SOS: Mistakes That Every Product Manager Should Avoid!

So last week, India witnessed four new unicorns — and there is always a new product getting out in the market!

There is so much competition and options to choose from. The industry is loaded with ‘kinda similar’ products with their ‘own’ USPs and offerings. Then what makes them unique? What keeps them in demand?

In the pre & post-pandemic world, product management has been constant (and yes, it’s going to remain the same way). Just that with every new day, every product demands a new change and a new variation. 

So the humans behind this, aka the product managers, ought to be efficient, focused, and smart to make the product a boom in the market.

What will it take for product managers to stop being PRD-writers and become outcome driven? Learn from the experts. Apply for NextBigWhat’s Product Workshop [Click For More Details]

Now, this could be really subjective — everyone has their own way of thinking and implementing ideas. But what remains common is their thought process — the decisions they make and the mistakes they commit.

Given below are some of the common yet ‘non-negotiable’ mistakes that product managers end up making in order to make their product BIG!

Working towards a preconceived goal 

A product manager’s job calls for a person’s ability to ask the right questions at the right time. This implies that you should be able to analyse the data provided efficiently, test it and get in touch with your customer/team for valuable insight. 

Working on a preconceived goal is great. However, sometimes it clouds the judgement of a person. As a consequence, the ideas of the product development team are bound within a box. This acts as a corrosive action against the basic idea of innovation.  

Focusing only on customers’ needs

Focusing on customer’s needs is important for every company. However, you must realise that your customer doesn’t possess the creative thinking and enhanced ability your team does. 

If you keep trying to satisfy your customer’s needs, you won’t be able to innovate a revolutionary product. This might keep your company running for now but will lead you to failure in the long run.

Misidentification of features as benefits

Every product has its features and specs. Sometimes, a company creates an amazing product that might work great for techies or the Millenials who want to keep up with modern-day technology. 

But your everyday consumer might not be amazed by the same. This is why you have to analyse your consumer groups separately and keep that in mind while creating a new product.   

Ignorance towards communication gap

One of the major reasons for any product failure is the communication gap between the different levels of the organisation. 

Any product manager should understand, an organisation is just like a bicycle, where you need to keep paddling to move forward. With proper planning and tech by your side, you can keep your team constantly informed and motivated to achieve the desired goal. 

Misidentifying the end-user and consumer as the same

This is one of the common mistakes that most product managers commit. Since their dealing is primarily with the customer or the person with the money bag, they are not able to address the pain points of the end-user. 

To cure this problem, the sales and marketing team can come in real handy. Their expertise and knowledge regarding the customer and his users can help you address the barriers to your product’s success. 

Setting unrealistic timelines

As the competition rises every day, each company wants to deliver their product as soon as possible. This forces a project manager to set unrealistic timelines for his team. This, in turn, affects the quality of the end-product. 

When you are setting up timelines, you should ensure that they are feasible and realistic. Also, don’t forget to consider the different factors that can affect your project’s timeline, for example, the number of resources, number of working hours, time-taken by different processes, etc.!

Obsession with Novelty

A large number of companies are obsessed with the term “new”. They believe that their novelty might create an irresistible temptation in the mind of their users. However, every year, only 5% of the newly launched products see the dawn of success

Quite low, huh?

This is why one should realise, sometimes innovation isn’t enough. A product must be able to add value to the life of its customer. Your everyday user relies on value, and this is what propels the engine of your organisation forward. 

While there are many points that one could share from their own learning and experiences, these are the ‘highlighted’ ones — the ones that need to be bridged. 

If you are a product manager and have got some ‘gyan’ to share with us, drop us an email or say ‘hi’ on our social media platforms. Let the world hear what you have to say! 🙂

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Announcing NextBigWhat Meetup: Essential Skills Of A Product Manager

The role of a Product Manager varies from company to company and industry to industry, however, the core skills remain the same across sectors. To help you identify those and to ensure that your focus is on the right areas as aspiring PMs, our next meetup is all about the essential skills that a Product Manager should have.

Ashish Sinha, founder at NextBigWhat will be joined by a special guest speaker who will be sharing insights for practitioners and aspiring PMs alike. This time we are delighted that Diwakar Kaushik, VP – Products at Go-Jek will be joining us.

Keep growing. Keep learning. Sign up for the meetup below.


Meetup Agenda

TimingTopicSpeaker
2:00 PMRegistration Begins
2:30 PMRoles of a Product ManagerAshish Sinha
3:00 PMEssential Skills Of A Product ManagerDiwakar Kaushik
4:00 PMAMA with the speakersYou.
4:20 PMNetworking & Coffee BreakAll of us. 🙂

Date : Oct 19th
Timing: 14:00 PM to 16:30 PM
Venue: Gojek Office, Diamond District, Bengaluru.
Pricing: This is a free event..
Who should attend? Aspiring Product Managers, Current Product Managers and Founders (who are hiring their first product manager).


Register


Meetup Speakers

Diwakar Kaushik, VP – Products @ Go-Jek

Diwakar is VP – Products at Go-Jek. He has been heading the product team responsible for creating and scaling GoJek’s payments product GoPay which is now the largest digital wallet in Indonesia and is still one of the fastest growing payments products in the world. Previously a 2x founder, he has worked with PepperTap, Snapdeal, Sapient and CGI. He tweets about product management, startups, teams etc @pentropy.

Talk topic: Essential Skills Of A Product Manager

Ashish Sinha

Ashish Sinha, Founder
NextBigWhat

Ashish Sinha is the founder of NextBigWhat and an instructor at NextBigWhat Academy’s Product Management Course.

Talk topic: Roles Of A Product Manager.


PS: The meetup is part of NextBigWhat’s Unboxing Product Management Series of events, webinars and activities.

If you are venturing into product management function – go ahead and apply for the upcoming batch of NextBigWhat Academy’s Product Management Course.

AMA Notes: “Launch plan: Build half a product. Not a half-ass product.” [With Jason Fried of Basecamp]

NextBigWhat’s Wednesday AMAs are now something that a lot of you in the product and growth community look forward to, and we do our best to get the top minds who can answer your queries and share their wisdom.

In the week prior to this, we had Shashank Mehta, Director of Product Strategy at Razorpay sharing his insights on Product Management and his take on the field.

In this week’s AMA, we had an incredibly well-known name – New York Times bestselling author and Founder & CEO of Basecamp, Jason Fried. It was an absolute delight to have him over and he took on all the questions – ranging from building a product to dealing with distraction – with aplomb.

Jason Fried: AMA @NextBigWhat
Jason Fried: AMA @NextBigWhat

The NextBigWhat AMA is supported by the awesome team @GOJEK. GOJEK is hiring great engineers and product leaders for its India offices (checkout the openings here).

Here are a few excerpts from the AMA:

How does Basecamp approach new product development?

We’ve always approached product development the same way: selfishly. We build what we need, and then we find other people like us that want what we’ve made. When you make things for other people it’s really hard to know if it’s any good. When you make something for yourself, you can directly judge efficacy. [Read More]

Does Basecamp have roadmaps?

No roadmaps. We think 6-weeks at a time (https://basecamp.com/shapeup/0.3-chapter-01#six-week-cycles). The future is a direction. It’s like “heading towards something” without having to define every single step along the way. “Let’s go this way”, or “Let’s generally head in this direction” and then you figure it out 6 weeks a time as you go. [Read More]

What makes you so productive?

I get a lot done because I don’t have much to do. I know that sounds odd, but it’s true. On any given day I have a couple things to do, and I try to focus entirely on those things. I don’t keep a personal to-do list, I don’t overwhelm myself with a long list of stuff I’ll never get to, I don’t keep a backlog of things I must do in the future. I ruthlessly edit down what I need to do, and just do what’s left. [Read More]

What kind of a launch plan would you recommend to young entrepreneurs?

Launch plan… “Build half a product, not a half-ass product”. The tendency is to want to make version 1 AMAZING and include EVERYTHING, but that leads to super long projects and time frames which can be demoralizing. So we recommend ruthlessly editing down and picking the best half of your ideas. Start there for your first version. And then add more and improve once you’re released. [Read More]

What books would you recommend?

I think “Turn The Ship Around” is a great book on leadership. And “Thinking In Bets” is a good one re: decision making. But I typically think business books are too long. I think you can learn more from reading good short writing like Warren Buffet’s annual shareholder letters. Bezos’s shareholder letters, too.

Books by Jason Fried:

[Read the rest here]

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If you are getting into Product Management, do apply for the upcoming cohort of NextBigWhat’s Product Management Course.

Aside, the next AMA is scheduled for Wednesday — go ahead and join the community of DOERs and stay Pluggd.in

Your Roadmap To Product Roadmaps

A Product Roadmap is a fundamental part of Product Management. It helps align teams, provides a vision and helps keep track of the necessary big picture view that stakeholders as well as team personnel require.

The creation and maintenance of executable and high quality roadmaps is a methodical process and there are a variety of opinions on how a Product Manager should go about it.

In this collection, we have gathered a number of articles and videos that will help you get up and running with the entire process.

A Product Manager’s First 90 Days: What all should you do (and don’t)?

A Product Manager has to deal with a whole host of responsibilities from the moment he/she joins a firm. The ideal timeline for the first 90 days has been nicely articulated in this video by Todd Birzer of Kevolve Product Management. Starting from initial market research to working with the development team, here are the key takeaways:

  1. Learn – via Ethnographic Research and Competitor Analysis.
  2. Strategy – Create Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) that are important.
  3. New Product Development – Build Discovery and Delivery process and Development Buckets with Engineers and Designers.
  4. Initial Pricing Analysis.
  5. Build Credibility.
  6. Create Early Wins.

Want to kickstart your product management career? Go for our Product Management Course and become a 10X better product leader!

What is the Product Management Career Path?

In this video, Ben Miller of ProductPlan provides a great intro to the career path for most Product Management roles in firms across the world. Since the role has come into much greater spotlight from relative obscurity due to the rise of tech firms over the last decade, the typical path is still unknown to many.

The typical career path for a Product Manager is:

  1. Associate Product Manager
  2. Product Manager
  3. Senior Product Manager
  4. Director of Product
  5. VP of Product
  6. Chief Product Officer

Want to kickstart your product management career? Go for our ProductGeeks Product Management Course and become a 10X better product leader!

How useful is an MBA for a Product Manager?

How useful is an MBA for a Product Manager? Is it even necessary? You will find varying opinions across the industry on the subject.

While some believe that it equips Product Managers with the nitty-gritties of management, there are also those who deem it unnecessary. Richard Pryor, an experienced internet Product Manager shares his experience of having an MBA and making it work as a PM.

Key Takeaways:

  1. The idea that a Product Manager is akin to being the CEO of a product, and hence an MBA helps you with managing that microcosm.
  2. An MBA gives you a broad scope of skills i.e accounts, operations, negotiation etc. that is useful in Product Management as you will be working on varied activities that will require drawing from all of that knowledge.

Kickstart your Product Management career with NextBigWhat Academy’s Product Management Course. Featuring 10+ product leaders from across the industry.

The Art of Product Management with Sachin Rekhi

“Product managers drive the vision, strategy, design, and execution of their product. While one can often quickly comprehend the basic responsibilities of the role, mastering each of these dimensions is truly an art form that one is constantly honing. In this presentation I’ll share my lessons learned over the last decade as a product manager in Silicon Valley on the art behind each of these dimensions of product management.”


Sachin Rekhi is a serial entrepreneur and product leader who has spent the last decade developing innovative products in Silicon Valley.