Product managers make the most crucial decisions in any tech company today. As product managers, we have to avoid orthodoxy and choose the right mix of tools and methodologies for our unique situations. We have entered an era where large-scale change improves how teams build products — software, in particular. These changes have a deep impact on tech companies.
This era will be defined by the augmentation of intelligence and experience in computers. Similar to the Industrial Revolution, a period of major industrialization is taking place right now. Product management is evolving from an art to a science. The best products of the next several years will be driven by data based on direct user feedback — but it takes time and the right tools to drive this meaningful change.
The most successful products share the same initial attribute: a goal-driven product vision supported by customer conversations. Too many products are born without a goal in mind; without knowing where you want to go, you cannot expect to get there. Great product managers know the value of delivering features that delight users. Better ideas lead to innovation, and innovation leads to market leadership. But the first step in successful ideation is to understand how innovative your product truly is. As product management becomes a more tightly defined role within organizations, more solutions will allow product managers to collect product ideas from colleagues and customers alike. Innovation is about iteration.
It is my opinion that product managers should take a step back from the requirements process and look at the system as a whole — all the way through from the customer problem you are trying to solve, to asking which brand positioning your company has or is developing, and which story you would like your customers to hear and say. Then, work backwards to build that kind of product. If you work with a dynamic team, it’s important that you have one place to manage and view all things related to your product. This enables cross-functional teams to collaborate in real time. It also allows product nuances to be shared beyond the product team — which empowers anyone in the organization to consistently describe a particular product. Building a great product is a collaborative process that works best if everyone is on the same page.
It is not easy to build lovable products. But with a goal-first approach, deep customer connections, and a rigorous way to tie features to business value, it can be achieved. This approach will help product managers accelerate innovation — and define the future of product management.