9 Product Management Ingredients You Cannot Afford to Leave Out
Without the right ingredients, you have no chance of succeeding
Product management is like cooking. You need the right ingredients. Without them, you have little to no chance of succeeding.
Cooking well is a combination of love, ingredients, and recipe. Even if you have the secret recipe from a Michelin-star Chef, you’ll get a horrible outcome with the wrong ingredients.
Here are the ingredients you cannot miss:
Learn from Failures
Whenever I give a talk, I want to understand my audience. I commonly ask them on a scale from 1 to 5 how the key ingredients are present in their daily business. One means not present at all, and five almost every day.
What surprises me is how similar the results are, no matter where I give the talk. I used the same survey at least 20+ times now, and the results don’t vary much.
The following represents around a hundred people. This was filled during the Agile Swarming in Krakow this year.
Having the ingredients in place isn’t good enough; you need to use them. Whenever I see results like the above, I know many opportunities are ahead of product professionals. We can make this game better for everyone.
Let me give you more details and some shortcuts ;D
1. Product Vision
A great product vision puts the team on a mission and sets a clear direction. My favorite vision is from J.F.K:
“Before this decade is out, we land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth.”
It’s audacious, inspiring, achievable, and measurable.
Here’s a template to craft a valuable product vision.
2. Product Strategy
If your team is constantly learning in circles and struggling with decision-making, your product strategy has potential room for improvement.
The product strategy defines the constraints of playing the game. You’ll find many strategy templates. They may confuse you, so let me give you what I use.
My favorite is the Lean Canvas by Ash Maurya because it gives all you need in a single canvas.
A great strategy enables focus on what matters and empowers decision-making.
Get this template to accelerate your lean canvas creation.
3. Product Goals
When teams don’t know where to start, what they probably miss is a Product Goal.
Give bite-size missions for teams. A reasonable timeframe is between one and three months.
Product Goals are new to Scrum, introduced in 2020 when the Scrum Guide was updated, but don’t limit yourself to it. You can use it with Kanban, Scrumban, or whatever else you work with. Just ensure your team has a clear direction of where to go.
Read this example to learn more about it.
4. Business Model
Understanding your business model enables you to connect the dots.
Although Lean Canvas gives you critical answers, it doesn’t cover the business dynamics. I see value in using the business model canvas by Strategyzer because it complements your picture and helps you make better decisions.
Watch this video for more.
5. Value Proposition
How does your product solve your audience’s pains? Answering this question is vital. Without market fit, you have no business.
The value proposition helps you understand how your product relates to customers’ tasks and how it creates desired gains and remedies current pains. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a clear value proposition canvas.
I use the Value Proposition Canvas by Strategyzer.
Watch this video for better understanding.
6. Identify Assumptions
Do you know what you don’t know? Identifying desirability, feasibility, and viability assumptions is mandatory. Yet, a common trap lies ahead. Not everything deserves your attention. Prioritize the most critical ones and test only them.
Asking questions is often more important than giving answers. We are quick to provide answers and often ignore questions. Strive to uncover your blindspots, and this will avoid building a product nobody wants.
Use the Assumption Matrix by David Bland
Use this template to prioritize your assumptions.
7. Test Assumptions
Naming assumptions isn’t enough.
The secret lies behind understanding the proper method to create the learning to justify investing or dropping the idea.
You’ll find dozens of methods to test business ideas. You may be familiar with interviews, prototypes, A/B tests, and shadowing. What if I tell you there are at least 40 others out there? It’s imperative to understand what you want to learn and use the proper method.
I recommend reading Testing Business Ideas by David Bland.
You can also watch this video to sharpen your knowledge.
8. Learn from Failures
You won’t get everything right. Failures are just part of your journey.
I learned that a little mindset twist makes failures more digestible and easy to speak about. Shift from failures to experiments and strive to learn and drop bad ideas quickly.
To treat everything as experiments, defining success criteria and then registering results is fundamental. I put together two templates to make your life easier.
9. Measure Outcomes
Understanding features are a means to an end is critical. Measuring the result is what enables you to create value.
The trouble is knowing what to measure and what not to. You will for sure have hundreds of potential metrics out there, but luckilywas generous to put together the ultimate metric list.
Get the list from here
The secret of cooking is bringing your passion. Don’t limit yourself by frameworks. Use them to help you start, and then use your passion to spicy it up. I’m sure it will become better and more authentic.
When you run a survey like I suggested, the results may frighten you, and you may not even know where to start. Let me tell you a secret. Start with naming assumptions; this is in your power, and you can act immediately. From there, you gain supporters and can move the needle.
Let’s rock the product world together!
If you want to level up your game, I’m running a cohort course, Product Discovery Done Right, and I’m giving the Untrapping Product Teams subscribers 25% until the 12th of May. Run. Spots are limited. (Voucher code: EARLYBIRD25DP)
Great post. Do you have the details of the survey you've run to share?
Testing assumptions is so important. I'm continually amazed at how many people skip this step.