Friday, July 21, 2017

Upgrade yourself: Be a By-product manager!

Most PMs I interview for my org, I make it a point to ask them, how do they interact with the customers/end-users. What do they ask in order to assess their own ideas, or identify what user's want. Most of the good ones will answer it around identifying the problem of their users/customers.

Thinking about the problems is VERY important. In fact, it is better than thinking about solutions. But this post is about taking the entire thinking one level up.

What is the by-product of your solution? 

What impact is your solution having on the consumer base. I am sure it is helping them solve a specific problem but what else? Baking soda was originally advertised as a baking agent. Over time, customers started using it as a cleaner and deodorizer. To take another example, Whatsapp was able to help people text, talk, share pics, videos all in one window. But that was the intention. Whatsapp enabled millions of virtual communities to be born and grow. I am part of at least 5 communities related to startups and product management. Maybe I knew just one member of the community who added me and then so on, all communities are buzzing with superlative discussions and everyone is able to help everyone out. LinkedIn as a product is targeting to do such a thing, but it's happening over Whatsapp and Slack, un-intentionally. The best part of whatsapp is its reach. Slack is still limited to Organisation and Tech-savvy folks.

Your product might bring people together, save time, educate them - think what people are able to do with all this extra empowerment (network, time, knowledge etc.).

 - Ecommerce apps like Flipkart let people gift and donate stuff that they were finding hard to buy and ship.

 - IRCTC, Ola, MMT enables me to help my parents, living remotely, have a safe trip whenever they want to. I can mostly track them during their travel.

 - Dunzo is helping you attend the friend's wedding because the parcel will be picked from the station and delivered to destination without your sweat.

 - Bigbasket is saving you the fuel that you would have burnt in finding parking to be able to buy some tomatoes.

Manage the By-products too... 

You can clearly see that some by-products are really strong while some are weak and can be built upon. That's where the By-product manager comes in. You can identify the upshots of your product and build upon them.
  1. Identify the upshots(by-products) of your product
    • What exactly are users using it for?
    • What else are they using it for? Or What is it enabling them to do?
    • Other than solving the problem, what are their needs and wants 
    • How has it impacted their lives outside of solving their problem. 
  2. Explore the new problem scope - new use cases
    • Do you see a new feature, product? 
    • Is there an opportunity to help them, or take their experience to new level? 
    • Is there an opportunity to sell?
  3. You may either solve for it, or just leverage it for marketing better

Your product is creating new problems to solve.
New problems are new opportunities. If you are not tapping this, someone else will. And that's why it is extremely important to think outside the current problem scope and think about the upshot for your product.

What's the upshot of your product going to be?  

[Video of my talk at Upstart on this topic] [Slide deck]

If you have reached this far you should totally leave a comment about how you liked it and share this post with others.  

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