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Some fresh ideas about business, technology, and design for product managers

Product Management

Product Managers need to think on our feet and act fast to survive and thrive in the war for customer loyalty. In this post, we explore three mental models that can help product managers better understand their job.

A video interview with the VP of Product for Pivotal Tracker:

  • Lessons for moving your product from free to paid
  • The importance of small teams
  • Why Pivotal Tracker is more relevant after 10 years than ever before

Know your value prop.

Product managers deliver the most value by being able to empathize with the user and represent their needs, galvanize teams, and most importantly, execute. Insanely sharp product sense coupled with the drive to deliver will help the team build and ship delightful products.

Business first.

Building and bringing products to market requires deep understanding of the business goals, vision, and culture. Delivering great product doesn’t happen in a vacuum...

We often hear that product managers are called the CEO of their product — meaning, they manage the end-to-end development and launch of their product. However, that seems to over-ascribe the authority of the product manager. After all, product managers don’t need to deal with shareholders and often times, do not directly manage the P&L or finances.

Product managers are responsible for being the advocates for the users, having insanely sharp product sense, and helping the team and company ship the right products.

To successfully execute the above, instead of calling product managers “CEOs”, I liken PMs to “CIOs” — Chief Influence Officers.

For most product managers in charge of planning the product roadmap, the task of determining which features to include and which to prioritize is a daunting one.

Feature planning is made more difficult by pressures from designers who want an opportunity to showcase new user interface ideas and developers who may be motivated to execute the simplest possible version or be prone to over-complicating every detail.

So how do you plan and prioritize features effectively?

Try The Kano Model.

Find out if you have essential Product Management skills
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In this exclusive 100 PM interview, author Nir Eyal talks about the Hook Model and when to adopt it in the product development process. The best-selling author also shares new insights about variable rewards and which products have him hooked.

In his best-selling book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, author Nir Eyal introduces a radical way for product builders to understand the science of behavior and architect winning solutions upfront.

This article is a great introduction to the hook model and how product managers can use it to build habit-forming products.

How do you know what to look for when hiring a developer for your product if you aren't a technical person?

The founders of The Development Factory share some expert tips for hiring right.

In crafting products, there’s a tension between two dispositions.

On the one hand, methodologies like lean startup and agile push us to regularly fit our product to the real world. By regularly running tests, validating demand, and shipping in small iterations, we can keep an up-to-date map of our product’s environment. Using market signals as a steering mechanism seems to be the surest way to create value.

On the other hand, the most impactful products, don’t just react to their environment, they change it. Igniting real change, it seems, requires a leader’s unwavering commitment to a vision of how the world should be.

When Steve Jobs died in 2011, I read Walter Isaacson’s biography. Jobs’ aggressive pushing of vision, against resistance from co-workers and the marketplace, seemed key to Apple’s unprecedented impact. To a lean extremist, the Steve Jobs phenomenon is pretty confusing. My bias was to be adaptive to marketplace signal, not to ignore it. As someone with my own dreams of changing the world, I admired Steve Jobs. Yet, I espoused a doctrine that made his success unintelligible. In retrospect, I’m amazed by how long I lived with this contradiction.