Be a great product leader by Adam Nash, VP Product, Dropbox
Be a Great
Adam Nash, VP of Product & Growth,
“There’s a thin line
between being a hero
and being a memory.”
World Class Product
• This all started with a conversation I had with Reid
Hoffman in 2007.
• Most people start or join new companies because they
think “we can do better this time.” They come to build a
• These are the top lessons I’ve personally gained over the
past two decades about product management for
modern consumer software.
Prioritization: Three Buckets
• Metrics Movers
These pay the bills. In the end, software that doesn’t
justify itself will lose the ability to fund itself.
• Customer Requests
If you don’t listen to customers, they will lose faith and
eventually hate you.
If you don’t delight customers, you won’t inspire passion
and loyalty in your users.
It’s About the Whole Product
• Can’t we find features that have all three? No.
• Metrics movers are rarely requested or delightful.
• Customer requests rarely move metrics or delight people.
• Delight features rarely move metrics & by definition, are
• Great products, however, combine all three.
Find the Heat
• There are two ways to boost engagement: lower friction
or increasing desire.
• Software teams love to focus on the first, and rarely dive
into the second.
• Exceptional experiences depend on capturing the real
nuances of human interaction.
Don’t Be Afraid to Talk
• Heat is a placeholder term for emotions that drive action,
both positive and negative. Emotion. Passion. Desire.
• What strong emotions drive the actions in your products?
• Look for “Magic Moments.”
Simple is Hard
• It’s true in design, metrics, prioritization, and strategy.
• We all fear the fate of Microsoft Office.
• What’s the one thing you want the user to do?
• What’s the job your customers are hiring you to do?
• The great gift of mobile-first design.
• Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.
• Dropbox Spaces is the
evolution of the shared
folder, an experience
that brings the “smart
workspace” to life
• Dropbox users value
the simplicity of the
• Spaces allows
Dropbox to bring new
features to the
elegantly when users
add metadata to a
• Software teams tend to focus
extensively on their users.
• They spend increasingly little time
on people who don’t use their
• You have more non-users than
• Your brand is often determined by
the way your product touches
• Common Product Questions:
• Should we build this?
• When should we build this?
• How should should we build this?
• Teams will debate “should” when
the question really is “when.”
• Thinking backwards from the
• Visualize success in five years. If
you have the feature at that point,
you are just debating when.
• Debating when is critical, but it
tends to be a more objective
discussion than “if.”
from the Future
Know Your Superpower
• Software is a team sport.
• Each function brings something critical & deserves respect.
• Every function has a superpower when it comes to decisions.
• Product - the power to frame the discussion w/ strategy & metrics.
• Design - the power of visualization of possible choices.
• Engineering - the power to show what is possible.
• These powers require hard work & specialization.
We can be our own
Products are never
We are always learning,
and our customers are