Archive for the ‘Great Links’ Category

Good Read – Behind Every Great Product – The Role of the Product Manager

September 2, 2013 3 comments

I recently read Behind Every Great Product – The Role of the Product Manager by Martin Cagan of Silicon Valley Product Group. Prakash shared me the link. Thanks Prakash. It is a wonderful read. The article talks about the following

  • Responsibilities of a Product Manager
    • Opportunity Assessment
    • Product Strategy
    • Product Roadmap
    • Defining the Right (Minimum Viable) Product that can be built in the Right Time (Go To Market)
    • Leading the extended Product Team
    • Evangelism (Working with Stakeholders)
  • Characteristics of a Good Product Manager
    • Personal Traits
    • Knowledge
    • Attitude
    • Skills
  • How to find a good Product Manager

I haven’t written anything on my own below, I have just quoted Martin Cagan.

It is a full-time job

The role of product manager as defined here is an all-consuming, full-time job, requiring a dedicated person. If you ask the product marketing person or project manager to cover the product management role, even if the person has the skills and talents required for both, it is unlikely she will have the bandwidth to do both jobs well.

It is an art

The art of product management is to combine a deep understanding of your target customer’s needs and desires with the capabilities of your engineering team and the technologies they have to work with in order to come up with a product definition that is both compelling and achievable

It is collaboration

It is undeniable that at times the product manager will feel additional stress due to the burden of having to persuade her colleagues rather than simply instruct them what she needs done. And it will also slow down the decision process at times. But the best product managers do not want the product team to do things simply because she tells them to – she wants them to do them because they believe in her and they believe in the product.

One important point in building the necessary relationship with the other members of the product team is for the product manager to always keep in mind that she is not the architect, or the project manager, or the engineering manager. She needs to trust that these people will do their job. This is especially difficult for the product manager that has done those jobs in the past, but for a healthy product team, each person needs to be empowered to do their job, and not be micro-managed.

On working with the executives

Executives can be excellent at verifying that a strategy is sound or suggesting interesting ideas, but not necessarily well equipped to set the strategy for a particular product. Executives lack the deep knowledge of the market, competition, technology, customer base and team that is necessary to chart a successful product course.

Good product managers understand that executives can verify that a plan is good, but cannot dictate a good plan.

About Work-Life Balance

Can you have a family and a non-work life and be a good product manager? We believe you can. At least once you have some experience. But there are many people that want to be able to work 40 hours a week and most importantly, leave their work problems at the office when they leave at the end of the day. This unfortunately is not the life of the successful product manager

We believe in being very frank with candidate product managers about the level of effort required for successful product management. But to be perfectly clear, it is not about requiring the product manager to work certain hours – if you have to actually ask or tell the product manager to come in during a critical point you have the wrong person for the job.
It should also be emphasized that the level of effort and commitment is not uniform throughout the lifecycle of the project. There are certain phases that are much more intense than others. What won’t change for the good product manager is the degree to which they care and worry about their product and the lengths they are willing to go to ensure its success.

It is about being a learner with some personality traits

If you are not yet deeply knowledgeable about your target customer and market, you can learn a great deal from doing usability testing on your competitor’s products. You need to be diligent about ensuring that the test subjects do not detect bias in any way, but if you do you’ll see what the strengths and weaknesses truly are. You can also test your product and your competitor’s products side-by-side with well orchestrated usability testing.

It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is that the good product manager obtain this knowledge quickly, and that it must be a deep knowledge and not simply a superficial understanding. That said, we do believe that in most domains and industries, the smart product manager can quickly learn this material.

We have found that domain knowledge is sometimes weighed more heavily by hiring managers than the personal traits discussed above, much to the detriment of the
product. A smart product manager can much more quickly become an expert in a typical domain, than an expert in that domain can develop the skills of a strong
product manager.

Read Behind Every Great Product – The Role of the Product Manager by Martin Cagan of Silicon Valley Product Group.

Organization Chart

July 15, 2013 Leave a comment

I came across a version this on Quora today. Googled for the source and ran into this post.

When the top level guys look down they see only shit; when the bottom level guys look up they see only a**holes. (Apologies for the unparliamentary language, I did not  want to dilute the emotions Smile).


The choice – Like what you do or Do what you like

February 18, 2013 2 comments

I happened to stumble upon Swami Dayananda Saraswathi’s Speech on ‘Choice’. No it is not meta physical / spiritual alone, It is practical advice to a well known problem. I transcribed the talk, so that impatient (I know a few good gentlemen) may skip read it and might listen to the whole talk if some part of the speech strikes a chord with them and pull them in. The talk is ~9 minutes and it is well worth your time in Gold.

We have this choice, Either

  • You like what you do or
  • You do what you like.

We all want to do what do we like. The problem is, it is not easy to do what we like. We find ourselves in situations where you have to do what if you have a choice, you wouldn’t like to do. Everybody’s life is fraught with situations where one is goaded to do (compelled to do) and one does not find a choice.

Even if I do what I like It doesn’t take time for me develop a dislike for it. And naturally so what I do becomes monotonous, what was once challenging is no more challenging because I do it with ease. I have done it so much again and again, it doesn’t give me any challenge, therefore I don’t feel alive when I do things. And much less it does not give me any kind of satisfaction, and therefore I have to give it up and choose something else which I like, and in an affluent society that it is easy perhaps.

But then, it becomes a kind of a so a (may be ‘you become a’ is what he meant to say) person very nomadic in your profession. So you do and you do not like and you move to another place, do something else and again to another place, to another place and another place do something else. So you become professionally also nomadic.

And one thing about a nomad is that a nomad never grows. A nomad cannot grow. And only thing a nomad sees is if anything is difficult he moves to another place. A nomad never grows. He never develops roots and a nomad is always a survivor, a survivor cannot make anything great.

So its very very enticive to think that I have to do what i like. But that’s not the truth in life. Therefore I have only now the other side is open.

If I have to be happy being what I am, only one thing I can do now. What (is that)? Learn to like whatever that you do. Whatever that you do. Whatever it is I should be able to like and that means I have discovered a certain freedom in myself.

You don’t need to grow if you have to do always what you like. But you need to grow you need to have a bigger picture. You have to be a different person if you got to like what you do. To like what I do is to like myself as person. If I like myself as a person, love myself as a person then anything I do I can like. It can be anything. Whatever be the job that I have to do I enjoy doing it because, I enjoy myself being what I am. That means I need to have a bigger picture. A bigger picture of my self,  bigger picture of what I am about do this in this life this world.

That bigger picture is what the Gita gives you. The 4th chapter especially talks about this big picture, which is what we call ‘gnanam’. There is a great praise of knowledge and the chapter itself is called ‘gnana karma sanyasa’. ~ means with knowledge you are free. You are not free from karma, you cannot be. But you can be free even while doing karma. You can be free while doing karma. If you think that you will become free from karma there is no chance. You can be free in doing exactly what you like, that is not possible either. Neither from activity you can be free, nor you are free enough to do only what you like. It is not there in anybody’s life. Even gods have to like what they do. If Indra has a job to do, he better likes it. Otherwise he will be miserable. If Vayu, Varuna and Agni have a job to do they better like what they do, otherwise they will be miserable like many of us.

Therefore one has to discover that that freedom centered on oneself that makes the person enjoy himself / herself and thereby enjoy whatever that one does. Do you have a choice in knowing this now, that you don’t have a choice. You don’t have a choice, you have to know and you will know.

Credits where they are due:


Welcome to Karma Yoga!

People management–A post by Prakash

September 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Prakash has a nice write-up on People Management. But alas it is of no use (viazhalukku iraiththa neer). No manager reads Smile

On Commoditization of labor in Software *Industry*

August 26, 2012 1 comment

In our industry the middlemen – hiring managers, HR people, recruiters, etc. – work extremely hard to commoditize labor. To most recruiters, if you’ve got 5 years of experience with C++, you are the same as anyone else who has five years of experience with C++. Never mind that you are an actual person with unique skills and personal qualities that are hard to encapsulate in a resume.

This can be greatly frustrating at times. Most recruiters out there are non-technical people. They aren’t idiots, but most aren’t passionate about what they do and are generally focused on short term goals. Their job becomes one of matching up acronyms in the job requirements with acronyms on your resume.

The amount of money they make pimping you is unlikely to be much different than the money they would make pimping someone else. Multiply that by hundreds of developers a year and it all averages out. Why bother to cultivate a personal relationship with talent?

Emphasis mine. Nice read.

Categories: Great Links, Opinion Tags: ,

Quotable Quote

August 14, 2012 Leave a comment

“The average human looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking.”
― Leonardo da Vinci


Quotable Quote

August 14, 2012 Leave a comment

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle.  But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” – Marilyn Monroe

A quotable gem–Serenity Prayer

July 31, 2012 Leave a comment

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Memorize it, Frame it, Keep seeing it every hour of the day, Dream it when you sleep.


Found via Swami Paramarthanandaji’s Introduction to Vedanta lectures, via geetham.

Why are software development task estimations regularly off by a factor of 2-3?

July 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Developers are often asked to do something which has never been done before, and tell someone else how long it will take before they even know what actually needs to be done.

A slightly modified quote from a quora answer to the question Why are software development task estimations regularly off by a factor of 2-3?.

The question’s answer wiki is an excellent source of insight and so are a few answers.

Watch your thoughts–Lao Tzu’s words of wisdom

June 24, 2012 Leave a comment