June 19, 2020
PM
Product
Startup

Product is a mindset.

June 19, 2020

From the outside looking in, Product Management seems like a black box. If designers are the ones who design, developers are the ones who code, and marketers are the ones who launch, then what the hell do Product people do?

Before accepting my first PM job, I asked the same question. Turns out the role of a Product Manager is mainly to do anything that is needed to get the product or feature out of the door to generate user value. Vague? Indeed.

Put simply, this is because product isn’t a skillit’s a mindset.

It’s a way of approaching problems, and it all begins with being intentional about these five dimensions:

  • What is the problem?
  • Why is this a problem?
  • Who is this a problem for?
  • What value are you delivering to your end-users?
  • What value are you generating for your business?

Being intentional is hard because it requires you to be proactive, as compared to reactive. It requires a deep understanding of the market, the product, the customers, and their needs. None of this requires sheer skill, only understanding what variables to consider as your approach a problem and involving the right people to get to the objective truth and best solution possible.

The word “strategy” or “strategic” often gets thrown around like a ping-pong ball in Product Management, which I never understood. I mean, what does it mean to be “strategic” anyways? Well, simply put, strategic just means being intentional. From a tactical standpoint, it translates to you:

  • Assessing opportunities to work on.
  • Determining what is worth prioritizing.
  • Making trade-offs to generate the highest ROI.
  • Gaining buy-in & get the right people involved.
  • Communicating with your team and create alignment.
  • Focusing on delivering user & business value.

And guess what?

You don’t have to be a PM or a startup founder to think this way 👏👏

Google’s founders were intentional about building the first hyper-textual web search engine. From the beginning, Netflix’s CEO, Reid Hasting, was deliberate about streaming videos over the internet. He realized the market & technology wasn’t ready in the early 2000s, but very thoughtfully introduced it when barriers were low.

They knew what they were building, the who, the why, the value it delivered to their users, and the value it generated for their business.

So next time you’re hacking something with a friend and think that you need a product person … reconsider. Often, it isn’t a product person you need, but someone product-minded to consider the variables more thoughtfully and determine a direction.

This begins by shifting the way you think about problems — it starts with being intentional.