I’ve been a Generalist PM and a Platform PM for four amazing years, and let me tell you, it’s been a rollercoaster ride filled with ups, downs, and valuable lessons. Buckle up as I take you on a journey through my experiences, challenges, and lessons!
This role demands versatility, adaptability, and a customer-centric mindset. I’ve learned to collaborate, stay data-driven, and build strong relationships with stakeholders. Continuous learning and some risk-taking skills are your secret weapons on this spaceship.
🚀 Lesson 1: Get what being a specific PM really means
First things first, you’ve got to grasp what type of PM you are or aspire to be and what it really means. There are many different types of product managers, each with their own unique set of responsibilities.
Being a platform PM is all about creating and maintaining a product that acts as the foundation for other products or services within the company. However, as a growth PM, you’re more focused on growing the user base of a product.
Based on a survey of PMs conducted by ProductPlan in 2022, generalist PMs are the most common type, followed by technical PMs, data PMs, growth PMs, and platform PMs.
🚀 Lesson 2: Customers are everything
Listen up, my fellow PMs; customers are our lifeline! Prioritizing their needs and pain points is the secret sauce to success. Constantly gathering feedback and understanding what makes them tick, is indispensable. By doing so, one can make their platform a seamless and delightful experience for all user segments.
One way to do this is to constantly gather feedback from customers. This feedback can come from surveys, interviews, user testing, and social media. Once you have this feedback, you need to take the time to understand what it means. What are the customers’ biggest problems? What are their biggest pain points? What are they looking for in a product?
🚀 Lesson 3: Teamwork makes the dream work
When PMs work together, they can achieve amazing things. By collaborating with engineers, marketers, sales reps, and designers, PMs can create products that meet the needs of users and achieve business goals.
Here are some tips to create a culture of teamwork:
- Be clear about your goals. What do you want to achieve with your product? Once you know your goals, you can communicate them to your team and get everyone on the same page.
- Encourage collaboration. Create opportunities for team members to work together. This could involve brainstorming sessions, hackathons, or simply informal discussions.
- Celebrate successes. When your team achieves a goal, take the time to celebrate. This will help to build morale and encourage team members to continue working together.
🚀 Lesson 4: Walk the tightrope: Innovation vs. stability
Ah, the eternal struggle — innovation versus stability. We crave innovation to keep our platform ahead, but reliability and stability are crucial for our customers and other product teams to trust us. Finding the perfect balance is the key.
It’s a tricky balance to strike, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The right approach will vary depending on the specific product, the target audience, and the competitive landscape.
However, there are a few general principles that can help you find the right balance between innovation and stability.
- Start with a clear understanding of your users’ needs.
- Do your research. Before you start developing any new features, take the time to research the competition.
- Release new features gradually. Release new features gradually and test them carefully before you roll them out to all of your users. This will help you to minimize the risk of introducing any major bugs or stability issues.
- Be transparent with your users. Let your users know when you’re planning to release new features.
🚀 Lesson 5: The power of data-driven decisions
Data is the new gold. It’s the lifeblood of any successful product, and it’s the driving force behind everything a PM does. By crunching numbers and analyzing trends, PMs can make informed decisions that push their products for success.
For example, let’s say you’re a PM for a social media platform. You might use data to track things like user engagement, growth, and retention. This data could help you identify areas where the platform is lacking, and it could also help you identify opportunities for improvement.
You could also use data to make decisions about new features. For example, if you see that users are spending more time on a certain type of content, you might decide to develop new features that support that type of content.
🚀 Lesson 6: risk-taker or risk-taker?
So, you want to be a PM? Well, let me tell you something: There’s no such thing as a risk-free decision. Whether you’re launching a new feature, changing the pricing model, or pivoting the entire product, there’s always the potential for things to go wrong.
But that doesn’t mean you should shy away from taking risks. In fact, taking calculated risks is essential for PMs who want to create successful products. By learning to identify, assess, and tackle risks head-on, one can become more resilient and fearless in one's decision-making.
So, how do you become a better risk-taker? Here are my two cents:
- Do your research. The more you know about the risks involved in a decision, the better equipped you’ll be to make a sound decision.
- Talk to the experts. Get input from people who have experience with the risks you’re facing.
- Create a contingency plan. What will you do if things don’t go according to plan? Having a backup plan will help you stay calm and focused in the event of a setback.
- Be prepared to fail. No one is perfect, and even the best-laid plans can go awry. If you’re not prepared to fail, you’re less likely to take risks in the first place.
- It’s important to be able to distinguish between calculated risks and reckless risks. Calculated risks are those that have been carefully considered and weighed against the potential rewards. Reckless risks are those that are taken without any thought for the consequences.
🚀 Lesson 7: Learning never ends
Embracing the learning journey is vital. Growth is a mindset! New technologies, new trends, and new customer needs are emerging all the time. That means that PMs need to be constantly learning and growing in order to stay ahead of the curve.
I’ve found that the best way to learn is to embrace the learning journey. This means being open to new experiences, being willing to fail, and being constantly curious. It also means being proactive about seeking out opportunities to learn.
The important thing is to find a learning style that works for you and stick with it. Learning never stops, so it’s important to make it a habit.
Rock on, fellow and aspiring PMs! 🚀