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How to Think Big, Start Small and Fail Fast by Google PM Lead

How to Think Big, Start Small and Fail Fast by Google PM Lead

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Main takeaways:
- Thinking big: expand your ideas and understand today and dream up tomorrow. This will take your company/product into the future
- Start small: it's time to go into validation stage, organize your ideas into a roadmap that starts small and builds more value over time
-Failing fast: learn from your failures and do it fast (if you never failed, you probably did not aim high enough)

Main takeaways:
- Thinking big: expand your ideas and understand today and dream up tomorrow. This will take your company/product into the future
- Start small: it's time to go into validation stage, organize your ideas into a roadmap that starts small and builds more value over time
-Failing fast: learn from your failures and do it fast (if you never failed, you probably did not aim high enough)


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How to Think Big, Start Small and Fail Fast by Google PM Lead

  1. 1. How to Think Big, Start Small and Fail Fast by Google PM Lead
  2. 2. Join 35,000+Product Managers on Free Resources Discover great job opportunities Job Portal
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  10. 10. Alex Levich T O N I G H T ’ S S P E A K E R
  11. 11. Think big, start small, fail fast The art of building consumer products
  12. 12. Agenda Introduction Think Big Start Small Fail Fast
  13. 13. What is important in building consumer products? Innovation Impact Data Goals Privacy Security Pricing Envisioning the future Solving real problems Getting to market fast Differentiation Product quality User feedback Growth hacking ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
  14. 14. What are the top priorities in building sustainable consumer products? Envisioning the future Differentiation & Innovation Impact
  15. 15. What is innovation? Ability to come up with and execute new big ideas that change conventional ways. Making meaningful impact on customers, company, and markets.
  16. 16. The 3 stages of innovation Ideation: how can we come up with big ideas that change conventional ways? Validation: how do we validate that these ideas can bring meaningful impact? Scaling: how do we scale validated ideas to the whole market so they make meaningful impact?
  18. 18. Agenda Introduction Think Big Start Small Fail Fast
  19. 19. Think BIG Start from thinking BIG VALIDATION SCALING Envision the Future & Generate ideas IDEATION: ITERATE & FAIL FAST START SMALL
  20. 20. Envision The Future Think BIG: who do you want to be? What will the future be like? b What are the problems people have/will have? b What about other players? What are your assets? What are the pain points What do you do really well? What are other players What types of problems are you excited solve?
  21. 21. Thinking BIG expands your ideas Video consumption is moving to mobile and other smart devices, which do not always allow for sound People consume videos around the world and they are not always in their language Everyone is trying to make contextualized content that is most relevant for each user Auto-generate subtitles for video
  22. 22. Thinking BIG expands your ideas Let’s make videos understandable by everyone, anywhere, anytime Auto-dubb the video into user’s language using the original voice Auto-generate subtitles for video Open up API for third parties Auto-translates into user’s language Auto-turn on subtitles/turns off sound based on user environment ... ... ... ...
  23. 23. Agenda Introduction Think Big Start Small Fail Fast
  24. 24. After thinking BIG, start SMALL SCALING ITERATE & FAIL FAST Create your Roadmap & Start validating it VALIDATION: Start SMALL IDEATION THINK BIG
  25. 25. Break down ideas into users problems Why is not your BIG vision a reality? What are the problems users have that we want to solve? How do we know these problems are real pain points? How will we know when we solved them?
  26. 26. User Problems help you execute To align the team on what we are trying to solve for To find a solution that solves the problem To keep the team on track to build the right solution To evaluate results and iterate
  27. 27. Example: VideoTube users problems Users’ problems People don’t understand videos without sound People can’t always have sound when they are on their mobile on the go People in non-english speaking countries are interested in videos by english speaking celebrities, but they don’t understand the language Vision Let’s make videos understandable by everyone, anywhere, anytime
  28. 28. Form roadmap from users problems You can’t solve everything at once Prioritize and sequence Build more and more value along the way Users Problem #6 Users Problem #5 Users Problem #4 Users Problem #3 Users Problem #2 Users Problem #1 START
  29. 29. Build MVP. Listen. Iterate. Validate solutions to users’ problems Solve the users problem Dogfood your product Obsess over data Listen to your customers Know when to say NO Be crisp on your goals
  30. 30. Agenda Introduction Think Big Start Small Fail Fast
  32. 32. Failing FAST and LEARNING is OK Failing is part of the process Failing and learning enables iteration If you never failed, you probably did not aim high enough If you fail, do it FAST and LEARN how to succeed in the future
  33. 33. Use DATA to fail FAST and LEARN Set goals based on user behavior and users’ problem Validate your ideas through qualitative and quantitative research Understand the success or failure of your solutions through qualitative and quantitative analysis
  34. 34. Example: VideoTube video subtitles Vision Let’s make videos understandable by everyone, anywhere, anytime Users’ problem People don’t understand videos without sound. People dont have sound when they are on mobile. Iteration process (1) Validate the problem with user research (2) Set a goal. Eg to increase mobile video watch time (3) Determine solution. Validate solution with user research (4) Experiment and watch user behavior. Is there a problem? If so, why? (5) Analyze flows, behaviors. Talk to users. (6) Find the new pain point and solve for that
  35. 35. Learn and iterate at every stage Validate ideas through research Learn from success or failure Iterate to come up with new ideas Set goals based on people problems Dogfood your product Listen to your customers Obsess over data Learn from success or failure Ideation Validation & Scaling Iterate to build scalable solutions that make meaningful impact
  36. 36. Summary IDEATION: THINK BIG (1) Envision the future (2) Generate ideas (3) Validate the problems VALIDATION: START SMALL (1) Create a staged roadmap (2) Focus on users problems & solutions (3) Validate your solutions FAIL FAST & ITERATE (1) That’s part of the game (2) Learn from success or failure AND THEN, SCALE!
  37. 37. Thank You! Facebook: @alexandralev LinkedIn: @alexandralev Twitter: @alex_lev
  38. 38. Part-time Product Management, Coding, Data Analytics, Digital Marketing, UX Design, Product Leadership courses and Corporate Training

Editor's Notes

  • "As you checked in we sent you an email to join our online communities, events, and to apply for product management jobs. As members of the Product School community we'd like to provide you with these resources at your disposal."
  • Have been in the tech industry for over 17 years
    Started in engineering and early on moved over to product as I was passionate about what we should be building to bring products to market that millions and billions of people love and use every day
    Worked in companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and even Israeli Intelligence Corps
    Today I lead on of the product areas in Google Maps, after spending the last 3 years at Facebook, first running brand video monetization and later on helping companies and brands build out their customer communities
    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about how these top tier companies build successful innovative products and have developed a framework that I am going to share with you today.
    An important disclaimer is that this presentation does not represent any of the my current or previous employers and the views represented here are solely my own
    Now that you know a little bit about me, let us understand you guys, the audience. Ask about: product, consumer, startup, big companies, innovative companies, space.
    All right, lets begin
  • Before we talk about the framework, lets try to understand first what is important in building consumer products.
  • Thats a question for you guys, please raise your hands and share what you think is important in building consumer products.

    Why are we building this?
    What's the goal?
    What data do we have to support this?
  • Now, what do you think is the most important?

    I am going to make a claim that while all the things we mentioned are important, the top most important aspects of building sustainable successful consumer products are the following.

    Now, thats all great, but the question becomes how do we get there? How do we build products that prioritize these aspects? Ideas? :)
    Well, to find the answer, I actually took a look at the definition of innovation
  • To tell you the truth, even the process of finding the definition of innovation was not conventional. There are gazillion of different definitions out there, but this is the one that I’ve seen to be true in my experience. READ. Now, if we stop and think about it, there are actually 3 important aspects of this definition - we have to come up with ideas, we have to execute them (surprise surprise), and we have to make meaningful impact. And all that has to not just be different than what others do, it has to be different than the conventional way of doing things.

  • It turns out that this is exactly the stages of how top tier companies in the valley are building products - ideation, validation and scaling. Ideation: how do we come up with these big ideas that can change how things have been done? Validation: how do we validate that these ideas indeed work? And finally scaling: once we identify ideas that work, how do we scale them to our whole market to our whole world?
  • So if we adopt these stages in our product development process, theoretically we should all be building innovative products, right? But I guess it is not as easy as that. Sustainable innovation comes from incorporating these stages into the core of what you do and how you do it. The framework I want to introduce today is about the approach we can take to each one of these stages to help us build great innovative products.
    Thing BIG, start SMALL and ITERATE & FAIL FAST. Lets talk about each one of these stages.

    you might want to caution that fail fast need to be balanced with whether the stakes of failure are high (Eg.. Teranos example)? For example, you could present a simple 2x2 matrix with "Impact of failure" (high/low) vs. "Ability to Undo/interate" (high/low), and explain when you cold iterate and fails fast, where you can't?
  • Your job at ideation stage, understand today and dream up tomorrow. Because it will take your company/product into the future + bring customers.
    Base creativity on things you know about your customers, company, competitors and the world

    When you are at the ideation stage, your job is to understand today and dream up what tomorrow would be like. That will help you generate ideas that can help your company move into the future and take your customers with you. Think really BIG, dream, invent, be crazy and think outside of the box. At the same time, to come up with good ideas, you cant do it in a vacuum, you have to base your creativity on understanding your customers, your company, your competitors and the world.
  • Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you go through this stage. They focus on 4 categories of things, trends in your space and the world, competitor trends, user behavior trends and finally you, your company, your product.
  • Example
    Here is a simplified imaginery example. Lets say your company allows users to upload videos and display it to other users consuming videos.
    What you see in your space is that READ SLIDE.
    And if you brainstorm about these problems, you can come up with a neat idea. Lets generate subtitles for all the videos people upload so everyone around the world can understand them! Thats awesome, but in this example you probably did not think BIG enough. Lets see how thinking BIG can change the paradigm here.
  • Example
    Paradigm shift is enabled by thinking BIG
    Validate/ground ideas

    Now you are trying to envision the future by looking You could envision the future and at the trends in video consumption, user needs and competitor trends. You see that video consumption is moving to mobile and other devices around us, but these environments are both at home and on the go. They do not always allow for sound. You also know that the world is global and video consumption is global and people around the world are interested in popular videos from other countries, which may not be in their language. And finally you see that every player is trying hard to make content be contextualized, relevant, personal.

    One vision of the future that you could come up with based on that is videos need to be understandable and enjoyable by everyone, anywhere, anytime. And then, there is a bunch of different ideas you could generate – lets make sure videos have both voice and subtitles and lets auto-figure out when each one is appropriate. Or lets make sure that we auto-translate to people’s language or even auto-dubb. Imagine Taylor Swift’s fans can hear her talk or sing in their native language? That’s kind of cool.

    Thinking BIG can allow you to do a paradigm shift: instead of one feature, you could envision products, platforms, suites of services, etc.

    Lastly, as you come up with these ideas don’t forget to ground these in some information you have validated about user needs you are trying to address.
  • Now, after thinking really really big, you should do the opposite and start small
  • You now have a vision of the future and a bunch of different ideas that together compose the future.
    Its time to go into validation stage. In this stage your job is two fold - organize these ideas into a roadmap that starts small and builds more and more value over time, and start validating these ideas, these building blocks of your roadmap to make sure you are on the right path to the future, on the path to making meaningful impact. In a way you could say that your immediate roadmap is a roadmap of validations.
    Your job at validation stage
    Build roadmap of different validations
  • One of the big questions here is how to actually take this future vision and ideas and break these down into a roadmap and especially a near term validation roadmap.

    To be crisp on your validations, you have to define what you are going to validate well. One approach that worked for me in the past is to break these down into actual user problems you will build MVP solutions for and validate. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help with your definition. You’ve just dreamed up this awesome future, but why is not it here today, what problems people have that we have not solved yet? How do we know these problems exist? We’ve touched upon this in the previous section. And if we were to perfectly solve them and validate, what will we see that would be different in users’ behavior and our metrics? Answering this last question has special importance because it will help define the goal of your validation, the behavior change you are looking to see in your data.

  • The interesting thing about using user problems framing is that it does not just help you figure out your roadmap and what to validate. It helps everyone around you, it helps your team.
    Breaking things down into users problems helps to be crisp on what you are validating, making sure you have the right solution to the problem, aligning the team on what needs to get done and evaluating results and iterating.

    Human, simple, straight-forward
    Solutions - agnostic
    Company benefit - agnostic
    Gets at the why behind observed phenomena
    Functional, emotional or social
  • Lets take a look at the users’ problems from our past example. Our imaginery company is called VideoTube and here is our vision – make vidoes understandable by everyone anywhere anything. Here are simple, human and straighforward users’ problems. READ.
  • Once you have all these users’ problems defined, sequence and prioritize them. You are not going to validate everything at once and you don’t want to. You want to take it one step at a time and it might be the case that your later validations depend on your first ones. Start validating your ideas, your assumptions, your solutions in a staged manner and move forward in your roadmap.
    Form a roadmap from your user problems
    Identify dependencies and priorities and sequence, prioritize, and stage
    Start validating
  • When validating, keep a couple of things in mind.
    Make sure you don’t over build, only build minimum viable product to validate that you are solving the users’ problems. Say NO to anything outside of that.
    Use your product relentlessly and have everyone on your team do the same.
    Look at data and listen to your customers – these are the most important ways you can validate and learn.
    If things do not work, make sure you find out fast and move on either to the next iteration of this idea or to validation of the next idea. Don’t let it drag on.

    MVP and saying NO
    Use product relentlessly
    Data and customers
    Fail fast – find out what does not work fast, learn why that is the case and move to the next iteration

  • So now that we’ve covered the best practices of thinking big and starting small, we must be set for nothing but success, right? Well, not exactly :). The road to success is usually not linear. Iteration and failing fast go hand in hand and are important parts of this process, at every stage. Here is why.
  • First of all, to enable true innovation and not only building incremental known features, you have to allow yourself to fail. You cant expect that if you are able to come up with a lot of crazy out of the box ideas and a futuristic vision, everything is going to succeed and work exactly as you expected. If that was that easy, we will probably be living that futuristic vision already. In this process of coming up with sustainable, successful, innovative products, you have to know failure is part of the game. Failure is a learning, its the realization that this particular way did not succeed for this particular reason. As long as you learned from failure, you may be one step closer to success. Iteration by definition meansmeans you have not yet managed to succeed 100%, that means that you learned something new and you need to do something differently.
    Speed is an important factor in this learning process. One of the reasons we want to break things down to small pieces we can validate is to be able to try these out fast and fail fast and learn fast. One approach that I’ve found helpful is to literally define not only direct goals of your product or iteration, but to define learning goals, of the iteration, or the product, or even of this half. That allows you to be intentional in your learning process and see everything that takes place through that growth and learning lense.

    Failing fast and learning enables innovation
    Learn from failure and success and build on top of these
    Iteration is failing by definition
  • In this process of learning and iteration at every stage, Data is your best friend. That being said, you have to know how to use it wisely to it can best support you. You have to combine quantitative and qualitative data and be driven by your strategy. One of the dangers of relying only on quantitative data only is that it can actually inhibit innovation. Lets say you launch a particular feature that you assume is going to solve a user’s problem. But the resulting metrics do not support it. Metrics are not going up. One could say - well, people just dont like this feature, lets drop it, this solution or perhaps even this user problem are not right. But if you are to combine the metrics you see with looking deeper, talking to users, looking at other metrics, perhaps even related to an adjacent product, you may find that you only need one small iteration to make it all right. In other cases, you may not see huge success of a feature that is actually important to your strategy and enables other behaviors. And decide that despite the metrics you should keep this feature.
    Its very important to have a holistic data-informed picture that you evolve, iterate on and learn from whether you are trying to envision the big future or validating your ideas or even scaling.
  • Lets finish off with a simplified example of an iteration of our favorite imaginery company – VideoTube.

    Step 1: Validate the problem with user research
    Step 2: Set a goal to increase mobile video watch time
    Step 3: Your solution is to auto-generate subtitles and offer video publisher to add these to the video. Validate the solution with publisher research.
    Step 4: Your users watch more video when subtitles are displayed. But subtitles adoption is low. WHY?
    Step 5: Analyze where/how publishers upload videos and talk to publishers. Do they use a different upload flow? Do they need someone else’ approvals? Are the subtitles not correct?
    Step 6: Find the new pain point and solve for that
  • To wrap it all up, iteration and learning happen at every stage.
    At ideation stage, you validate what you are basing your ideas – market trends, user needs, etc. Whether your idea is validated at this stage or not its OK – learn from this new data, build a different idea on top of the one that was not right.
    During validating and scaling stages, you effectively take the same approach to iteration and learning from failure, if it happens.
    Set your goals ahead of time – what has to happen for this to be a success?
    You stick to your MVP - what do you need to cut if its not essential or working?
    You look at data from dogfooding, from customers, from metrics - What your users say? What does your data say? What do you need to change or keep?
    And you learn from every success or failure - understand what factors drove your success and your failure. What could you have done differently to make this failure a success?
    At the end of the day, you need to iterate to build scalable solutions that make meaningful impact.

    Learn and iterate at ideation stage by validating that your ideas are based on real users’ problems
    During validation and scaling, take similar approach: set goals, use your product, look at data/customers, learn from success or failure
    Iterate to build scalable solutions to make meaningful impact
  • Lastly, lets summarize the higher level framework we covered today.

    There are 3 stages to product building that help us build sustainable successful innovative products.
    Ideation – a stage where you have to think really big, envision the future, generate crazy ideas, making sure that problems envisioned are real.
    Validation, a stage where you have to start small, focus on your user problems and solutions, build your roadmap and start validating one by one your MVPs.
    And finally, at every stage, make sure you iterate and if you fail, fail fast and learn – that’s part of the game.
  • Some fun examples we can go through:
    Furniture buying - have to look on multiple sites, create spreadsheets, make choices
    Travel - Italy, dont know where to go, when to go and what to do when there