Job descriptions for product managers often ask for someone "technical enough", but what does this mean?
Establish a baseline of technical understanding & invest more over time
Being "technical enough" involves the following:
1. Trace a user issue back to the underlying problem.
2. Estimate how long it will take to build A vs. B.
3. Anticipate implementation challenges.
4. Brainstorm potential solutions to technical problems.
5. Identify opportunities that arise from new technologies.
Relative importance will vary depending on the product.
Some next steps roughly in order of importance:
Start from a place of curiosity.
Appreciate the creativity in engineering.
Set aside time to pick an engineer's brain.
Synthesize what you've learned into a shareable format.
Use feedback & bug reports to pattern match different issues.
Familiarize yourself with bits of the code base.
Focus on core concepts.
Develop a thick skin.
Build credibility by figuring out how you can add immediate value
Learning new skills take time. Identify how you can make an immediate impact. Here are some possibilities to consider:
1. Dig into the data.
2. Do the blocking & tackling work that keeps trains moving.
3. Lean into your experiences & strengths.
4. Provide a shared framework for decision-making.
5. Take the time to give your team broader context.
The job of a PM includes defining and prioritizing product features, making decisions based on qualitative and quantitative data and working with research teams to test hypotheses.
Adopt a Scientific Mindset
Start with a hypothesis
Create assumptions about the target audience based on information available and selectively target customer
Selectively choose tools that quantify important metrics to measure the hypothesis
Use tools such as Usertesting, Google Analytics, Facebook Ads Manager etc.
Analysis and next steps
Question the legitimacy of the data
Conduct experiments to achieve product-market fit
Product Management is a team sport
You need to:
- Meet with the engineering team to prioritize features and discover challenges
- Meet with the designer to work on UX/UI
- Write product development documents to ensure the product development process is clear to everyone
Prioritize features and experiments that lead to learning
Grasp company strategy, goals and risks
Determine your non-revenue product-market fit metric
Optimize this metric over time by iterating the product
Understand the core value of the product and the problem being solved
Quantify the core value through surveys, interviews etc.
Being a PM requires an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving and a strong sense of strengths, weaknesses and motivations.