What’s going on? While working on datacenter networking automation for PayPal this past year, I noticed how much more effective some development teams are when they have a good product manager and that piqued my curiosity. I realized I always spend a good amount of time asking why the work is done before doing it and this is one of the characteristics of a product manager.
Last week, I joined a Bootcamp on Product Management at General Assembly. My goal in joining this Bootcamp is to dive into the subject and understand how product management brings value to the team. Along the way, I hope to acquire some skills to help me be more effective at my job.
In this article, I’m going to list the reading recommendation for the first week of the bootcamp and write a reading summary:
Here is the list of articles:
- Good PM/Bad PM by Ben Horowitz and David Weiden (3.5 stars)
- What’s Your Problem (Parts 1 and 2 only) by Matt Lavoie ( 5 stars!)
- The Five Components of a Good Hypothesis by Teresa Torres (4 stars)
- A Product Manager’s Job by Josh Elman (3 stars)
- Product Management vs. Product Marketing by Marty Cagan (4.5 stars)
- Product Management vs. Project Management by Marty Cagan (3 stars)
- When You’re Innovating, Resist Looking for Solutions by the Harvard Business Review (haven’t read yet)
Good PM/Bad PM by Ben Horowitz and David Weiden – 3.5 stars
Good article that does a good job at densely describing what a good product manager does, and cautions about what a bad product manager does as well.Highlights of a Good PDM:
Clearly defines requirements. The definition is based on research, information and a logical transparent process. This definition empowers engineering to fill the technical gaps, rather than pushing a vision downwards, it builds it’s vision gathering information informally from engineering.
Knows what it takes to make it’s product successful and it defines that in writing.
Doesn’t rest until product vision is consistent across all teams.
What’s Your Problem (Parts 1 and 2 only) by Matt Lavoie – 5 stars
Incredible article that focuses on explaining why defining a problem statement is crucial for the success of an endeavor rather than jumping into solutions as we Engineers usually do. I like that it’s a fun read, yet concise and effective in pushing its point across. Highlights:
With a problem statement, there is no feature creep. There’s a problem and a measurable outcome.
If we believe something will get to that outcome and we can create an experiment to prove it, we should work on it.
By not taking a moment to identify the problem, your implementation won’t be as successful as it could be.
Outcome-driven teams, know when they are successful by utilizing measurement with our output to know that we reached our desired outcome.
The Five Components of a Good Hypothesis by Teresa Torres – 4 stars
Solid reading that describes why one should define good hypothesis for it’s work to be effective. I actually like the format that she criticizes in a later article: How to Improve Your Experiment Design (And Build Trust in Your Product Experiments). Which is the Lean Startup format:
We believe [this capability]
Will result in [this outcome]
We will have confidence to proceed when [we see these measurable signals]
I like it better because its action driven. I can see that depending on the problem her hypothesis template would be more accurate, but the Lean Startup one is lean, it only has the essential to get you moving.
A Product Manager’s Job by Josh Elman – 3 stars
Good read, but unimpressive honestly. It just expands on his vision of the PDM’s job: “Help your team (and company) ship the right product to your users”. Which is true. I think it still needs insights on how this can be achieved for this information to be relevant to me
Product Management vs. Product Marketing by Marty Cagan – 4.5 stars
Great read, and it describes what the author think should be the two complementary roles needed to launch a product. The author states that often the two roles are assigned to the same person even though people usually are focuses in one aspect or the other and that often creates a gap.
Product Management vs. Project Management by Marty Cagan (5/10)
Good read but unimpressive.
This is all for now folks, I’m excited and I’ll try to write a blog post weekly about this new experience.