Experiment and learn

If you want to be a bad product manager, never take risks. Be afraid to try anything new until it’s been tried and tested hundreds of times. You’ve gotten this far by sticking with what works, so there’s no reason to change. If your competitors aren’t doing it, then why should you be doing it? When you try new things, there’s a good chance they might not work out, and there’s no benefit to that.

If you want to be a good product manager, experiment and learn. You need to take chances, try out things to see if they work, and get ahead of the market. Even if your experiments do not succeed, you will at least learn something in the process.

I owe the “experiment and learn” tagline to my colleague Rafael Sidi, who embodies this good product management trait and has a post on his blog with the same title. He used it to describe a new feature that has been added to his product. The feature likely wasn’t something that was commonly requested by customers, nor was it something that the competition really offered, but Rafael saw an opportunity to leverage ideas taking hold in other areas. In the best case, it becomes a crucial part of the product and attracts more customers and usage. In the worst case, it is not used to heavily and does not influence purchase habits, but Rafael and his team learn more about what customers need in the process.

Product managers should have a solid understanding of customer needs through qualitative and quantitative research. They should be market-focused and guide their product development strategy towards meeting customer needs and market gaps. This means going out on a limb every once in a while and trying something new. Experiment, observe, and learn from your experiences.