Unconventional Truths About Product Management

Hello fellow punks!

Welcome to the 54 of you who have signed up for this since the last issue. It’s great to have you on board. Hopefully you’ll stick with me while I figure out what this newsletter is all about.

Here’s this week’s issue ⬇️

Unconventional truths that made me a better PM 🧐

Nine unconventional truths that changed the way I think about product management:

Dates do matter

Thinking products are done when they're done is naive.

Few PMs have the luxury of building what they want when they want—there will always be external pressures that mean you have to execute on a timeline.

Data doesn't need to inform everything

Very few decisions are irreversible.

Data-informed decision-making is necessary, but don't use a lack of data as an excuse not to move forward.

Make the best decision you can with the information you have to hand.

Speed isn't that important

You don't need to move fast and break things.

Moving too fast will slow you down in the long-run when you need to come back and fix things.

Find the right tempo for your market, your product and your customers instead.

Customers don't know what they want

If you build what your customers tell you they need, you'll end up with a Frankenstein product no-one uses.

Dig into the problems your customers are struggling with, not the solutions they think they want.

Failure is inevitable

Most of your product ideas will fail.

Even the most successful product teams get it wrong 50% of the time—you need to learn to embrace your losses if you ever want to have any wins.

PMs shouldn't write user stories

User stories are NOT product requirements.

They're signposts to the ways your product might solve your customer's problem. You need to discover them as a team, not throw them over the wall to engineering.

You don't need frameworks for everything

What worked in someone else's situation isn't guaranteed to work in yours.

Frameworks can help guide your process, but don't use them as a crutch—you need to do what's right for your team, your product and your customers.

Sometimes the HiPPO is right

Just because an idea originated with your C-suite it doesn't mean it's wrong.

There's a dangerous tendency to dismiss executives' opinions because they're not "product people." In reality, though, their ideas have as much value as anyone's.

Your product isn't as important as you think it is

Your product plays a tiny role in your customer's life.

The problem you're solving is probably one of 100s they regularly need to deal with. Don't get frustrated if they don't care about it as much as you want them to.

Making the leap from Product Manager to Product Leader 🚀

Stepping up from product manager to product leader is hard.

Like moving from footballer to football coach, the skillset you need as manager of PMs is vastly different to what made you successful as an individual contributor.

Luckily, though, a lot of talented product people have made the leap and written about their experiences.

Here's a thread of some of the best resources on what it takes to make it as a product leader 👇

My favourite tweets of the week 🐦

I spend a lot of time hanging out on product management Twitter. Here are my favourite product-related tweets from the last seven days 👇

There's no right or wrong way to do product management

Sometimes a conversation is the best way to solve a problem

Glorifying product management leads to bad PM behaviour

How to stop your calendar looking like Tetris

If you understand game mechanics you can move mountains

What I've been reading 📚

Emily Patterson asked on Twitter this week if anyone had a good article that covers "what the hell is product management."

My recommendation is always this piece by Josh Elman. It's nearly a decade old now, but it still stands up:

Product management is one of the hardest jobs to define in any organization, partially because it’s different in every company. I’ve had several recent conversations about “what is a product…

I posted a tweet a few days ago that UX is more important than tech in product.

One reply asked about products without UX, like alogrithms. My argument is the algorithm is not the product, which this article digs into in more. detail:

One of the first lessons I learned in the industry, is that even though we build highly complex algorithms designed to solve a specific problem, these tools need to be used by a client. Whether…

Estimations are not commitments, but often the two get confused.

This short article explains the difference and why we need to keep them separate:

Remember the difference between an estimate and a commitment and keep the two activities separate, educating management and customers as necessary.

That’s it!

See you next week (probably).


The Punk PM

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