The Golden Circle: A Simple Model to Build Impactful Products

In this talk, Akram Hassan discusses the role of a PM and the ways in which a PM can drive impact using a simple approach. He also explains the key competencies of a Product Manager and how to make a big impact on the product while avoiding major pitfalls.

Akram Hassan

Akram Hassan has been building platforms for the past 14+ years at EMC, Microsoft and now Uber, passionately working on 1.0 products from vision to delivery. He is a computer scientist at heart with great interest in cloud computing, distributed systems, IoT, and ubiquitous computing. Currently, Akram enjoys building Uber’s cutting edge Workflow Automation Platform. Prior to that, he worked on the v1 of Windows Azure and led EMC object storage platform. 

Steps to Greatness in Product Management

Akram begins by explaining that when vision, strategy, and roadmap are combined with execution, then it leads to impact.

Vision Strategy Roadmap + Execution = Impact
Akram explains that when vision, strategy, and roadmap are combined with execution, then it leads to impact.

Where to start: a simple approach

Why What How graphic

1. The Why

  • Define the problem
    • What are we trying to solve, and why?
    • Is the problem worth solving?
  • Who’s the Customer
    • Who are we serving, and what value are we bringing?
    • Define the customer and then be in the shoes of your customer.

Tip: The customers will always tell you what they need right now, but shouldn’t be telling you what is the right solution.

  • Validate assumptions
    • Don’t just take whatever vision or mission leadership has defined.
    • You need to validate assumptions.

Tip: Don’t take assumptions for granted, you need to validate and assess before you  dive in.

  • Gather insights
    • Gather insights about your customers, market and opportunities.

Tip: Every organization is different but in today’s world data is key to building your hypothesis.

desk space

2. The What

  • Begin with the end in mind
    • Start with a picture of where you want the product to be in the long term and then work backwards.
  • Forward looking
    • It needs to be a multi-year plan that is forward looking.

Tip: Always ask yourself what the end game is here.

  • Be ambitious
    • It needs to be ambitious enough to be something to look for. 

Tip: Don’t limit yourself with the tech or constraints of today. Think without constraints.

  • Grounded in reality
    • Be grounded in real customer needs.

Tip: Think of customer needs as a collection of pain relievers and gain creators.

  • Define success
    • Define what success looks like at the end.

Tip: Make sure you have measurable KPIs that can measure success.

pointing to map

3. The How

  • Build the story
    • Stories make it easy to understand and grasp by everyone so build an end to end story
  • Define the big bets
    • Start with the big bets that will make a big impact on your roadmap.

Tip: Think what will move the needle for your strategy and ultimately your roadmap.

  • Build it bottoms up and top down
    • Depend on your team to come up with ideas and align them with your strategy.

Tip: Utilize the collective energy of your team, excite them with your vision and they will amaze you.

  • Take small steps
    • Be specific in the short term but less in the long term.

Tip: Plan and deliver in increments rather than deliver everything in one shot, giving you time to improvise.

sticky notes

A Few Words of Advice

  • Communicate up, down and across
    • Leadership alignment
    • Excite the team
    • Align with the rest of the org
  • The wrong customer
    • Especially in the enterprise space a lot of times the product gets sold to the wrong customer.
    • Avoid special features that don’t align with the product vision and strategy. Say No.
  • Engineering debit
    • Doing too much won’t let you go anywhere
    • Doing too little will hinder the product growth and scale
  • Dependencies
    • Scrutinize every dependency you take and make sure it aligns well with the vision and strategy.
    • It is better off not to take any dependency in the early stages
  • Use the force
    • Every organization has a key competency
    • Know it and use it

Akram concludes by advising to always listen to one’s inner voice, and telling that there is no one else defining what the product will do, or where it is heading. You are it!

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