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Product Development and Culture – Malcolm Ong, Co-founder of Skillshare
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Product Development and Culture – Malcolm Ong, Co-founder of Skillshare


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  • 1. Product Development & Culture ! Apr 2014 Malcolm Ong | Entrepreneur-in-Residence | @malcolmcasey
  • 2. About myself
  • 3. How do we get from 
 Product to Business? ! 1. Who: Leadership 2. Why & What: Vision & Focus 3. How: Product-centric Team Culture Agenda
  • 4. I. Leadership
  • 5. “Product Management is not babysitting. It’s a leadership role. It’s about driving a product by taking ownership and making decisions. ” ! Josh Viney Dir. Product Development, Eastmedia ! 1. Product Leadership
  • 6. 1. Set the Product Vision - Ensure that everyone on your team knows and agrees with where you’re headed ! 2. Instill a Product-centric Culture early - Start now and develop as team grows - Deliver simple and creative solutions, despite complex problems. - Get things done and ship with focus. Product Lead (you!)
  • 7. II. Vision & Focus
  • 8. “It doesn’t matter how good your engineering team is if they are not given something worthwhile to build.” Marty Cagan ! ! “Getting a bunch of smart people together only gets you so far. As a product grows, more and more possible directions will present themselves. A strong product vision is what will allow the team to properly prioritize and focus on the right things.” ! Alex Rainert Head of Product, foursquare
  • 9. Company Vision “If we had to rebuild education from the ground-up, what would it look like?” ! Democratize education and empower anyone to teach. ! Product Vision: what problem are you solving? “Education” provides little value for allowing people to learn what they want at an affordable price. ! Community marketplace to learn anything from anyone. Define your Product Vision
  • 10. MLP = desirable* w/ personality** - desirable: “providing an insanely great product experience and creating value for the end user” - personality: a voice, a mission, stand for something ! ! ! ! ! ! * source: Andrew Chen ** source: Fred Wilson Focus on validating your vision
  • 11. “This can be as simple as going to a meetup for dog lovers if you're building out a dog application, or visiting the doctor 3x in one month to talk to them about how they file share and send x-rays out online.  I won’t ever be an MD, but I can use my computer like one.” ! Soraya Darabi Co-Founder, Foodspotting Former Product Lead, Get out of the building
  • 12. Is your product a must-have? - what % of people would be very disappointed if they could no longer use it? (40%*) ! Is your product a 0-to-1 or a 1-to-2? - difference between a product and a business ! Why won’t your idea work? (e.g. only “teachers” can teach; you have to have a degree to “teach”) ! What are 3 solutions to address these gaps? (e.g. work with people with no teacher training and teach them) ! * source: Sean Ellis Get feedback & Iterate
  • 13. The greatest cost to a startup is time. Most startups fail because they create the wrong product for the wrong market.
  • 14. source: Sean Ellis
  • 15. “Make something people love.” - Alexis Ohanian
  • 16. III. Product Culture
  • 17. PayPal Mafia
  • 18. 1. Extreme focus & bias to action. ! 2. Dedication to individual accomplishment. ! 3. Refusal to accept constraints, external or internal. ! 4. Radical transparency on metrics. ! 5. Vigorous debate. Culture @ PayPal
  • 19. “It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” ! - Extreme focus & simplicity - Action oriented (e.g. Action Meetings) - Done is better than perfect - Solutions, not problems - Over-communicate (transparency) - Set audacious goals Culture @ Skillshare
  • 20. “Much more important than working hard is knowing how to find the right thing to work on.” ! Caterina Fake Co-Founder, flickr & Hunch Extreme Focus
  • 21. "People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the 100 other good ideas that there are." ! - Steve Jobs, Apple
  • 22. source: Ash Maurya Done is better than perfect
  • 23. source: Ash Maurya Done is better than perfect
  • 24. 1. Align Product Vision
 Goal: get everyone on the same page This can be done through a strategic brief or brainstorming session Annually, Quarterly, Monthly ! 2. Product Sprint Goal: define 1-2 things that need to get done w/ measures of success Identify owners and milestones. Don’t micro-manage. ! 3. Horizon List Goal: features, ideas, etc that will be implemented in the future Product Process @ Skillshare
  • 25. Product Design Sprint @ Skillshare 1. Sketch 2. Wireframe 3. User Flows 4. UI Design 5. Test 3 / 1
  • 26. Sample User Flows source: 37 Signals
  • 27. Resources
  • 28. Resources Lean Startup (Eric Ries): ! MDP (Andrew Chen): ! Culture @ Netflix
  • 29. Q&A Malcolm Ong