Being a good product manager

I wrote this a week before starting a new job as a Product Manager at Lyft. Every new job is an opportunity to do things better. This is a reminder to myself on what it means to be a good product manager. It boils down to three main things:

1. Product Strategy: Bring clarity to what your team is working towards, how and why

As a PM, your key responsibility is to layout and communicate the game your team is playing, how we should keep score, and the strategy and path to winning.

What success looks like: All members of your team and the exec team can articulate, defend and feel confident and excited about what your team is doing and why.

Key deliverables: Team mission and vision, key metrics, goals and OKRs over different timeframes, roadmap over different timeframes, current metric values and dashboards, user feedback/insights/journey, project or feature specs.

You can do this well by:
  • Deeply understanding users, market, competitors, business, current product performance and concerns 
  • Collaborating closely with stakeholders to jointly come up with the mission, metrics, goals, ideas, roadmaps, and specs. 
  • Developing a clear understanding and measures of what success looks like. 
  • Simplifying and prioritizing a few goals, themes, and projects. 
  • Frequently consolidating, documenting and sharing to drive towards an actionable plan.
  • Sharing a succinct, clear and inspiring what and why with stakeholders often to drive clarity, alignment, and excitement. 
  • Maintaining a rolling 4 quarter roadmap 

2. Product Execution: Turn plans into reality and results

What success looks like: Your team is making measurable and visible progress, your team and stakeholders are aware of what's happening across functions and continue to be excited.

Key deliverables: Project plans and updates, specs and user stories, establishing a process and check-in meetings, facilitate x-functional collaboration.

You can do this well by:
  • Working backward from outcomes and launch date, and collaboratively come up with practical project plans. Think broadly across different product aspects - engineering, UX, go to market, legal, analytics, trust and safety etc. 
  • Focusing on a few things and doing them well. Deliver in small, complete and testable chunks
  • Getting regular feedback from real users
  • Having recurring planning hygiene where you set clear milestones, set ownership, track tasks and look back
  • Investing in tools, process and technical infrastructure to keep your team's velocity high.
  • Repeatedly asking yourself what can be done to double the impact and half the effort/complexity. 
  • Retrospecting regularly with the team on the process - what's going well and what isn't. Don't try to change too many things too quickly unless things are really not working. 
  • Understanding and improving how your team is approaching the problem; ask the right questions to pressure test and improve solutions, spot gaps and inconsistencies. 
  • Being organized and consistent - maintain project plans and documents, follow up on things and remind others too. 
  • Protecting yourself and the team from distractions. 
  • Checking in 1:1 with team members to share updates and how things are going. 
  • Celebrating wins as a team and take breaks. 
  • Sharing regular updates, resolve any misunderstandings or open questions quickly. 

3. Leadership: Keep the team happy, motivated, and empowered. 

What success looks like: Team members want to continue staying on the team, actively engage in team discussions and events, and build close, long-term relationships.

Key deliverables: Inclusive and collaborative culture and processes, effective team retrospectives, fun traditions, regular team bonding events and offsites, jokes and light-heartedness, daily greetings and bright smiles.

You can do this well by: 
  • Being optimistic, cheerful and jovial. 
  • Genuinely caring for and respecting everyone on the team
  • Helping the team and every one succeed
  • Getting to know people beyond just their job
  • Being transparent, thoughtful, and high integrity person. 
  • Putting team and company success before personal success. 
  • Actively soliciting and acting on everyone's feedback and opinions
  • Recognizing, appreciating and rewarding ideas and efforts. 
  • Helping out and being supportive when someone's having a hard time. 
  • Focusing everyone's effort on meaningful and thoughtful work. 

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