The right product strategy is as important to a successful launch as pouring the right foundation is to building a home, says Jim Semick.
In Summary: If your product is new, creating a solid product strategy must happen first in the product development process — before you begin creating feature lists, user stories and detailed customer personas. A 'bottom-up' approach to roadmaps is counterproductive and leads to a weak product.
As a Product Manager, you are both your product’s chief strategist and its chief communicator. Different stakeholders are looking to you to explain the 'why' of your product to them. Having a clear product strategy makes it easier to articulate the product vision to any constituency across your company. It also allows you to more clearly identify priorities.
A top-down approach starts with the vision and strategy for your product. From the product vision you can derive product goals that will translate your product strategy into an executable plan.
Think RICE, says Sean McBride.
In Summary: Identifying what to put on your roadmap is a challenge for Product Managers. But prioritising items can be even harder. Removing your personal bias towards 'favourite' features or engineers' inclination to work on the most technically challenging are just some of the challenges of prioritisation.
Having trialled a number of points-based prioritisation systems, the team at Intercom settled on a method they call RICE: Reach, Impact, Confidence and Effort. By applying a numeric value to each of these vectors, Sean calculates 'total impact per time worked' – exactly what Product Managers need to maximize.
A scoring system like RICE helps Product Managers make better-informed decisions about what to work on first and then defend those decisions to others. It does not need to be followed slavishly. But it's a welcome counter-balance to the tangled mess of gut-feeling that steers many products.
If you don’t like to write, you'll have a hard time as a Product Manager, says Notion's Kevin Steigerwald.
In Summary: The best advice Kevin wishes he'd received during his career as a Product Manager is 'Write everything down' - from the daily to-do list to project briefs, weekly status reports and release notes. But writing doesn't come naturally to everyone and there's no one tool that allows Product Managers to capture and convey everything effectively.
To ease our pain, Kevin outlines his preferred tools and a handful of templates for us to use.
Know the risks, say Cliff Gilley (aka The Clever PM).
In Summary: On the grand spectrum of inaction versus action it’s hard to argue that having a 'bias toward action' is a bad thing for Product Managers.
But risk assessment before action is key. That means some amount of investigation and analysis should occur before we take action, otherwise we’re just throwing the fate of our products to the wind.
Citing Amazon's 12 Principles of Leadership as the origin of this term, Cliff emphasises the need to understand it's role in the context of other key PM attributes. Otherwise, a bias to action can lead to an absence of strategy, constant firefighting and recklessness.
Solve a 'sub-problem' first, says Bram Kanstein.
In Summary: When you spot a problem you want to fix, or an opportunity you want to seize, there are many things to do before writing a single line of code.
The first is to define the real pain you’re solving and the value you’re providing. Next is working out what people are doing now to solve this problem. Many products are competing with 'hacked' solutions that are 'good enough' to function as a solution. Finally, you need to know how you're going to change someone’s behaviour if they're not aware they’re 'doing it wrong!'
Don't invest energy and resources into the development of a product before doing research and creating a solid plan and strategy for going to market. By doing these things you can also figure out if the business you’re pursuing is something worthwhile.