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3 Key Principles of Product Management

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

Startup leaders and product managers often ask me about the best tools out there to manage their products.


My view has always been that the tools come last.


There are principles that you are trying to adhere to, then you have processes which are specific to your organisation to help adhere to these principles. And then, you have tools to help implement the process.


Principles -> Processes -> Tools

Then the question becomes what are the key principles of Product Management?!?


If you would rather watch a video than read, scroll to the bottom. The text post has links to other related posts/ videos and is updated frequently 😃


Context

For a product to succeed in the marketplace, the product must successfully solve a valuable problem for a segment of customers on an ongoing basis.


Any feature you develop for the product is an investment. While not all investments will yield returns, the goal is to ensure that you invest as little as possible to see if yields any return before you invest more! If it is not giving returns you want to be able to write off the investment.


Considering these, there are 3 key principles that product organization must embrace to thrive in today’s world!


1. Problem Backwards

Customers and users are looking for solutions to a problem which is either preventing them from maximising a gain or minimising a pain.


Is the problem even real? Are customers willing to "pay" for a solution? Customers typically evaluate the solution on the basis of how the problem is being solved.


Very often product teams get caught up in the features of the solution and forget that they are solving a problem for their user.


Good understanding of the problem leads to more effective prioritization and better trade off decisions.


2. Fastest Time to Value

Many a time, when product teams decide to build a feature, they set out to solve all “assumed” use cases of all users.


The risk with this approach is that if the problem itself is not fully validated, you end up investing a lot in features which do not get used i.e. dead investment.


The key here is to focus on the problem, critical success factors and provide an end-to-end solution, not all of which may involve technology in the first version. 2 excellent examples of a stripped out first version are the Dropbox MVP and the Zappos MVP.


Once you see the feature being used, you could invest more in the relevant areas to drive adoption and increase value. To do this effectively, you could consider releasing it to a limited set of users to get initial feedback.


The key is to focus on Effectiveness over Efficiency at first.


A few concepts that are useful to consider here are the Beachhead Strategy, The role of the MVP in the beachhead strategy and identifying early adopters.


3. Continuous Innovation

Today’s world, unlike 20 or 30 years ago, is changing at a very fast pace. Even in a B2B environment, users are getting younger, and they are exposed to latest trends through usage of ecommerce and social media. They expect nothing less from their work applications.


The mindset “this is how it has been done all along and this is how we will continue to do it” is not going to cut it any longer. To innovate and thrive, you need to bring in ideas from other industries and adapt it to solve problems for your customers and users.


One irrevocable law of nature is "Evolve, or go Extinct"


In today’s world it is “Innovate or Die”!

 

If you feel your product organization has room to improve in any of these areas...





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