Be impactful, says Shopify's Brandon Chu.
In Summary: Product Managers have lots of choices about what to do each day, all of which produce some positive output. Developing awareness of where they have leverage is critical to their long term impact.
Vision and Strategy are foundational. They provide the direction, the inspiration and enable a group of people to execute as a team. Scope and Backlog are optimisations. They accelerate progress towards a known destination.
Both are important, but going faster in the wrong direction is far worse than going slower in the right one.
When prioritising focus, a PM should first ask themselves if they’ve built a solid foundation for their team to operate in. If not, that’s where they need to start.
Christine Deakers hits the road with a panel of product experts to discuss the challenges of managing driverless products.
In Summary: Very soon, we'll need to think of the car as a platform, not a product. Platforms will need to position themselves somewhere on the spectrum of premium vs. bare bones services. Are we the iOS or the Android of driverless cars?
'Apps' on the platform could still be software (like music or films) but they could also be physical features like having a training bike in the car for workouts.
Most Product Managers today have never worked on a product where 'failure' of the product meant someone might be killed. Upholding safety must be the number one concern for all PMs who will need to manage user anxiety and train the passengers of the future.
With self-driving cars, you’re not designing for the driver, you’re designing for the passenger only. The PMs of the future will need interior design skills as the layout of the car will reflect a passenger’s requested experience.
Product discovery work is often straight forward and the Product Team proceeds quickly to delivery. But, for certain efforts, true problem solving is necessary, says SVPG's Marty Cagan.
In Summary: It's vital for Product Teams to identify the big risks that need to be tackled. In Marty's experience, teams tend to focus mainly on tackling technology risks – especially performance or scale - or usability risks. But it's important to consider the broader risk spectrum.
For instance, there is value risk – do the customers actually want this particular problem solved? - as well as stakeholder risk: does our solution works for the different parts of the company?
Imagine the Facebook Product Team tasked with tackling the problem of fake news. There are tangible technical solutions but broader issues as well. Who gets to define truth? Is it appropriate for Facebook to take on that role? And how does all of this mesh with Mark's product vision?
Discovery is critical to coming up with solutions that work not just for your customers, but for your company as well.
Start with the story, not the Product.
In Summary: Product Managers have traditionally discussed products in terms of solving problems. But in a hyper-competitive world it’s no longer enough to simply solve a functional problem. You need to understand your user’s story.
For Product Managers, using 'Jobs to be Done' shifts focus away from features to the outcomes users can expect from using the product. It also transforms one’s understanding of the competitive landscape. For instance, Netflix competes against sharing a bottle of wine, not just other television channels.
UX Designer Donna Lichaw encourages product developers to 'storymap' their products against the classic 'narrative arc' of a novel or Hollywood film. She reminds us that it's our job to tell the customer how our product will help them become a hero.
In the midst of the mania for AI, ML and neural networks, it’s important to remember that they are ‘just’ technologies. There is no human story yet. It’s important to start with a story, one in which your user is the hero.