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On Product Management

04 March, 2020 - 34 min read


Peter Thiel, in his book, Zero to One, outlines his belief that the biggest insights in life are “hidden in plain sight” — concealed only by our preconceptions or tendency to accept realities as they are (complacency). Thiel uncovers those insights by: “Tell me something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you on.”

The product manager's ultimate quest is to answer this question — “what is hidden in plain sight?”

In order to answer this question, product manager should be a generalist. As engineering and design becomes more specialized, the generalists fill the gap. The write-up below is a compilation of personal notes taken over the last couple years by reading, observing other product managers or taking on the role at a smaller scale.

Understanding key areas of Product Management

  • Understand the industry, market and users (outward looking)

    • domain knowledge of an industry. Use the following Porter’s Five Forces to do an industry analysis.

      • threat of new entrants: how hard is it to enter an industry?
      • bargaining power of buyers: how easily can buyers drive our prices down? How well can they negotiate?
      • threat of substitutes: how else can customers satisfy the same need?
      • bargaining power of suppliers: how easily can suppliers drive their prices up? How well can they negotiate?
      • rivalry among existing competitors: how many competitors are in an industry? How strong are they?
    • competitive analysis to understand market trends — product, business and customers
    • find direct and indirect competitors
    • user studies by spending a lot of time with users and understanding their pain
  • Understand the business objectives and goals (inward looking)

    • business strategies to understand how the organization fits in the market
    • business goals to understand key initiatives
    • strategy does not mean goal (goals only talk about why; a strategy also explains how)
    • a strategy is: choosing what to do and what not to do, a series of trade-off decisions, a quest for competitive advantage, about being different (not merely better), focusing a company’s resources on the most critical issues
    • the ultimate goal of a strategy is to help us gain a competitive advantage, which leads to better financial results
    • strategies may consist of being unique (Apple, Whole Foods, etc.), cost differentiator (Walmart, Ikea, etc.), customer segmentation by being the best in the niche market (Porsche) or a blue ocean strategy to escape competition by creating new markets and industries, by combining cost-leadership and differentiation. It eliminates certain competing factors (low-cost aspect) and focuses on those that matter the most to customers (differentiation aspect). Airbnb and Salesforce are some of the examples
    • seek out to management to understand what kind of frameworks does the company use. Six-sigma and Objective Key Results (OKRs) are commonly known
    • know how business model is creating, delivering, and capturing value
    • know financial modeling behind business, product and customers to mitigate risks and losses
  • Understand teamwork

    • communicate the what and the why. But if the team doesn't agree, then you have to revisit those whats and whys
    • during collaboration, anybody can challenge the core fundamental assumptions
    • you can't win without your team, and you certainly won't succeed without their backing
    • there should be no feeling of rank, everybody has the same ownership of impact across data, design, engineering, product, communication and critique
    • seek collaboration not consensus with your team
    • collaboration, communication and inclusion are essential
  • Understand priorities

    • build a roadmap based on market research, user research and business objectives
    • communicate with team members and get a buy-in from everyone involved
    • consistent decisions around roadmap prioritization and tradeoffs
  • Understand metrics

    • be metrics driven to define the success of product/feature delivery
    • use time series data to get insight into what people are doing with the product and see if the changes made are improving user goals
    • if you are not measuring metrics you are just guessing
    • know metrics at a business level: ROI, fixed costs, variable costs, etc.
    • understand metrics at a product level: monthly/annual recurring revenue (MRR/ARR), customer acquisition cost (CAC), active users, customer churn, etc.
  • Understand stakeholder's expectations

    • communicate roadmap and metrics with your stakeholders
    • sign-off on deliverables, timeline and metric success
  • Understand the impact on cross-functional teams

    • everyone internally needs to be on the same page when changes roll out
    • you are the point of contact for all things related to the product
    • build credibility and trust within an organization
    • negotiate and resolve conflicts while ensuring everyone knows what product & feature progression means
  • Understand user expectations (pre-build and post-build)

    • users need to see that the product is continually improving by hearing about it from you
    • communicate upcoming changes to external customers
    • communicate upcoming release with external users
    • document changelog and announce release to internal and external users
  • Understand operations and execution

    • develop product vision
    • capture feature requests in stories and epics with clear and concise acceptance criteria
    • build conviction about where things are going in the future and communicate with external and internal customers
    • make hard calls about what to eliminate
    • setting up timeline and milestones
    • showcase work-in-progress demos to internal stakeholders
    • delight customers with new features in beta period
    • continuously improve quality by fixing bugs

What is product management?

Customers don't have needs, they just want to make progress within the system they belong. — Alan Klement

A good product takes chaos and creates order. — Brian Nogard

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. - Michael Porter

Product management is an organizational function within a company dealing with new product development, business justification, planning, verification, forecasting, pricing, product launch, and marketing of a product or products at all stages of the product lifecycle.

  • Product Lifecycle: product lifecycle management is the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from inception, through engineering, design, prototyping and manufacture, to service, maintenance and disposal of products. Products have a limited life and thus every product has a life cycle.
  • PLM vs PLCM: product lifecycle management (PLM) should be distinguished from product life-cycle management marketing (PLCM). PLM describes the engineering and design aspect of a product, from managing descriptions and properties of a product through its development and useful life. PLCM refers to the commercial management of life of a product in the business market with respect to costs and sales measures.

Why is there a need for product life cycle management?

The goals of product life cycle management (PLM) are to reduce time to market, improve product quality, reduce prototyping costs, identify potential sales opportunities and revenue contributions, maintain and sustain operational serviceability, and reduce environmental impacts at end-of-life.

To create successful new products the company must understand its customers, markets and competitors.

PLM solutions help organizations overcome the increased complexity, engineering and design challenges of developing new products for the global competitive markets.

How to extend product lifecycle?

Once the product reaches maturity, organizations desire to extend the product life cycle to maximize revenue. Some of the following ways to extend the product lifecycle are:

  • Advertising: its purpose is to get additional audience and potential customers
  • Exploring and expanding to new markets: by conducting market research and offering the product (or some adapted form of it) to new markets, it is possible to get more customers
  • Price reduction: many customers are attracted by price cuts and discount tags
  • Adding new features: adding value to the product to enhance its usability or to attract the attention of a wider customer base
  • Packaging: new, attractive, useful or eco-friendly packaging influence the target customers
  • Changing customer consumption habits: promoting new trends of consumption can increase the number of customers
  • Special promotions: raising interest by offering giveaways and other offers

What are stages of product lifecycle?

These are the following well known product life cycle stages:

  • Market introduction stage

    • costs are very high
    • slow sales volumes to start
    • little or no competition
    • demand has to be created
    • customers have to be prompted to try the product
    • makes little money at this stage
  • Growth stage

    • costs reduced due to economies of scale
    • sales volume increases significantly
    • profitability begins to rise
    • public awareness increases
    • competition begins to increase with a few new players in establishing market
    • increased competition leads to price decreases
  • Maturity stage

    • costs are decreased as a result of production volumes
    • sales volume peaks and market saturation is reached
    • increase in competitors entering the market
    • prices tend to drop due to the proliferation of competing products
    • brand differentiation and feature diversification is emphasized to maintain or increase market share industrial profits go down
  • Saturation and decline stage

    • costs become counter-optimal
    • sales volume decline
    • prices, profitability diminish
    • profit becomes more a challenge of production and distribution efficiency than increased sales

What is the role of a product manager?

A person who is responsible to set overall vision, direction, capability, quality and delivery of products. A PM ensures roadmap is prioritized to address market opportunities, and lead the product management discipline for the team. Product managers turns goals into projects with the help of their teams and entrepreneurial spirit. Too much to do is always a battle. That's the perpetual state of being a product manager but the goal is to use a hammer on the highest nail. 

Product Owner is a role you play on a scrum team. Product Manager is the job.

Product managers focus on user and data research through design and development to marketing, sales, and support. Beyond shipping new features on a regular cadence and keeping the peace between engineering and the design team, the best PMs create products with strong user adoption that have exponential revenue growth and perhaps even disrupt an industry.

What is a perfect product manager resume?

There is no perfect resume but there is a key characteristic that defines a successful product manager — resiliency.

Being resilient is a key because if you are doing something hard, there will always be failures. People who have overcome adversity in their life. But it is hard to find resilience in a resume. It is usually in between the lines. The perfect ‘A’ student at the best school who has cruised through has more emotional learning to do, and more to prove about their ability to pick themselves back up after defeat. Emotional intelligence goes a long way.

What are the core competencies of a product manager?

The following core competencies are the baseline for any PM, and the best PMs hone these skills over years of defining, shipping, and iterating on products.

  • conducting customer interviews and user testing
  • running design sprints
  • feature prioritization and road map planning
  • the art of resource allocation
  • performing market assessments
  • translating business-to-technical requirements, and vice versa
  • pricing and revenue modeling
  • community (internal or/and external) engagement
  • guage prospects to adopt a new feature or a product
  • act as a liason with cross-functional business units
  • document stories, epics, technical requirements, user workflows
  • defining and tracking success metrics

What are some tips to become a great product manager?

Story-tellers: the best PMs are able to weave tales that incorporate market needs, strategy, and tactics into a story that their stakeholders can get their heads around and hopefully adopt the story themselves. It can be challengeing when you see something clearly, but you can’t get others around you to see it. You work through other people, so it takes a lot of convincing. You have to be a great communicator and storyteller. You have to read your audience. You have to try harder to understand others and find an angle to explain that makes sense to them. People you work with are smart, they just need a great story to be convinced.

Learning by doing: to master the art of product management requires several years of practice and doing. Ultimately, the best thing you can do to prepare for a career in product management is to build. Manage and “own” a project from inception through execution and operation. Create KPIs and measure your impact.

3 Ps: analyze the 3 Ps— people, process and product to assess on the quality of people, the best process to deliver the product, and excellence and relevance of a product.

Hard decisions: be willing to stand up for what you believe, especially when you are representing your users. Confidence of a product manager comes from having a strong work ethic. Hard decisions make great products. Success is not guaranteed, but confidence eliminates fear of failure.

Questions: are a product manager’s best tool. The best way to understand what’s going on or how to get better is to pose probing questions to all stakeholders, and above all, to yourself. Stopping for a tune-up if you’re already further along the road is critical to leveling up as a leader and questions are the keys that unlock the door to development.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ): the best PMs have the ability to empathize with customers during surveys and interviews. A PM with a high EQ has strong relationships within their organization and a keen sense of how to navigate both internal and external hurdles to ship a great product. People don’t talk enough about EQ. Product managers get huge value from being highly empathetic with the team, not just with users. There are plenty of smart people, but not enough with EQ.

Social capital: the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups. Components of social capital include reciprocity, trust and values. If these are shared between individuals within a network then the community will function as an organic whole. This is important for the next up, relationship management.

Relationship management: probably one of the most important characteristics of a great PM is their relationship management skills. By forming authentic and trustworthy connections with both internal and external stakeholders, the best PMs inspire people and help them reach their full potential. Relationship management is also vital in successful negotiation, resolving conflicts, and working with others toward a shared goal, which is especially challenging when a PM is tasked with balancing the needs of customers, resource-constrained engineering teams, and the company’s revenue goals. Authentic and trusting relationships within an organization can lead to more support when additional funding is needed for a product or when an engineer must be swayed to include a quick bug fix in the next sprint. Outside an organization, these skills could encourage existing customers to beta test a new feature for early feedback or to convince a target customer to try the MVP of a product still in stealth mode.

Confirmation bias: PMs must be self-aware of their own confirmation biasis to avoid projecting their own preferences onto users of their products. PMs should stay objective despite of features they love which addresses their own pain points. The lack of self-awareness in any sort of biases could derail more important priorities or damage the PM’s relationship with engineers, who may lose confidence in their PM when the feature isn’t readily adopted by users.

Self-management: being a PM can be incredibly stressful. The CEO wants one thing, the engineering team another, and customers have their own opinions about feature priorities. Managing tight deadlines, revenue targets, market demands, prioritization conflicts, and resource constraints all at once is not for the faint of heart. If a PM cannot maintain their emotions and keep it cool under pressure, they can quickly lose the confidence of all their constituents. The best PMs know how to push hard on the right priorities, with urgency but without conveying a sense of panic or stress. These PMs also know when to take a breath and step away to regroup.

Social awareness: PMs must understand customer's emotions and concerns about their product as much as they understand the concerns of the sales team on how to sell that product, or the support team on how to support it, or the engineering team on how to build it. PMs need deep understanding of how the organization operates and must build social capital to influence the success of their product, from obtaining budget and staffing to securing a top engineer to work on their product. Finally, social awareness ensures the best PMs service their customers with a product that addresses their jobs to be done, which is ultimately what drives product-market fit.

What are some of the product philosophies?

Every company has a different philosophy about the product development process and where PMs fit into that process. Below are the three most common types, with pros and cons:

  • PM drives Engineering: where PMs gather requirements, write product requirement document, and hand it off to engineering to spec out the technical requirements. Contemporary organizations may do this process in a more agile and collaborative way, but the expectation is that PMs know best about what customers need and engineering is there to serve

    • Pro: engineering can focus on coding without a lot of distraction; this tends to work well for Waterfall development shops with long lifecycles
    • Con: engineers lose sight of the big picture and do not develop empathy for customers, which can lead to a poor user experience. Often there are unhealthy tensions when technical debt and “plumbing” work needs to be prioritized over customer requirements
  • Engineering drives PM: technically oriented product companies (cloud, big data, networking) tend to be engineering-driven, where engineers are advancing the science in their domain and PMs validate solutions or create front end access points (UIs, APIs) to tap into this new technology. There can be a collaborative relationship and feedback loop between customers, PMs, and engineering, but typically PMs are serving engineering in these companies

    • Pro: breakthrough technology can offer customers things they didn’t even know they needed. An engineer thought it would be cool to do, a PM figured out how to monetize it, and it became a billion-dollar game changer for the company
    • Con: engineers chase the shiny new thing, over-architect the solution, or iterate forever, seeking perfection before getting customer feedback. PM input on priorities is ignored, which sometimes includes the most basic needs of customers
  • PM-Engineering Partnership: there is a strong yin-yang between PM and engineering, with joint discovery, decision making, and shared accountability. Engineers join PMs in customer interviews, and PMs are in sprint meetings to help unblock tasks or clarify requirements. But the two roles respect the line where one starts and the other stops. PMs understand what’s being coded but don’t tell engineers how to code, and engineers have empathy for customers’ needs but leave the prioritization to the PMs

    • Pro: a streamlined prioritization process that values technical debt and plumbing projects; better design processes leading to a more positive user experience; higher-performing teams with improved product velocity, quality, and, typically, happier customers
    • Con: breakthrough innovation may not get greenlit; time-to-market may seem to lag (though I’d argue that what’s released is far better aligned with customer needs and more likely to successfully scale)

How does product management operate in different stages of companies?

The role of the PM at a startup is far more likely to be responsible to wear “all the hats,” whereas at a mature company their role will be more distinctly defined.

  • Startup: beyond discovery, definition, and shipping, PMs may also be responsible for pricing, marketing, support, and potentially even sales of the product. These PMs thrive in a scrappy environment and are comfortable with ambiguity and frequent changes to direction as the company works towards product-market fit and learns to operate at scale

    • Pro: PMs are likely to be more involved with company strategy, get exposure to senior leadership and the board, are able to take more risks and make a bigger impact. They also have more influence and authority over company resources
    • Con: There’s typically little to no mentorship, role models, or best practices within the company. You may have to seek it externally. Budgets are typically tight, and PMs may not have the requisite experience to succeed at some of the things they’re tasked to do
  • Mature company: The PM may have a narrower scope and have coworkers who handle pricing, go-to-market strategies, and so on. And they are likely to be part of a larger team of product managers

    • Pro: PMs are more likely to have mentoring and role models, as well as development standards and best practices. Close association with an engineering team can create strong relationships over time, which is great for long-term impact and career growth. And if the product has market fit, there is an established customer base and performance baseline to work from, versus guessing until you get it right
    • Con: PMs have less exposure to company strategy and are just one of many voices of the customer. They can get “lost” in the system and have to deal with more politics and tight budgets

What is the process of Product Management?

Process defines the framework and discipline to accomplish the product vision. Every organization has a different process but the following should be addressed when defining a famework.

  • Product Vision: what do you want the world around you to look like in 6 months? 1 year? 2 years? 5 years?
  • Outcome: what do you want to achieve to help realize this product vision?
  • Goals & Metrics: what are the measurable goals along the way? How can we measure them?
  • Strategy: what are we going to do in sequence to hit our goals?
  • Resourcing: what resources do we need to hit these metrics? For example, how many engineers and designers to assign?

How to set product mangement goals?

In its purest form, a goal is a way to track whether you’re achieving what you set out to do.

When setting goals, start with what you’re trying to achieve as a company, team and product. What’s your ultimate mission? A goal should never be an end in itself— the end is achieving your mission.

A good goal has the following attributes:

  • Concrete: it’s clear and unambiguous (something that isn’t subjective)
  • Simple: everyone understands what it is and how it’s measured
  • Quick feedback loop: the results of your changes can be seen quickly. Think about how long it takes for a user to reach the milestone you’re tracking, and whether you can expect movement in a reasonable timeframe
  • Business-oriented: it’s easy to see how this goal actually drives the larger business

What are some of the metrics to measure product success goals?

Start with the “north star” metric of the business, for example, whether it is revenue, subscriptions, or content consumed. Then, figure out what set of levers move that metric.

Don't use key metrics because everyone else is. There is a downside to over-analyzing, measuring goals that results in confirmation bias or measuring without any context.

  • Net Promoter Score
  • Customer Interviews
  • Retention
  • Customer Reviews
  • CSAT
  • Renewals
  • Churn
  • Referrals
  • Monetization
  • Bookings vs. Revenue
  • Recurring Revenue vs. Total Revenue
  • Total Contract Value (TCV) vs. Annual Contract Value (ACV)
  • LTV (Life Time Value)
  • Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) vs. Revenue
  • Unearned or Deferred Revenue … and Billings
  • CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) … Blended vs. Paid, Organic vs. Inorganic
  • Active Users
  • Month-on-month (MoM) growth
  • Burn Rate
  • Downloads
  • Cumulative Charts (vs. Growth Metrics)
  • Chart Tricks
  • Order of Operations

What are some technical product topics to explore?

Some of the technical topics that are commonly used in contemporary product management:

Topic Description
Agile Methodology Agile software development comprises various approaches to software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customer(s)/end user(s). It advocates adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continual improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change.
Waterfall Methodology The waterfall model is a breakdown of project activities into linear sequential phases, where each phase depends on the deliverables of the previous one and corresponds to a specialisation of tasks. The approach is typical for certain areas of engineering design. In software development, it tends to be among the less iterative and flexible approaches, as progress flows in largely one direction ("downwards" like a waterfall) through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, deployment and maintenance.
Product Strategy Product strategy defines what your product should achieve and how that supports the organisation, and is brought to life through the product road map. This strategy outlines the end-to-end vision of the product, particulars on achieving the product strategy and the big picture context in terms of what the product will become.
Product Roadmap High level (strategic) marketing-esque announcements of (future) product improvements. A roadmap is a flexible planning technique to support strategic and long-range planning, by matching short-term and long-term goals with specific technology solutions. It is a plan that applies to a new product or process and may include using technology forecasting or technology scouting to identify suitable emerging technologies. It is a known technique to help manage the fuzzy front-end of innovation.
Product Requirements Document A product requirements document (PRD) is a document containing all the requirements to a certain product. It is written to allow people to understand what a product should do. A PRD should, however, generally avoid anticipating or defining how the product will do it in order to later allow interface designers and engineers to use their expertise to provide the optimal solution to the requirements. Mapping solutions (user stories) to core customer goals (job stories) helps ensure you’re building a product people will actually use. When you realize that any goal has many solutions, you can begin to prioritize your effort to get the 80% value out of the 20% of your effort.
User Stories In software development and product management, a user story is an informal, natural language description of one or more features of a software system. User stories are often written from the perspective of an end user or user of a system. It starts with: As a, I want, So that.
Wireframing A wireframe, also known as a page schematic or screen blueprint, is a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website or a software where users interact. Wireframes are created for the purpose of arranging elements to best accomplish a particular purpose. The purpose is usually being informed by a business objective and a creative idea. The wireframe usually lacks typographic style, color, or graphics, since the main focus lies in functionality, behavior, and priority of content.
User Onboarding User onboarding is the process of improving a person's success with a product or service. This term is often used in reference to software products, and it can be done in a manual or automated way. It is the process through which new software is designed such that new users are provided and acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors in order to become “up and running” and effective users of website, app, or software service.
User Research User research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies. This field of research aims at improving the usability of products, services, or processes by incorporating experimental and observational research methods to guide the design, development, and refinement of a product. User researchers often work alongside designers, engineers, and programmers in all stages of product creation and idealization.
Usability Testing Usability testing is a technique used in user-centered interaction design to evaluate a product by testing it on users. This can be seen as an irreplaceable usability practice, since it gives direct input on how real users use the system. It is more concerned with the design intuitiveness of the product and tested with users who have no prior exposure to it. Such testing is paramount to the success of an end product as a fully functioning app that creates confusion amongst its users will not last for long. This is in contrast with usability inspection methods where experts use different methods to evaluate a user interface without involving users.
Jobs to be Done Jobs to be Done is a theory of consumer action. It describes the mechanisms that cause a consumer to adopt an innovation. The theory states that markets grow, evolve, and renew whenever customers have a Job to be Done, and then buy a product to complete it (get the Job Done).
Job Stories AJob Story is a powerful way to facilitate team conversation and discovery when designing products. They are meant to cut right to the job to be done by eliminating distractions. The job story encourages the product’s design process to focus on context, causality and motivations instead of assumptions, subjectiveness, personas and implementations.
Business Requirements Document Business requirements, also known as stakeholder requirements specifications, describe the characteristics of a proposed system from the viewpoint of the system's end user. Products, systems, software, and processes are ways of how to deliver, satisfy, or meet business requirements. Consequently, business requirements are often discussed in the context of developing or procuring software or other systems.
Market Research Market research can assist businesses with their product strategy by identifying growth opportunities. When developing a strategy, businesses must consider how their product or service solves consumer problems, how their product is different from others and how their competitors address the same consumer needs.
Product Market Fit Product/market fit, also known as product-market fit, is the degree to which a product satisfies a strong market demand.Product/market fit has been identified as a first step to building a successful venture in which the company meets early adopters, gathers feedback and gauges interest in its product(s).
Competitor Analysis Competitor analysis in marketing and strategic management is an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors. This analysis provides both an offensive and defensive strategic context to identify opportunities and threats. Profiling combines all of the relevant sources of competitor analysis into one framework in the support of efficient and effective strategy formulation, implementation, monitoring and adjustment.
Product Analytics The term product analytics refers to capturing and analyzing quantitative data through embedded tools that record how users interact with a product. This type of usage data can include the most frequently accessed features of a product, the average time users spend taking a specific action, and a map of each user’s journey through the product.
Net Promoter Score Net Promoter or Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a management tool that can be used to gauge the loyalty of a firm's customer relationships. It serves as an alternative to traditional customer satisfaction research and is claimed to be correlated with revenue growth. The tool aims to measure the loyalty that exists between a provider and a consumer. The provider can be a company, employer or any other entity. The provider is the entity that is asking the questions on the NPS survey. The consumer is the customer, employee, or respondent to an NPS survey.
Key Performance Indicator A performance indicator or key performance indicator (KPI) is a type of performance measurement. KPIs evaluate the success of an organization or of a particular activity (such as projects, programs, products and other initiatives) in which it engages.
Objectives and Key Results OKRs set high level goals (objectives) and explicit measurable tasks on how to achieve these (key results). At an abstract level, these can tie to your product roadmap. This enables teams to act autonomously, focus on goals and just generally do more by mitigating the common question of “What should I do next?”.
Minimum Viable Product A minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product development. Gathering insights from an MVP is often less expensive than developing a product with more features, which increases costs and risk if the product fails, for example, due to incorrect assumptions.
Minimum Lovable Product A minimum viable product, but with soul. It has good intentions and is purpose-driven.
Task Management Task management is the process of managing a task through its life cycle. It involves planning, testing, tracking, and reporting. Task management can help either individual achieve goals, or groups of individuals collaborate and share knowledge for the accomplishment of collective goals. Tasks are also differentiated by complexity, from low to high.
Technical Debt Technical debt (also known as design debt or code debt, but can be also related to other technical endeavors) is a concept in software development that reflects the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy (limited) solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer.
Kano model The Kano model is a theory for product development and customer satisfaction developed in the 1980s by Professor Noriaki Kano, which classifies customer preferences into five categories.
MoSCoW method The MoSCoW method is a prioritization technique used in management, business analysis, project management, and software development to reach a common understanding with stakeholders on the importance they place on the delivery of each requirement; it is also known as MoSCoW prioritization or MoSCoW analysis.
The KJ-Technique The KJ-Method or KJ Technique, is an idea generating and prioritizing technique named after its inventor, Jiro Kawakita. This technique is one of the most popular brainstorming variations for design, team, retrospective, and project meetings. The KJ Technique includes these steps: Individual brainstorming, Sharing ideas, Grouping or Clustering and Voting.
Outcome-Driven Innovation Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI) is a strategy and innovation process developed by Anthony W. Ulwick. It is built around the theory that people buy products and services to get jobs done. As people complete these jobs, they have certain measurable outcomes that they are attempting to achieve. It links a company's value creation activities to customer-defined metrics.
Scrum Scrum is an agile process framework for managing complex knowledge work, with an initial emphasis on software development, although it has been used in other fields and is slowly starting to be explored for other complex work, research and advanced technologies. It is designed for teams of ten or fewer members, who break their work into goals that can be completed within timeboxed iterations, called sprints, no longer than one month and most commonly two weeks, then track progress and re-plan in 15-minute time-boxed daily meetings, called daily scrums.
Kanban Kanban is a scheduling system for lean manufacturing and just-in-time manufacturing (JIT). Kanban is a lean method to manage and improve work across human systems. This approach aims to manage work by balancing demands with available capacity, and by improving the handling of system-level bottlenecks. In knowledge work and in software development, the aim is to provide a visual process management system which aids decision-making about what, when, and how much to produce. The underlying Kanban method originated in lean manufacturing, which was inspired by the Toyota Production System. Kanban is one method to achieve JIT.
Lean startup Lean startup is a methodology for developing businesses and products that aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.
Extreme Programming Extreme programming (XP) is a software development methodology which is intended to improve software quality and responsiveness to changing customer requirements. As a type of agile software development, it advocates frequent "releases" in short development cycles, which is intended to improve productivity and introduce checkpoints at which new customer requirements can be adopted.
Priority Buckets Now, Next, Later. Now and Next are effectively the goals for the quarter, and Later is the longer term roadmap. Now, is the next 2–4 weeks. For many teams that use bi-weekly sprints, this fits perfectly into their planning cadence. Next, is 1–3 months out. Effectively, it’s the rest of the quarter after #now. This bucket has the most debate, because #now projects are usually already underway so this is the area where the next few months of work get set. Later is 3+ months out. It’s a useful place to park ideas the team is passionate about. This is the most useful bucket, because it saves the team unending debates so they can focus on building #now and then #next projects. The prioritization within later bucket is not that important, since you’ll revisit it all in a few months anyways. You can also leave the ideas much less specific than in now and next; you just want to plant seeds to revisit later.
7-Part Product Roadmap First principles, Goals & progress against goals, Recent updates, Themes (near-term), Themes (long-term), Individual projects, Appendices
Three Feature Buckets Place your feature concepts in one of three buckets: Metrics Movers. These are features that will move your target business & product metrics significantly. Customer Requests. These are features that your customers are actively requesting. There is no mystery here. Customer Delight. These are features that customers haven’t necessarily asked for, but literally delight them when they see them.
Cycle Time The time you start a task until it’s completed.
Lead time The time a task is created until it’s completed.
Burn-down chart A visualization of the daily progress of an iteration of work.
Relative estimates Flexible, determined by factors you define (e.g. complexity, risk, repetition). Examples include story points & t-shirt sizing.
Absolute estimates Pre-determined, with an absolute time (e.g. 1 day).
Retrospective A retrospective is a look back at events that took place, or works that were produced, in the past. Collect data, look for patterns, and determine actions.
Post-Implementation Review Review of the project after it’s done
Stand-up meeting A stand-up meeting is a meeting in which attendees typically participate while standing. The discomfort of standing for long periods is intended to keep the meetings short. It is a daily checkup of how the team is progressing.

This is a huge knowldge dump, but this is for personal use only. I built products before I knew anything about product management. I never heard of it when I was in school (a decade ago). When I joined Morningstar and got deep into tech ecosystem, I started hearing more about it. It is a modern 21st century skillset. Products, and mostly digital products are everywhere so it is obvious why such importance on this topic. I have so much more to learn but compiling these notes removes any vagueness around this topic. Lastly, Jason Evanish's Twitter thread which I highly recommend on being a product manager. There is so much to unpack here, but every single tweet uncovers a larger topic. It is a good overview on what a Product Manager does.

Knowledge without action, is like having no knowledge at all. - Ted Nicholas


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