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My Product Management Mistakes

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The longer you are work in product management, the more mistakes you make. You learn which parts of frameworks work, and which are overkill. You learn to trust you gut. You learn from your mistakes.

Here are my mistakes, and what I've learned.

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My Product Management Mistakes

  1. 1. A COLLECTION OF MISTAKES I’ VE MA D E IN MY CA RE E R AS A PRODUCT MAN AG E R I ’ V E M A D E A H U G E M I S T A K E #PRO DUCTTANKTO @UN BRELIEVABL E
  2. 2. Butfirst,whoamI?. Second,whowasI?.
  3. 3. I’vefeltlikethisin myjob. Alot.
  4. 4. Don’tbesmug.You’ve probablymade,andwill make,alotofmistakestoo. Let’slearnfrommine.
  5. 5. 01Think you know your users. MI STA KE
  6. 6. You can’t change behaviour of your users and force them to do what you want. Spend time with them, understand how they use your product, and how they use other products. Create a focus group of users to supplement what you can’t be, because who wants to be 14 again, anyways? Iwas14yearsold once,butthat doesn’tmeanI knowwhat14year oldswantnow.
  7. 7. 02Listen to your users too much. MI STA KE
  8. 8. Qualitative user research is great for understand why someone uses your product and to get a deeper understanding of their problems. It should not be used for testing two options against each other to see which performs better. Just because your users say they like it, doesn’t mean it will succeed. A/B test or release incrementally and measure. “Watchwhatthey do,notwhatthey say.”
  9. 9. 03Use a/b testing to solve arguments. MI STA KE
  10. 10. A/B testing is powerful, but can be costly to your organization. They aren’t meant to be a tiebreaker or mediator of egos and opinions. Only A/B test decisions that can impact conversion, or key metrics of your business. Also, never run an test variant that you don’t want to win. Noteverythingis worthyofana/btest.
  11. 11. 04Be too prescriptive with requirements. MI STA KE
  12. 12. Set the direction and outline business requirements, but if your find yourself saying “clicking this button does this”, you are prescribing too much. Give your team the freedom to determine the “how”. Teach them your thought process, and empower them to make decisions. Let go of total control. Let go of the 20 page requirements docs. Youdon’thavea teamofrobots. (Well,maybe).
  13. 13. 05Use a process just because Google uses it. MI STA KE
  14. 14. Not all problems are equal, and so we shouldn’t treat them as such when it comes to coming up with solutions. Ask yourself “what is the bare minimum validation I need?”. Sometimes it’s a conversation, a data point, a few hours of research, or sometimes you need to dive in head first. DO WHAT WORKS. Noteverythingneedsa weeklongdiscovery.
  15. 15. 06Listen to blog posts. MI STA KE
  16. 16. Other companies should be a source of ideas and inspiration, but you always need to test and measure yourself. When you do get positive results, document them and share internally so others can learn from your success. Justbecauseit workedforone company,doesn’t meanitwillworkfor you.
  17. 17. 07Roll your eyes at your sales team requests. MI STA KE
  18. 18. More importantly, your sales team is talking to prospects and customers much more than you. They hear what areas your competitors have you beat, and why customers leave you. The better the sales team understands your product, the better they can sell. Set up regular 1:1s with them, show them product progress, and don’t keep them in the dark. And don’t discount their feedback. Youwon’thavea paychequewithout yoursalesteam.
  19. 19. 08Think you have all the answers. MI STA KE
  20. 20. Say it out loud: I don’t know. You have a lot of smart people on your team, and you are doing yourself, your team, and your users a disservice by taking it all on and having all the answers. Hold regular brainstorms, involve other parts in the business in coming up with solutions, and guide ideation by outlining problems. Ask questions. A lot. Don’tbeahero.
  21. 21. 09Think you have none of the answers. MI STA KE
  22. 22. Listentoyourgut. With access to all the data, blog posts, feature requests, slack messages and emails coming at you all day, you can get easily get hit with “Analysis Paralysis”, where you are analyzing things so much you get to the point in which you are paralyzed and can’t make a decision. If it feels wrong, it probably is wrong.
  23. 23. 10Think you aren’t good enough. MI STA KE
  24. 24. Some days I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. Product Management is generally a thankless job, so we need to support one another and share wins and failures. Check your ego, accept and admit failure and it will make you a better PM, and a better person. Theimposter syndromeis real.
  25. 25. Now, it’s your turn.
  26. 26. At your table, take 5 minutes to think about some of the mistakes you have made in your career. Go around the table and share one mistake, and what you learned from it. It’stimeforproduct managertherapy.
  27. 27. T H A N K Y O U @UNBRELIEVABLE

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