Overview of our topic: Reflection & learnings of a newbie product manager – May 30th

Our presenter this month, Vaughn Harber, from PageUp People started out in Product management a little bit over a year ago, although at the time, his official title wasn’t product manager but Product Analyst.  In that time his learning curve was steep and fast and with another colleague about to step into the role of Product manager, he felt he was finally in a good place to share the things he wished he had known at the start of the journey.  The format of the session allowed some of our more seasoned PM’s to concur or offer additional advice at certain key points of learning, but Vaughn shaped it all around three key themes that would have helped him greatly if he had known these ahead of time.  As his Product Management presentation highlighted, when he started he was completely a blank slate!

Vaughn’s first comment was one of the most enlightening – “Nothing on the position description matches what I do in my day to day job!”.  His three key areas that he could tie all he did do day to day was: Vision, Design and Execution.  The vision area was one of the hardest to understand without guidance or mentoring, so if you are taking a new product manager under your wing, this is definitely one area to take some time on.  Some of the insights Vaughn shared with us that without this it was very hard to ensure his product was delivering.  Comments from the group endorsed this view, and called out that it was a helpful part of the product management role to make this clear, continue to share it so that the Design stage is so much more effective.

Design was a large topic as well, but in terms of the esoteric easier for most to grasp how to get on track with this one.  There are still things you wish you had known before you start out, but unlike the Vision discussion, less time needed to understand what it is before you set about “solving” it.  In this area there was some good input from those more experienced, that this the toughest one for a product manager to embrace.  In other words, to let go of some of the ego or the control freak side, and include and encourage involvement from others to get the best designs and outcome for your product.

So all of these first two stages can be done brilliantly only to see it fall apart at the Execution phase.  A fabulous comment made here was around checking in with the correct audience – in other words, if you have only ever asked similar minded people whether they like this product and then wish to launch to a much wider group – you might find the execution phase a tough one!  Never mistake yourself for the end user:-)

The last of the call-outs were the Do’s and the Don’ts!  Vaughn’s lists were well received and endorsed by the group, unfortunately as we started to add to these, a fire alarm went off and we reconvened to another location.  The scribe at this point lost track of comments here, but the group was in fine form and continued with great enthusiasm at the next venue where we went round the table and got a top piece of advice from everyone.

Another great session of knowledge sharing and experiences, kicked off brilliantly by Vaughn, and hearty contributions from our Prod Anon-ers.

See you on the 20th of June, when Steve Bauer takes us on the topic of Decision making, and don’t forget Product Camp is on the 20th of July, which will mean no dedicated Product Anonymous session.

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