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Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It

Week 1: Problems, Opportunities, and Customers ยท Lesson 2 ยท

Or, rather, should Christian choose to accept it a while ago at Shapeways. But in this lesson, we look at a specific example of a product management challenge in order to understand what a product manager does to address it.

Here's an example of a product management issue

The Challenge: Our customers want faster and cheaper shipping.

This is, remember, from the business side of things. Addresses this need would drive sales which would support the people who work on the product and enable them to refine or make more products. 

Step 1: Talk to Engineering team about implementing faster/check-out shipping options. 

The engineers say they can definitely add more options into the check-out process. It'll take X amount of time, but shouldn't be a problem to program. 

Step 2: Talk to Design team about implementing the different options so that user can see the shipping options, and how they change the price/estimate when they're selected. They're also onboard. 

But nobody at this point actually knows what they're making. That's where the product manager comes in. The product manager decides what actually is going to be built. What kind of shipping options? Which services? How many? 

A product manager thinks of the questions that need to be answered to build out a new product, and then answers them. In doing so, you help define what the product is. 

How do you do this? 

Working With People

In the example so far, Christian's talked to business, engineering, and design teams. Now he loops in marketing to figure out what kinds of shipping options will actually useful for the users and be profitable for the company. He talks to the operations staff at the shipping factory to see what's feasible and what might streamline the process. 

Product managers are editing all the ideas that they receive. The position involves careful listening and strategic thinking on how to transform all the different ideas you hear into the best possible and unified vision of how to go about creating the best possible and coherent product. 

You need to be a pragmatic idealist: taking into consideration time, money, resources, and all the other real-world constraints and make the best possible product inside of them.