Product Management 101

Product Management is understanding consumer needs, discovering opportunities, kicking off initiatives that drive impact, aligning an organization around the roadmap, and evangelizing the product vision.

Over the last thirty years, much has been written about product management, and it can be difficult for aspiring product managers to know where to start.

It's important to look at the author's background with a critical eye. There are two common problems with the advice you will find on product management:

  • The key learnings are dated or applicable to a specific confluence of business and market factors
  • The writers and personalities on social media are great communicators, but mediocre practitioners

The product management role

It is a Product Manager's job to mitigate risks, which are famously categorized as value, usability, feasibility, and viability risks. Most products and features fail because of an issue easily categorized into one of these risks.

Breaking initiatives down to minimize these risks is key to success as a PM, working closely with designers and engineers during product discovery and delivery.

It's definitely not about product ownership.

Here are some key PM frameworks to understand.

What is product strategy?

There are many product strategy frameworks, but the ones that will work for your company depends on the products and services you offer.

To figure out your product strategy, start by thinking about what delights your customers, how your product is hard to copy, and what business model and price experiments you will explore.

You can also use engagement, growth, and monetization metrics to prioritize your product strategies.

Product Strategy Guide — Templates/Frameworks (2023 Edition)
Developing a winning product strategy is crucial yet complex. This comprehensive guide distills the core frameworks product managers need to craft a strategy that delights customers and dominates the competition. Get ready to level up your strategic thinking.

What is customer discovery?

Customer discovery is a process of learning about a customer segment's real needs and how best to serve them. This is done through interviews, surveys, and other research methods.

What is product discovery?

The goal of product discovery is to reduce the risk of building the wrong product by identifying and validating the problem and the solution before starting development.

Product Discovery Guide — Playbook & Frameworks (2023)
Thinking through the problem space and how to solve the problem is more important than brainstorming solutions. This guide outlines techniques for effective discovery, from understanding users to testing assumptions, so you can build products that truly resonate.
Working Backwards: The Amazon PR/FAQ for Product Innovation
The Amazon PR/FAQ is the key document in the product discovery or working backwards process, used to ensure that all stakeholders have a common understanding of the idea. It is the starting point for all other product documents and mockups.

Evidence-based product management

It is important to ensure that there is a market for the product before investing too much time and money into development.

A great PM collects evidence to quickly answer yes to:

  • Will a significant number of customers buy and use the product
  • Is the product easy to adopt, fit into existing habits, and use on a regular basis
  • Can you deliver on time with the current team
  • Will the product increase the brand's moat and fit into the go-to-market strategy
Product Sense Guide — Methods & Frameworks (2023)
Tools and frameworks for understanding customer needs and how to use that information to improve your product strategy.