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A Summary of

Product Management Mental Models for Everyone

by
Brandon Chu
Black Box Of Product Management
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Various mental models to think about when creating a product as a product manager. Use these models as a checklist rather than a methodology. Experience will help accumulate more models.

Where to Invest Models

  1. Return on investment
    1. For every dollar invested, how much is coming back 
    2. Helps to compare multiple projects and pick one that maximizes impact for customers
  2. Time value of shipping
    1. Product shipped earlier is worth more than products shipped later
    2. Helps to pick projects that can be finished quicker
  3. Time horizon
    1. The right investment decision depends on the time period in mind
    2. Decisions change for next 3 months vs. 3 years
  4. Expected value
    1. Probability-weighted sum of outcomes
    2. Helps understand return on investment

Designing and Scoping Models

  1. Working backwards
    1. Start at a perfect solution and work backwards to get a product
    2. Helps keep focus on the long term
  2. Confidence determines speed vs quality
    1. Speed vs. quality is a tradeoff
    2. More confidence in the product means take time and don’t take shortcuts
    3. Less confidence means move quicker and improve later
  3. Solve the whole customer experience
    1. Understand customers’ needs before and after the product is used
    2. Helps understand the bigger picture of customer needs
  4. Experiment, feature, platform
    1. These 3 features have a tradeoff of speed and quality
    2. Helps understand objectives of product
  5. Feedback loops
    1. Cause and effect in products help iterate
    2. Helps understand negative or positive changes and how to resolve them
  6. Flywheel
    1. Negative and positive feedback loops feeding on themselves
    2. Helps to create a self-sustaining product
  7. Diminishing returns
    1. Over time, efforts will have less impact on a product
    2. Helps understand when it’s time to move onto a new product
  8. Local maxima
    1. Point where improvements don’t create customer value
    2. Helps to understand its time to innovate and not iterate
  9. Version two is a lie
    1. Make the first product a complete product
    2. Helps not plan for a future that might not happen
  10. Freeroll
    1. A situation where there is little to lose and a lot to gain by moving fast
    2. Helps take advantage of a situation based on intuition
  11. Most value is created after version one
    1. Learning happens the most after launch
    2. Helps test hypothesis and iterate a product
  12. Key failure indicator (KFI)
    1. Metrics of failure paired with metrics for success (KPIs) help keep focus on healthy growth
    2. Help keep performance in check
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