From Entry-Level PM to Kickass PM by Google Director of Product, Gregory Hartrell

How does a new Product Manager become a kickass Product Manager?

The motivating factor behind this question is career advancement.
Most companies consider themselves product-oriented, or first-tier product-oriented.

Product School Study:

Over 73% C-suite respondents describe their companies as “product-led” now.

Many products are likely to fail.

40-75% of products will fail.

9 out of 10 startups fail.

7.5 out of 10venture-backed startups fail.

The main reason is from product-to-market mismatch to poor team dynamics and ineffective marketing.
Regardless of the reason, every successful product comes down to knowing how to bring people together to create a great product and tell everyone about it.

To be an effective manager, you need to consolidate the basic skills.

Going through the product development lifecycle should be second nature to you. You must have enough knowledge to inspire confidence.

  • Execution Excellence

  • Solution Design

  • Organizational Leader

  • Iterative Growth

Areas that stand out, separating the good from the great.

Scaling Mindset

The organization needs to grow and you need to dedicate resources to both the core product and the creation of new features. Knowing how to scale matters because there are many products that create value, have the funding to scale, but lack the product expertise to go into scale mode. They may get stuck repeating what has made them successful so far and may lose sight of what it takes to grow successfully while expanding while continuing to deliver initial value to your customers.

How to build muscle in this area?

Tip 1: Expansive user journeys

Tip 2: GM Mindset

The best way to grow is to find a career experience that will give you the opportunity to become familiar with every function of an existing business and at different stages of the product life cycle.

A varied experience will allow you to be creative in any scenario in the future.
More and more organizations are expanding with their functions like product management.

Product Strategy

The initial product may solve a problem for many people, but there are stubborn competitors in the market. Over time, there may be a list of substitutes that will alienate your users, because. there are many managers who can bring a product to market with excellent initial data. But how you respond and develop the product is what separates the good from the great.

There are 3 general strategies that any product can follow:
- you can compete on price e.g. being the cheapest product differentiation option
- may have unique features or a brand that separates you from the competition
- can focus on intimacy with customers, serving your market segments better than anyone else.

Tip 1: Wargame industry strategies.

Tip 2: Strategy “check-up”

The challenge is to put the academic side of business strategy into practice. This is hard to do, as a good strategy shouldn't change often, so you don't have many realistic chances to practice it.
If there is no position where you can practice change in product strategy, you can practice it yourself. Pick a market you don't operate in, walk through the business model canvas for a business you admire, and do the same for your competitors. Then role play generating options and what you do differently to compete with them. Consider their new positions in which they can grow and share with colleagues for feedback.
If you are in a position to influence your product strategy, host a workshop to test your strategy's assumptions and alternatives. This gives you a chance to engage the leaders of your organization in a discussion about how your current strategy compares to known alternatives in a competitive environment, how to respond. It's also a great team building exercise if you need to be ambitious about something else.

Conflict Management

This is a trait that the most effective product leaders have. Interpersonal conflicts are one of the key reasons why teams and products fail. If you can handle stressful situations and resolve conflicts effectively, you can achieve a lot with your team.

How do you develop conflict management competence?

If 4 behaviors are recommended to be used in practice.

  • Look out for the team

  • Don't let it fester

  • Respectful broker

  • “Human” solution designer

Most conflicts are a function of understanding the personal demands of the stakeholders, often left unspoken because they do not consider their needs in the face of conflict.

Visionary leadership

Changes in step functions stem from the vision of a new future. Being a visionary leader is a next level skill. Great leaders can reach out to groups of people to form large teams around a compelling vision, encouraging everyone to rally around it and make execution plans to realize that larger vision.

Tip 1: Signals>trends>noise

Tip 2: Practice storytelling

By defining a vision, you can take it in a direction that doesn't exist or that doesn't take into account what people really want. Trends alone can be a mirage. Cycles, hype without content, can mislead us. But still, some technical forecasters fail to recognize when something special is in front of us. Therefore, it is better to scan the signal of a real user utility and understand the noise. The combination of reverse data trends + usefulness to real users are stronger signals to help predict the future. They rise above short-lived trends and hype cycles filled with hope. Things that have failed may leave benefits for those who encounter them.

Listen to your materials with a small audience that visits you. Use this to experiment with your stories, get reactions and feedback, and adapt your story to be more effective going forward.

Gregory Hartrell, Google Director of Product