Do Product

This week I watched a speech by Marty Cagan in Taiwan: ProductTank #19 Product Is Hard, and gained a lot from it. Here are some selected notes.

Marty Cagan: A partner at Silicon Valley Product Group, former product leader at eBay, Netscape and HP. Author of INSPIRED and just released EMPOWERED.

Delivery and Exploration#

"Exploration" and "delivery" are very different goals and challenges.

When we are working on a product or setting goals for a certain stage, we often use the word "delivery". Delivery means that the product is completed and ready to be used. However, when we first encounter a requirement, we should explore first instead of thinking about what kind of product to deliver.

In Silicon Valley, the approaches to exploration and delivery in different companies are:

  • Google: fake it, make it
  • Facebook: move fast, don't break things
  • Airbnb: build things that don't scale, build things that do scale

Therefore, when doing a product, exploration and delivery should follow a certain order. In the exploration stage, we should gather everyone's efforts to find the most suitable solution, and then deliver the product. This means that in the exploration stage, we should know what product to build, and then gradually improve it in the delivery stage. He mentioned that the "P" in MVP (Minimum Viable Product) should not stand for Product, but for Prototype, because the true product should be achieved during delivery.

Product exploration is also something I love. It is an interesting process, aiming to "create value". Compared to mere execution, it has the joy of exploration and its own will.

4 Risks of Product#

The 4 major risks in building a product are: value, usability, feasibility, and viability.

  • Value: the responsibility of the product manager
  • Usability: the responsibility of the designer
  • Feasibility: the responsibility of the engineer
  • Viability: the responsibility of the product manager

There is also another risk: ethical risk. This means that we often need to ask ourselves: Should I build this product? Product managers also need to evaluate this risk. For example, if we create a mobile product that causes teenagers to spend more than 4 hours on it every day, is this a good thing? We need to be aware of whether the product is good for the users, the company, and society.

Skills Needed for Product Development#

The threshold for becoming a product manager is not high, but it is not easy to excel in the role. He mentioned that an excellent product manager should have the following 4 core abilities:

  • Deep understanding of users and customers
  • Deep understanding of user data
  • Deep understanding of the business
  • Deep understanding of the industry

These 4 abilities are also the necessary skills for product managers at different levels, from junior to senior. Junior product managers need to interview and gain insights from data to understand the real needs of users when working on features and optimizations. On the other hand, senior product managers need to have a deep understanding of the industry, knowing its past and present, and making accurate predictions about the future.

A big challenge in product development is to constantly think about the future. As the slang in ice hockey says, focus on where the puck is going, not where it has been. This means looking at future trends rather than the current situation.

I recommend watching the original video on YouTube: ProductTank #19 Product Is Hard - Marty Cagan
There is also a word-for-word translation article on Medium: 做產品真是哭夭難! — Marty Cagan 演講 70 分鐘中文逐字翻譯

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