3 qualities of engineers I most enjoy working with.. it is do with Culture!

It’s very common for product managers to work with software developers (i.e. engineers) on a daily basis and needless to say there’s a variety of different characters that we come across.


Here are the three qualities of engineers I most enjoy working with, and they’ve to do with company culture.

  1. One who understands the problem statement, knows the system well, and contributes to the solution in innovative ways
  2. One who can articulate his stand/version clearly without ambiguity when engineering has a different opinion
  3. One who is humble enough to validate their technical approach with fellow/senior engineers and architects

There are more, but for me these 3 stand out at the top.

Do share your side of the story.



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.

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


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 on the vision


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*


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.


Innovation at the Speed of Thought!

Innovation Definition

Few expert quotes to kick off:

There’s a way to do it better – find it. — Thomas Edison

Innovation is seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.  — Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Discovered Vitamin C

According to a 2016 survey on innovation, it’s only 20% who perceive the definition to be concrete.


Innovation is one of the most misconstrued terms in modern day information technology (IT) industry, a truly confusing buzzword yet many people love to use it.

Let’s take a step back and approach it bottom-up. The word innovation comes from the Latin root innovatus, which means ‘to renew or to change’. In general, innovation refers to the creation of better and more effective ideas, products, and processes that solve problems and/or enrich people’s lives, and accepted by members of a social system.

Why Innovate?

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. — Steve Jobs, Apple

The day I took on my new role I said that our industry does not respect tradition, it only respects innovation. — Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

Why Innovate

The underlying message is that businesses have to innovate more often to consistently delight their customers and be relevant to them, make it part of their culture, else companies and brands will become obsolete and irrelevant to their target customers

It’s a challenge to both businesses and individuals, and that leads to the next section which is about achieving faster product-market fit.

Being First To Market Is Not Important, Achieving Faster Product-Market Fit Is

Remember, it’s not innovation until it gets built. — Garry Tan, co-founder Posterous

Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall. — Ray Bradbury, American author and screenwriter

Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress. — Seth Godin, author and former dot com business executive

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late. — Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder and venture capitalist

The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing. — Walt Disney, Disney co-founder

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. — Thomas Edison, GE

Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough. — Elon Musk, CEO Tesla

Why Innovate2


In today’s highly competitive world, especially in the IT industry, being first to market is not important at all, competition will catch up fast and we will become irrelevant if we are not innovating.

Instead, being first in achieving product-market fit is supremely important. A faster fit means the product will enjoy maximum differentiation for long and that is the key to long-term business success and market leadership.

There is no dearth of ideas. Ideas are everywhere. Ideas are useless if they are not useful and are not usable. For a faster product-market fit, Execution Loop and its velocity are of paramount significance.

Execution Loop is about doing whatever it takes to win and doing it fast, really fast, at the speed of thought. Typically, it is about:

  • Defining your hypotheses
  • Validating each of them
  • Favoring decisions today over tomorrow
  • Iterating based on learning and decisions

Execution Loop.png

Innovation Myths

Whilst there are many myths on innovation, a few important ones are worth discussing here:

Myth 1: Innovation is about building new products

New products are important, but it’s not all about new products alone. Innovation can beArrow with word  Fact breaks word Myth. Concept 3D illustration. in functions, business models, and processes. Some examples include Toyota’s Global Production System, Dell’s SCM, and even Starbucks’ perception of the coffee shop.

Myth 2: Innovation is for geniuses

The very essence of innovation gets defeated with this myth, especially in the IT industry. Companies waiting for ‘eureka’ moments from geniuses may well die waiting. It is worth that founders of WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter were not geniuses prior to their respective innovations.

Myth 3: Innovations happen in R&D labs

Well, not exactly true, Anyone can contribute to solving problems in new ways.

Hope you enjoyed the read!

Emotional Intelligence – a product manager’s perspective

According to Wikipedia, Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).

EI wp

As product management professionals, we need the EI skill to master our job of product management. We interact with so many different types of people in and outside our company and so it’s extremely important to have complete control over our emotions.

I’m just sharing my views on EI based on what I’ve read in different articles & books. Hope you like the post.

What EI is NOT about!

  • First of all we need to understand that EI is NOT IQ — IQ is mostly about ‘how smart am I?‘ whereas EI is about ‘how smart is my relationship with others?
  • EI is NOT about the triumph of heart over head
  • EI is NOT the opposite of intelligence

What is EI!

  • EI is a unique intersection of heart and head
  • It is about self-management and self-control
  • It is the ability to refrain from making knee-jerk reactions to our emotions
  • It is the ability of listening to our emotions and acting in the best interests of ours and others

In fact, researchers have found that more than IQ it is EI which determines our success and happiness in life. Let’s practice EI everyday, literally:-)

Synopsis: The Art of Product Management

I was fortunate enough to bump into a presentation from Sachin Rekhi (@sachinrekhi) called The Art of Product Management.


It was an excellent read. Here’s a synopsis from it, for my product management friends.

Product managers drive the Vision, Strategy, Design, and Execution of their product.

Vision – articulates how the world will be a better place when you succeed

  • A compelling vision articulates how the world will be a better place when you succeed
  • Get excited about being at least one step forward, one step closer to it
  • Best format: write a customer oriented vision narrative. Jeff Bezos expects a 6-page narrative!!
  • A vision is valuable only if it inspires the entire team
  • Communicate the vision — the power of repetition — just as it takes 7 impressions to garner a response to a marketing message, you need to constantly repeat your vision. Ask your team about what they’re doing and gauge if they are communicating along the lines of the vision, using words & phrases from the vision.

Strategy – iterate & refine until you find product-market fit and you are dominant in your market

  • It’s about how are you going to win
  • A vision should be stable, but your strategy needs to be iterated on and refined until you find product-market fit and until you are dominant in your target markets. Again refine to expand to new markets and find product-market fit there.
  • A better fit leads to a more appealing product for the target market
  • A faster fit means the product will enjoy maximum differentiation for a longer period of time
  • Best format: Product-Market Fit Hypotheses
    1. Target Audience — bulls eye of your very best potential customers
    2. Problem You’re Solving — it’s important to articulate the problem independent of the solution, get to the root of the problem than scratching the symptoms, fall in love with the problem you’re solving for your customers and not with the solution
    3. Value Propositions — not the feature list, but the promise to your customers on the value you will deliver for them
    4. Strategic Differentiation — why is your solution 10x better than the leading alternatives
    5. Competition — how will your solution win against direct competitors and indirect alternatives
    6. Acquisition Strategy — how will you find & attract your potential customers in a cost-effective way
    7. Monetization Strategy — what are your primary and secondary ways to make money, is there strong willingness to pay
    8. KPIs — what are the right metrics for you to know if you are headed in the right direction. Spend time frequently (almost everyday) reviewing critical metrics & dashboards.
  • Minimize your dimensions of innovation. Don’t innovate on all aforementioned dimensions, instead innovate on few and use best practices for the rest.

Design – keep it simple and bring emotional intelligence

  • Work hard and iterate to keep it simple
  • A compelling design delivers a useful, usable, and delightful experience to your customers, by bringing emotional intelligence to your design
  • Develop personas – a persona typically describes the goals, pain points, behaviors, and psychology associated with members of a particular segment. Give them a name, a profile image, and sometimes associate a background history with them. A team usually develops one or more personas to represent the core audience of users they are optimizing their product/experience.
  • Increase Exposure Hours — it is the amount of time your team spends with observing customers
  • Delight through attention to detail and by making people feel accomplished
  • Measure delight through NPS

Execution – it’s not about project management it’s doing whatever it takes to win

  • Be relentless, it determines whether you’ll make your vision a reality
  • You must spend about 60% of your time in execution, else it will go wrong
  • Execution is not about project management, but doing whatever it takes to win
  • Ensure you’re pointing the team in the right direction. Reward engineering velocity.
  • Execution Loop: Define >> Validate >> Iterate
  • #1 Goal: Increase execution loop velocity
  • Establish yourself as the curator, not the creator of great ideas. Everyone contributes great ideas.
  • First nail it, then scale it — first build software quickly (no elegance required in architecture, etc.), validate it, and then scale it with elegant architecture.
  • Invest in retrospectives

Hope you found this blog post useful. Thanks to Sachin Rekhi @sachinrekhi. Cheers!