How to Build a Strong Product Sense
+ Last date to apply for pmcurve Product Growth course
I recently conducted a session on how to build a strong sense. It was a 2-hour long session with ~60 slides covering various aspects of product sense. Sharing the key takeaways in this newsletter along with video and slides.
Before we move forward, I wanted to make a quick announcement. Today is the last date to apply for pmcurve Product Growth course, relevant for existing PMs and Founders. This would be the last live cohort that I am planning to do around product growth this year. So if you were considering this, now would be the time to act. Here is the course page from where you can apply. Here are the raving reviews of the course from 1st cohort.
Here is the recorded session from today around product sense.
You can find the slides used in the session here.
Here are the key takeaways from the session:
Product sense is the ability to make right decisions about which changes would bring most value to users. It is usually a two-step process:
Identify problems and their significance
Design the right solution for them
If I had to pick an Amazon leadership principle to explain product sense, it would be ‘leaders are right a lot’. This is something which is counterintuitive to majority of PMs because they believe customer obsession = product sense.
Product sense is hard to master because rules, formulas and principles simply will not work. The forces that determine the outcome are constantly shifting when it comes to building products. Things keep changing everyday in the product world, and what worked yesterday won’t work today.
Product sense is also known as product thinking, product judgement, product design. It is essential for PMs to learn because 100% of product interviews test product sense.
Product sense can be applied to everything in life. I applied it to write a book and design a live course. Check the video and slides for details.
When we deconstruct what’s needed to build strong product sense, we come up with 6 skills
To identify problems and their significance, we need (step 1)
Understanding current industry and business models
Frameworks to identify/frame problems
To come up with solutions (step 2), we need
Understanding the tools to solve the problem (Growth, Tech, Design)
Range of knowledge to find analogies from similar problems others have solved
Creativity to get original solutions
Some of the myths surrounding product sense are
You are born with product sense — The myth exists because an experienced leader with deep Product judgment can often look at something and know what to do, but find it hard to explain.
Product sense is an Art, not Science — To understand how much of it is true, we have to look at the 6 skills of product sense listed above in point no 6. When we analyse that, we realise that barring creativity, everything else is an attainable skills.
People with strong product sense can solve any product problem — Product sense is domain-dependent. Be careful in applying what you know. Cover all of the above before taking the product decisions. Avoid yesterday’s advice – industry, customers, etc. change and so does someone’s product sense in building a particular product
How to build product sense (detailed explanation is available in the video and slides, this section is too detailed/nuanced to cover in summary)
Talking to customers directly
Segmentation of users to map needs and preferences
Porter 5 forces and competitive strategy
Frame the problem from a user’s point of view
Tools to design a solution in tech
Product case studies from the past/present
Using other products and understanding why they work
Start by understanding creativity origins
Simulate and do premortems
Learn more about creativity
Hope this whole session helps you in polishing your product sense. Drop any questions you may have in the comment section.
Have a good weekend,