The Product Newsletter #57

Welcome to our Product Newsletter, a biweekly email highlighting top discussions, and learning resources for product managers.

What We Will Cover In This Edition:-

Top Discussions: 

1) Can product managers be effective founders?

2) What should I bring to the daily tech stand-ups as a PM?

3) What tools do you use for Product Management?

Top Learning Resources:

1. Why Products Fail

2. Product Management Skills No One Talks About

3. Transformation Anti-Patterns: Management Consultancies

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Top Discussions

Question 1Can product managers be effective founders?

Over the past year, I’ve noticed that my attitude has a significant impact on how stakeholders and coworkers interpret the facts.

Hello, I’m interested in a job in product management because I want to learn how to create my own engaging products and start a start-up or business.

Is this a reasonable goal to have? Does it fit with a product manager’s career? I’ve discovered that most product founders are technical professionals who identify a problem and develop a solution. Despite being generalists rather than techies, are similar situations frequently encountered by product managers?

– Brandon Milne

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Discussion

A] While it is true that most product founders are technical professionals, the role of a product manager also involves identifying problems and developing solutions. Product managers work closely with cross-functional teams to understand market needs, gather feedback, and drive the development of innovative products.

– Maria Wilson

B] Product management is a dynamic field that involves identifying problems and developing solutions. As a product manager, you will have the opportunity to work closely with cross-functional teams, understand market needs, gather feedback, and drive the development of innovative products. By gaining experience in product management, you can acquire the necessary skills to navigate the complexities of creating your own appealing product and potentially starting your own successful firm. With dedication and hard work, it is definitely possible to achieve your goal with a career in product management.

– Kane Morgan

C] Could not agree less with @KaneMorgan. By gaining experience in product management, you can acquire the necessary skills to navigate the complexities of creating your own appealing product and potentially starting your own successful firm. It is definitely possible to achieve your goal with a career in product management.

– Flavia Bergstein

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Question 2) What should I bring to the daily tech stand-ups as a PM?

As a PM in banking, I am seeking advice on a tech-side enterprise services product. I am currently working on an early-to-mid-stage product with fewer dependencies.

The engineering team leads daily standups, asking for updates. However, the majority of their work involves scoping, planning, and unblocking potential roadblocks, making it difficult to provide daily updates. It feels awkward to say they have no updates daily, and it feels like they’re losing respect before they even start gaining it.

– Corey Amorin

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Discussion

A] Keep your inquiries for last. Ask them for some time after the call if you need to meet with them.

Try to address the issues if you find a pattern, such as someone needing more work, someone complaining about too many meetings, someone not understanding what the client or stakeholder needs, etc.

Avoid getting in the team’s way, and refrain from using that time as a platform for your own agenda. The purpose of the daily scrum or meeting is for the team to assess their performance and re-plan in order to finish the work that has already been committed, not to add additional work that will throw the plan off course.

– Heather Kurtz

B] As the product manager, ensure that you are meeting your expectations by monitoring team members’ updates and ensuring they are adhering to your expectations. Check in if they are focusing too much on a simple task, avoiding scope misunderstandings, or creating unnecessary items. Additionally, provide a status update on your current projects and any team passthroughs.

– Lawrence Martin

C] Product managers at my organization are very unactive during stand-ups. Only taking part when they have something noteworthy to share; it serves more as a progress/pulse check for us. Their approach allows them to focus on their primary responsibilities, such as analyzing market trends and customer feedback, to make informed decisions about the product roadmap. This ensures that they can provide valuable insights and updates during stand-ups, rather than simply repeating information that is already known by the team.

– Priya Varma

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Question 3)

What tools do you use for Product Management?

I have 15 years of experience in product management and learned most of my skills from business administration books. Today, the profession is more standardized and professional, with consulting companies offering frameworks for product management and development. Tools like ProductFolio, ProductPlan, and ClickUp have emerged to guide product managers through their workday. However, the complexity of the job makes it difficult to believe these tools are helpful.

I would like to know if any of you use such a tool? E.g. ProductFolio, ProductPlan or ClickUp, etc.

– Pankaj Jain

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Discussion

A] Yes, it is simple with the appropriate tools.

Making a selection is difficult. requires many diverse viewpoints. When making a selection, it is important to consider various perspectives and gather input from different individuals. This helps in ensuring a comprehensive and well-rounded decision-making process. Additionally, incorporating diverse viewpoints can lead to more innovative and creative solutions.

Our ‘stack’ was chosen by myself. Before settling on the one we use now, we went through three different ones. In my opinion, adopting a “get more done with less” mentality is the best course of action. By exploring multiple options and considering different perspectives, we were able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each ‘stack’ before making a final decision. This approach not only allowed us to select the most suitable one for our needs but also encouraged collaboration and fostered a sense of ownership among team members. Ultimately, embracing an efficient mindset helped us streamline our processes and maximize productivity.

– Rob Martin

B] I’m not sure I completely understand the advantages of the different frameworks. Finding the upcoming changes and modifications that are most crucial is a PM’s responsibility. The best approach I’m aware of is: Ask customers or users about their problems. Determine which pains are most common among the clients you interviewed. To ensure that your interviewers are representative of the user population as a whole, distribute a brief survey. Create features to address the most pressing issues. You are “doing good PM” if you consistently accomplish this and inform stakeholders of the research findings and the plan.

– Tina Greist

C] I do comprehend, @Pankaj-Jain. Even though I’ve only had the position for two years, the company I work for has very outdated procedures.

I learned about the position from coworkers who are 20 or older, and they give a description that is comparable to yours and the OP’s. There is no magic involved; simply perform X and compare the results with Y to determine Z. The best guideline to follow is common sense, as my coworker truly says.

He’s fortunate that he wasn’t recently terminated because common sense these days won’t take you very far in interviews.

I’ve been doing interviews for a very long time, and fortunately, I still have a job, so I can see how data science has largely replaced product management as the dominant discipline. There are many PMs who serve two purposes, and I just cannot compete with them.

Like @Pankaj-Jain , I was influenced by social media and did everything I could to increase my chances by learning new frameworks, listening to influencers, and modernizing my language. However, as data science is constantly prioritized over business administration principles, I don’t see any change.

However, this is just my incredibly personal experience. Please use it as a guide only!

– Dianne Stinger

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Top Learning Resources

In the startup context at least, it seems to be fairly straightforward from the research we have available: lack of product / market fit. In other words, either nobody wanted the thing you built in the way you built it or you failed to find enough people who did. However in recent years, with the growth of agile transformation and larger corporates adopting startup principles, the idea of failure itself is now one that is largely embraced as a means of testing ideas quickly. Fail fast. Move fast and break things. These are the mantras of modern product teams.

Product Management Skills No One Talks About

Let me tell you a secret that the product management industry is hiding from you, or maybe not saying it out loud — we don’t care ‘too’ much about the hard skills. And what hard skills? Writing a PRD? Doing user interviews? Understanding UX? Knowing business and tech? There’s more than what meets the eye here. And more than UX, Business, and Tech, that’s required to become a better Product Manager.

Transformation Anti-Patterns: Management Consultancies

There are several common anti-patterns when it comes to the reasons for failed transformation efforts. But one of the most well-known, most common, and most frustrating has to do with the big management consultancies. Especially since most people that have worked with these consultancies know that it’s not because their people are clueless. In truth, most of the time the people there – at least the senior ones that you interact directly with – are well above average.

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