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Product Management

Growth is never a standalone story. It involves external support and/or management. Guess this is true for Products and people :).

Context

Experiencing the Startup environment

I started off at Pragati Jobs by making Facebook posts. It was a CEO-initiated but self-driven project. The user-first approach helped me hop on to a UX Designer profile and within 6 months the CEO offered me a product management role where he guided me with his 18-year experience in Product management for about 10 months. It was one of the most efficient and effective ways of learning.

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Major Learnings

A product can become only as good as the product manager allows it to be. One need not know everything that a team member does to be a manager. I learnt that the most difficult things a manager needs are the ability to place faith in the team, build and maintain trust and have a calm head.

Understanding the team

As a designer turned Associate PM, I learned that empathy towards the theme greatly contributes to becoming a good manager. Acknowledging team members' motivations and crafting a workflow that benefits the project and individual is one of the many management tasks that only a manager can do

Building a culture

A manager is a very powerful role. It decides the employee experience at a company. It also influences the work-life balance of the team members. No wonder it is a very responsible role both on the human resource end as well as the business growth end. A manager can inhibit or encourage certain activities if not initiate them. This shapes the team culture and consequently has a domino effect on the company culture.

Risk management

While dealing with a growing existing product it is important to initiate experimental approaches without hampering the commitment. It does bring in a risk factor, but managing the risk and nurturing innovation within the team can take the product and the team pretty far in a long run. As a result, the leadership skills and learning helps the PM to better manage people and innovation. 

Transitioning to an APM role

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Role insights

1

Necessity of management

The design workflow seems to be agile by nature. Both of them do not really have an end but just a mere milestone. If it does not work it loops back in an iteration cycle. If it works, it loops back in an enhancement cycle. Scrum model is also possible for design but it is highly subjective to the team culture and business processes & expectations.

2

Embracing failures, distributing success

Any process should help all stakeholders to grow. Processes are not to be enforced or adapted, but to be adopted willingly by stakeholders. Also, the Kanban I conceptualised has been working well for me. This does not mean it should work for all. Moreover, teams have adopted different swimlanes. What is important is to document and communicate the 'WHY' behind every decision. As long as the vision is intact, any modification will help the process evolve constructively.

3

Role of numbers

Graphs and numbers produced as a result of following a process need to be given a constructive narrative. If time and effort is not spent to find constructive insights, soon the feedback sessions are at a risk of becoming blame game which will cascade down to people fearing to follow the process honestly. This is also why I believe the 'WHY' behind the process decision is more important than the process itself.

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