I’ve been spending some time working on an entirely new product for the Gurock arm of our testing division. It’s been an exciting process for me, since unlike with an existing product that has its own history, look and feel, user base etc – a new product requires a whole bunch of additional discovery steps to figure out whether there’s even a market for it.
Since I’m still fairly new to the product management role, figuring out how to “do discovery” is a huge opportunity – not only to learn a collection of new skills; but also to put them into practice with both old and new members of our team. One of the most important of whom will be the designer I’m working with to generate ideas for that product, and also to prototype and test them in the market we’ve potentially identified.
Relationship is a key word for me at the moment, particularly with the designer I’m working with – since our joint ability to identify and develop a product will obviously have a large bearing on the success of the entire project. As such, the relationship with that designer needs to be a strong one. Equally across the entire team, of course. Since the product manager role doesn’t endow me with much authority over the team members I’m working with – architects, developers, testers, support and now design – I need strong communication and persuasion skills to influence and chart a course for the products we’re intending to build.
That can be something of a challenge, particularly since we’re all working remotely. Thankfully, it’s a challenge my 10yrs or so of testing, consulting and coaching for and with teams has prepared me for. Though there’s still plenty to learn, I’m enjoying getting stuck in!
- I’m reading Inspired by Marty Cagan, which is helping me to get to grips with what the role actually is, since to some extent it’s a position that’s defined (and is instrumental in defining) by the business in which you’re working. Getting some different perspectives on how the role has evolved over time and in different organisations helps me get some perspective on how I work fits in with a kind of generic view of the role and responsibilities.
- Speaking to other product managers is obviously pretty helpful in this regard also. Thankfully there’s at least one PM community meeting regularly nearby, Product Tank, that means I can get some exposure to other PM’s and bouncing around some ideas.
- Marty Cagan started the Silicon Valley Product Group which has some decent resources also. I’ll be referring to the Product Opportunity Assessment doc this week as we get deeper into our discovery process.
- I stumbled across this site while catching up on some blogs last week. It has some interesting things to say about using Cost of Delay as a primary metric for feature prioritisation.
- Yesterday was a board games day. Amongst other things, I played Imaginarium and The Networks. Both awesome games, but Imaginarium particularly stood out with great euro-style engine building mechanics and wonderful design – and is now winging its way to my own collection.