The most important product for any product manager

You probably heard this any now and then “How do I know that this person is a good product manager?”.

It’s a simple question with many different answers, some going as long as a short novel.

Here’s my rule you can use to quickly give a thumb up or down:

For any product manager, the most important product she manages is her person.

Like any product you’d judge you look things like:

  • UI – the way she presents herself (dress, walk, talk,…)
  • UX – is there some structure behind her talking, is it going deep enough because she looked at the problem from different angles?
  • Market fit – does she have all the traits a PM should have? If not, do you see the potential to grow the missing ones?
  • Quality & customer satisfaction – what’s her track record? What amazing things you can find in her past? What former colleagues have to say about? What customer have to say about her products?
  • Competition – how does she play with the rest of the product team? Or with other PMs?
  • Roadmap –  what’s her destination? Why is she doing PM now? To get where and why?

You’d be surprised how easy is to get to an answer if you approach a prospective hire from this angle.

Why would you trust the future of your product to someone who’s not able to articulate why she is a PM and where she wants to be 5 years from now?

It is that simple: if the person doesn’t treat herself as the most important product then she is not a great PM. And it is OK; because maybe for your product you don’t need a great PM :)

How to make great products: recover like a boss

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So you want to make a great product? Good, because this is exactly what every customer out there looks and hopes for when he tries your product.

“How to make a good product?” – I sense that it’s on your mind right now. Well, here is something all great products have in common:

A great product always recovers gracefully after a crash.

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Write a lot. Then write some more.

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If you work in the software industry and you wonder what you should improve in order to get better I’d suggest to start with communication, especially written communication*. It doesn’t matter what you do – engineering, product/project management, or marketing – if you don’t invest in communication skills there will be little or no career growth**.

I can sense your first question: “how do you improve?”. Easy – you work on the structure, brevity, and style. But how exactly do you do this?

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One Year @Bitdefender

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Today was my last day at Bitdefender. They say that when visiting faraway places you take something with you back home. But you also leave a piece of you there. I think that the same is true when leaving a company.

For  the past year Bitdefender has been my home, and in terms of product management my very first home. Looking back I think that I couldn’t have chosen wiser: new company, new people, and new products. This setup helped me not only to validate that product management is what I want to do for the foreseeable future but also helped me to grow. A lot.
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The Elastic Effect

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Working in a team to achieve a common goal is something that most of us are looking for and we get lots of energy and purpose out of it. But sometimes things are the other way around. And here comes the elastic effect*: it describes the relative distance between each team’s member. As a general rule more stretched the elastic is, more chances are that there are some problems related to the member-team-goal dynamic.

How does it work? When all members of a team pull in the same direction there is no tension in the elastic. The elastic starts to stretch and becomes thinner and thinner when team members pull in different directions and/or with different intensity.

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About Motivation

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The more I find about what motivates people the less I feel that I understand the topic. And the thing is that when you work in the software industry you kinda have to dig in into this topic. Or at least this is what so many smart people write and talk about when discussing the prerequisite of successful teams and individuals.

Lately, I have the feeling that I understand two things related to this topic: the deeper reasons that motivates us to do something and two silent killers of motivation.

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About Seniors

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If you’ve been in the software business for some time you may have heard things along these lines:
– We need a senior* developer/QA/manager for this project otherwise we are ******
– A senior developer’s output is 4-10 times better than a newbie’s
– We don’t have enough seniors on this team; we need more

So what traits make these people so valuable to teams/managers/organisations? Is it the deep domain knowledge? Is it the professional and life experience? Is it the day in, day out high quality work they perform? Is it the higher productivity?

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Running Products as Restaurants

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We all have to eat in order to live. But it doesn’t mean that the only solution is a restaurant or a particular restaurant. Software products are like restaurants: people may use your product but it doesn’t mean that their are stuck with it; they can go somewhere else to attend for their need.
Let’s forget for a bit about the software and focus on restaurants: why do you choose a particular restaurant? What are the must-have and nice-to-have “features” that make you choosing it? I could argue that for most people these are the things they are looking for when choosing a restaurant: quality of the food, quality of the service, restaurant location, available tables, and ambiance, curiosity or sense of adventure.*

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About Mind the Product conference – London, 2015

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The conference has finished couple of hours ago and I’m at the after party thinking about what I’ve seen during the day and why I have the feeling that I should be joining the conference next year again.

So I figured out that it might be useful to share my thoughts with those who didn’t have a chance to get to this conference so far. Especially as they extend it to San Francisco.

First what is it? It is arguably the biggest conference focused on product management in this part of the world (Europe). This year, there were 1,200 people at the conference. About 300 more compared to the last year. During the two days you get a chance to attend workshops and watch the general sessions (9 sessions). I can not speak about the workshops as I didn’t attend any.

I liked the conference. A lot. But then again liking a conference is like being a fan of a football club or loving salmon clothes: it’s something that it is not that easy to argument at least not in a scientific way. Continue reading