The Backlog: FAQs on Product

The one where the product manager answers about product

Hey there! I occasionally send it out shorter posts on topics that I’ve been thinking about it, but aren’t long reads. These posts will be titled The Backlog (I’m a PM after all). They will be more evergreen and foundational in nature. Onto today’s post!

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A few weeks ago, I held a Twitter AMA on product management and product strategy. Below is a collection of my favorite questions and answers.

How much time should PMs spend thinking about distribution?

At least 10% of the their time and maybe more depending on their product space. I think more PMs should think about distribution as part of the product. No product has ever sold itself. The best products happen to have distribution advantages. That’s not a coincidence.

What should be a PM’s goal for a successful product review?

Every product review should uncover nuggets that sharpen your thinking and strengthen your understanding of the problem space and your solution (validation, invalidation or gaps). Your goal is not to win a product review, but to get better as a PM.

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What’s something that Tech Twitter gets wrong about product management?

Frameworks. PM frameworks are useful as a foundation, but 90% of your PM work is contextual (your product space, org and company).

What’s been the most humbling part about being a PM?

The most humbling part about being a PM is realizing that your product sense isn’t always right. You need to get close to the user/customer’s goals in order to understand what your team needs to build or not build.

Is there a difference in being a PM for B2B vs. B2C products?

Yes. IMO they require different mindsets and approaches to product building and problem-solving. For most B2C use cases, the customer is the end user. In B2B, that’s not always the case. Here’s one of my piece that breaks down the differences between B2B and B2C problems.

How does your "product gut" help you navigate decisions and potentially conflicting data?

Product gut or product sense should be attuned to customer needs and data should inform whether your sense or gut is off. Data is a temperature check; not a north star.

How do you think about managing to inputs vs managing to outputs?

My framework is “inputs = process and outputs = outcomes”. Process is a very important, but the outcome is the reason you’re building what you’re building. Good process is necessary, but insufficient if you don’t achieve your outcome.

How do you describe “Product Management” vs “Product Design”?

Product management is the process and execution of bringing a product to market that helps a customer achieve their goal. Product design is the creation of the optimal experience the customer should have using said product.

Have you ever worked on a product with monetization potential for B2B and B2C customers? What was your thought process on deciding how to focus efforts/pursue the best monetization strategy?

Yes I have! The process goes like this:

  • Where is the need most urgent?

  • Which market is likely to be bigger in the next few years?

  • Is my team properly resourced (product, UX, engineering) for either opportunity?

  • What’s the distribution strategy (it will be different for each)?

  • Competition?

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If you have questions about product (especially if you work in another function), please them in the comments and I will answer them!

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