The Product Management collection

Stuff that never grows old

Dag Olav Norem
4 min readJul 18, 2014

“When you start looking at a problem and it seems really simple, you don’t really understand the complexity of the problem. Then you get into the problem, and you see that it is really complicated, and you come up with all these convoluted solutions. That’s sort of the middle, and that’s where most people stop… But the really great person will keep on going and find the key, the underlying principle of the problem — and come up with an elegant, really beautiful solution that works.” — Steve Jobs

Be a Great Product Leader

Adam Nash, CEO @ Wealthront (and former VP PM @ LinkedIn)

Responsibility #1: Product Strategy

  • What game are we playing?
  • How do we keep score?

Responsibility #2: Prioritization

  • Next three things to nail

Responsibility #3: Execution

  • Product specification
  • Edge case decisions
  • Project management
  • Analytics

A New Skill Model for Product Managers

Matt LeMay

“The skills required to be a designer, a developer, or a business leader are very different from the skills required to create alignment between designers, developers, and business leaders.”

“UX, tech, and business are areas of subject matter knowledge that might be relevant to some product managers, but they are not the actual skills required to be a great product manager.”

“A product manager must be able to communicate between customers and stakeholders, organize the product team for successful collaboration, and manage the execution work necessary to build and deliver great products.”

How to hire a product manager

Ken Norton, Google Ventures (and former Group PM @ Google)

“Remember buddy, nobody asked you to show up”

  1. Hire all the smart people
  2. Strong technical background
  3. “Spidey-sense” product instincts and creativity
  4. Leadership that’s earned
  5. Ability to channel multiple points-of-view
  6. Give me someone who’s shipped something

12 things product managers should do in their first 30 days at a new company

Ken Norton, Google Ventures (and former Group PM @ Google)

  1. Set clear expectations with the CEO or your manager
  2. Schedule a one-on-one with everyone on the team
  3. Ask everyone “What can I do to make your life easier?”
  4. Take a load off their back
  5. Schedule time with your lead engineer to walk through the product’s technical architecture, in deep detail
  6. Resist the urge to jump in and start changing things
  7. Get in front of your users
  8. Fix something
  9. Read everything, and write it if it isn’t already written
  10. Set some personal goals
  11. Configure your life support systems
  12. Have fun!

Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager

Ben Horowitz, a16z (and former Director of PM @ Netscape)

“A good product manager is the CEO of the product. Good product managers take full responsibility and measure themselves in terms of the success of the product. They are responsible for right product/right time and all that entails. A good product manager knows the context going in (the company, our revenue funding, competition, etc.), and they take responsibility for devising and executing a winning plan (no excuses).”

The first secret of design is … noticing

Tony Fadell, CEO Nest Labs

“As human beings, we get used to “the way things are” really fast. But for designers, the way things are is an opportunity … Could things be better?”

Designing the whole

Cap Watkins, VP Design @ Buzzfeed

“A year later you have a navigational menu as long as your arm. Single-purpose pages. Multiple overlays on a single page. Five CTAs on a single screen. In short, you have a mess. Totally by accident. As designers, it’s our job to recognize when our products are being built additively, to step back from that single feature we’re designing and ask how it fits into the overall vision and structure of the system. To design the whole instead of the part.”

Focus is about saying no

Steve Jobs

“The hardest thing is, when you think about focusing, you think focusing is saying yes. No, focusing is about saying no. Focusing is about saying no. “You’ve got to say no, no no and when you say no you piss off people and they go talk to the San Jose Mercury and they write a shitty article about you. […] Focus is about saying no. And the result of that focus is going to be some really great products. Where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts.”

The process that is the magic

Steve Jobs

“There’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows. It never comes out like it starts because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it. And you also find there are tremendous tradeoffs that you have to make. […] Designing a product is keeping five thousand things in your brain and fitting them all together in new and different ways to get what you want. And every day you discover something new that is a new problem or a new opportunity to fit these things together a little differently. And it’s that process that is the magic.”