So you want to be a product manager? I can understand why. It is an exciting path for ambitious folks who want to make a real impact. If I was starting my career over, I would choose product management again and get to it faster. And I would do it with more confidence knowing what I know now.
In the middle of a major product launch, it can feel like you are running in a million different directions all at once. But in that eye of the storm, you will always find the best product marketers. These folks work closely with product and engineering teams and explain what is new to customers and the teams who support those customers. The trusted product marketer is a steady force.
Product managers are often focused on what is coming next. As you should be, right? And as a busy product manager, it is likely that you do not find much time for self-reflection built into your daily schedule. Still, it is important to occasionally take a step back and consider where you are headed and why.
Here is a riddle for you: How do you go really fast while taking your time? No, this is not a trick question. It is actually inspired by an old Latin phrase, “festina lente.” By now you are probably wondering why you should care about this ancient oxymoron.
Too many books and not enough time. This is how I feel every time I look at my long list of books to read. And while most of us dream of spending hours reading at the end of a busy day — the reality is that we often fall asleep before the end of chapter one.
You start the day off ready to cruise through your schedule and To-do list. And then… the speed bumps appear out of nowhere. Impromptu meetings. Last-minute requests. Fire drills from the sales team. If this sounds like your typical work day, I have good news for you — you are a fortunate product manager. Read more…
I bet you can think of at least a few customers who absolutely love your product. They are vocal, share positive feedback, say that you “get” them, and advocate for your company. But let’s face it — you can probably also think of a few customers who merely like your product. And then there are many others who simply tolerate what you do. It takes work to get these customers over the line and into love.
Pop quiz: How many minutes a day do customers use your product? What screens do they visit most? How much data do they enter? These questions might have you dreaming of an analytics dashboard that would bring you nirvana. But beware — you will never fully understand your customers if you fall into the “data-only trap.”
If you are like me, the following has happened to you. And if you are lucky, it has only happened once — but that is unlikely.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Some people quickly answer this question with “yes.” But ask if they can pinpoint the very moment their affections blossomed and you usually get a vague reply. Something like, “We met in college at a mutual friend’s party.” That is because most love grows over time — there is no one magical moment.
“What is your product, really?” If you work for a technology company, you might think of it as the item you directly sell, the software that you ship, or the basic service you provide. But this is only part of the answer. Your product is actually the complete experience and relationship you and your customers share.
Rave reviews are unusual. For good reason. This kind of adulation is only reserved for the truly outstanding. Even artists who refine their craft for years may not be recognized for their genius during their lifetime — if ever. Product builders can find a lesson here. Complaints come fast and easy. Adoration, not so much.
You want to build something great. We all do. And we hope that customers will love our products as much as we do. But too many people cut corners simply because it takes hard work to earn that desired love. And when the shortcuts lead to a focus on product hype and bolstering company valuation rather than serving adoring customers, it can spell big trouble.
Have you ever said “I love you” … to software? Maybe once or twice. One product that has earned my heartfelt devotion is the Strava cycling app. I use it on my morning rides to record my speed and routes. This real-time data provides a history of where I rode, with whom, and how fast (or slow) I went. Today’s ride: 25.2 miles at an average of 19.4 mph. Not too bad.