specific idea/solution which solves the problem.

Product mangers can have a perspective of how to solve the problem, but in a competitive open world anyone could have an idea that would solve the problem in the best manner. So, let’s keep our ego and prejudice aside and be open to ideas regardless of where they come from.

3. DO NOT stop communicating

Communicate

Communication is one of the key attributes of product managers. Regardless of the situation (good or bad), whether progress has been made or not, whether the project is on track or is derailing, communication is of utmost importance.

It is with this one tool that product managers look for allies and rally everyone around them in achieving the vision. The moment a product manager stops communicating, he becomes a punching bag.

4. DO NOT lose focus o the vision

Focus

And now the last one on the list — not losing focus on the vision. As a project progresses, there will be all kinds of distractions and chaos, and there needs to be someone who is taking a step back and regrouping as often as optimal to ensure the team is focused on the vision.

And who would that be other than the product manager. It requires a great depth of patience to keep reminding the team about the purpose of the project. Focus is not about moving in a straight line, it’s about aligning with your purpose. If a product manager loses focus on the vision, failure is guaranteed unless there’s some kind of a miracle.

Hope the article is useful. Cheers.

Backlog Prioritization *Further Refined*


continuous-improvement.png

A few months ago I shared a blog post on updated prioritization of software backlog. This has been further refined to simplify the field values and effectively signify the cumulative effect of various parameters.

Check out the new framework here.

For more details on the prioritization approach and right mix of features, see the original post here.

Cheers!