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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How to become a good product manager?

Last Sunday, I attended India's first ever Product Mangers Conclave. Interestingly it was organized by PGSEM students in collaboration with industry. Some of the sessions were hard core product management stuffs, future challenges and opportunities. For a person like me who is not a product manager and just looking for various areas to look for after MBA, the sessions on careers and product management were of more interest. Here is a personal excerpt from some of the sessions I attended.

Let's start with Who is a Product Manager? The one thing I kept of hearing was Product Managers are the CEOs of their products. The more catchy part was Product Managers have a better chance of becoming the actual CEOs :) Wikipedia defines product manager is the one who investigates, selects, develops, products for an organization, performing the activity of product management.

A person that usually focuses on inbound planning activities to increase a product's perceived value to the customer.
Is Product Manager same as a Project Manager? NO...A Project Manager manages a set of projects. He/She mostly works on managing product development activities.
Whereas a Product Manager manages a set of projects related to product strategy, business model, planning, and other activities throughout the Product Life Cycle. But to an extent, product manager role depends much upon the organization, its size and the industry sector.

What are the roles in the Product Management career path. This link provide a good view on the various levels - http://ask.goodproductmanager.com/2008/08/18/what-is-the-best-product-manager-career-path/

How can one become a good product manager? Some of the tips I heard through out the sessions in the conclave were:

1) Understand the requirements & needs of the customers out there; interpret them and productize the idea. Still customer is @ the center!

2) Thorough market research. Make strategic moves. There may be many problems out there to solve. We should select the right problem that the product manager's team is capable of solving. Facts should rule over intuition

3) Customers are the key to a product manager. However make sure a single customer doesn't rule you

4) Enabling the Sales team, getting their respect at the same time making sure they understand the capabilities and limitations of the product is the KEY. A product manager needs to play the role of an orchestrator for the stakeholders, rather than just another stakeholder

5) Have the courage to say NO irrespective whether it is the key customer or the development lead! (really?)

6) Learn to prioritize and adapt. At the same time no compromise on quality even if you are working for the best brand in the industry! (that is why yours is the best brand :) )

7) Product Manager is the one who have no reportees , even then have to manage everyone in the product team, so learn that skill!

8) Execute like a CEO (Product Manager is the CEO of his/her product)

Some of the success mantras of best product managers:

1) Give the due importance to 4Ps (I have personally witnessed how much time one of the best teams spend time in just picking the right name!)
2) Time the product launch

3) Balance the requirements & features in each version (its not just prioritizing, its the judicious decisions based on facts and domain experience)

4) Always measure how the product is doing (Unbiased and rigorous)

5) Product Managers are the Value Managers!

Below is a good video on how to excel in product marketing and product management career, a panel discussion @ Stanford Graduate School of Business.

ps: The excerpt is based on my understanding of the session. It may or may not be what the speaker intended to. Also I am only a aspiring product manager :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

123 Business & Management Resources

Here is a compilation of links to 123 useful business and management resources. Please feel free to add in the comments any missing resources that you think will be beneficial for all.


001. Harvard Business Review Blog
002. Harvard Business School Working Knowledge
003. MIT Sloan Review
004. Knowledge@Wharton
005. India Knowledge@Wharton
006. Mckinsey Quartely
007. Management Skills Blog
008. Businessblog360
009. The Funnelholic
010. The  Personal MBA
011. Alt-MBA
012. Quick MBA
013. TNMG4U
014. Free Management Library
015. Cranky Middle Managers
016. HBR Email Newsletters
017. Sun Tzu's Art of War
018. Business Balls
019. Billy Cox Blog
020. Mind Tools
021. Software Insider's View
022. BNET - The CBS Interactive Business Netowrk
023. CEO Lessons from the Cricket Field
024. Computer Business Reviw
025. Inside MBA
026. Value Based Management
027. MBA Club - India
028. Net MBA
029. India Business Blog
030. Business Gyan
031. Service Co-Creation
032. Business Intelligence Resources
033. Managing the Digital Enterprise
034. California Management Review
035. Management Internet Library
036. The Knowledge management Center


037. Vijay Govindarajan's Blog on Strategy & Innovation
038. Sramana Mitra on Strategy
039. IT Strategy Blog
040. Consumer Product Strategy blog from Forrester
041. Strategy + Business 
042. Strategic Management Society
043. Blog on Change & Strategic Management
044. M&A Daily
045. Economic Strategy Institute


046. The Leadership Hub
047. The Practice of Leadership
048. Motivation Live 

Time Management

049. 43 Folders


050. Sales Journal
051. The Selling Sherpa
052. The Rainmaker Maker
053. The Growth Guy
054. Idea Sellers
055. Heavy Hitter's Sales Blog
056.  Garth's World - Life of a Sales Guy
057. Sales Blogcast
058. SOCOM Sales
059. Sales Tips - SalesMarks
060. Sales & Sales Management Blog
061. Inside Sales Experts Blog
062. Selling Power
063. Championship Sales


064. HR Magazine
065. CiteHR
066. HR.com
067. HR Guide
068. Human Metrics
069. HR Links - Nottingham Business School


070. Vitamin Integrated Marketing Communications Program
071. Influential Marketing Blog
072. Euromonitor Podcasts
073. Unconventional Marketing Blog
074. Marketing Practice
075. Business Analyst Times
076. Brand Channel
077. Know This
078. Direct Marketing News
079. Clickz
080. FMS Marketing Club's Blog (Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi, India)
081. IIM Shillong's Marketing Magazine


082. Negotiation Tip of the Week
083. Business Negotiation Made Easy


084. Prof. Jayanth R. Varma's Financial Markets Blog (IIMA Professor)
085. Financial Edge
086. Financial Management Training Center
087. Niveshak - IIM Shillong Finance Magazine
088. CiteFin
089. Barkley's Comprehensive Financial Glossary
090. Numa Financial Web
091. Wachowicz's Web World  WEB SITES FOR FINANCE STUDENTS
092. Currency boards & Dollararization
093. Digital Dashboard from WSJ

Product Management

094. Product Management Pulse
095. Ask A Good Product Manager
096. How To Be A Good Product Manager
097. The Accidental Product Manager
098. The Cranky Product Manager
099. Product Management Insights
100. Launch Clinic
101. All About Product Management 
102. Software Product Manager
103. On Product Management

Project Management

104. PM Student
105. PM Podcasts
106. PM 411
107. Cutting's Edge Project Management
108. The Project Management Hut
109. Gantt Head
110. Project Reference


111. Startup Nation
112. Your Story - Where Entrepreneurs connect
113. HBS -  Entrepreneurship Resources
114. NEN Online
115. Pluggdin
116. Kauffman - The foundation of Entrepreneurship
117. Stanford University's  Entrepreneurship Resources
118. 1000 Ventures
119. Zero Million
120. http://www.entrepreneurship.org/
121. International  Entrepreneurship
122. StartUp Blog
123. MIT Enterprise Forum

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quarter 2 begins...

Literally, quarter 2 started with a bang with a professor sending more than 50% of the class out of the class second day itself. ;)

This quarter we have again three subjects - Organization Theory, Business Statistics and Macroeconomics. One professor is really old, one very tech savvy and the last one young & a US return :)

I think macroeconomics will be interesting - at least I can better understand the newspaper articles on GDP, inflation & RBI actions :)

A side effect that I can expect this quarter is more usage of open source tools especially spreadsheets and statistical packages, though I have Excel 2007 with me :) Our Professor is a an open source enthusiast!

This month is going to be again very busy with parents visiting, a conclave coming next week and a major B School festival in the end. I wish to participate in some events in Vista....lets see.

By the way, I won an election unanimously :p I will be the coordinator for Branding and Communications Cell (BnCC).

Friday, September 3, 2010

India Product Managers Conclave

With the growing importance of Product Management in the Indian industry context, IIMB invites you to the India’s first ‘Product Managers' Conclave, 2010’. The event aims to leverage the vantage position of IIMB to pitch fork the aspirations of the industry to realizable heights. The event would help Product Managers and Product Marketing managers to discuss, debate, network and work together for common goal of excellence in their fields.


IIMB invites all the stake holders of product management to be a part of the conclave and enrich the event.

Visit www.iimb-pmconclave.com for more information and agenda.

India Product Managers Conclave

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Book Summary : The Mckinsey Way by Ethan M. Rasiel

I believe this is one of the titles, most of the B School students will read. Also, a plethora of summaries, abstracts, tips from this book are already available in the internet. Still here is my notes from the book:

Caution : Don't expect you will think like a Mckinsey Consultant, just by reading this book! I believe no learning will be equal to actually being a Mckinsey Consultant :)

The Mckinsey Way written by Ethan M. Rasiel provides a good insight about the company, its consulting processes, some of the frameworks, life of consultants and tips for aspiring consultants. 

McKinsey & Company was founded in Chicago in 1926 by James O. ("Mac") McKinsey, an accounting professor at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, who pioneered budgeting as a management tool.

The three pillars of building a solution @ Mckinsey are:

1. Fact Based
2. Rigidly Structural
3. Hypothesis Driven

The Firm promotes clarity of thought and expression. Every document has to follow the MECE rule: mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive.

The consultants try to solve a problem to the highest possible extend at the first meeting itself: Creating an Initial Hypothesis(IH).

To structure your IH, begin by breaking the problem into its components - the KEY Drivers. Next make an actionable recommendation regarding each driver. Later breakdown each topline recommendation into Benefits & Issues.

The above exercise will lead to an issue/solution trace. For testing the IH, recheck all the IH of team members; check for other possibilities.

-> Understanding the 'right' problem is the key.
-> Don't reinvent the wheel. Every problem will be similar to another; but at the same time unique.
-> Don't make facts fit into your solution
-> Make sure the solution fits for your client. ( A wonderful business solution is useless if the company lacks the resources to follow the advice.)
-> Sometimes problems may be unsolvable (suggest alternatives)

Ethan later talks about various rules that can be applied/checked for problem solving like:

- 80/20 Rule
- Don't boil the Ocean (Smarter analysis)
- Find the KEY DRIVERS (that affect your business)
- The Elevator Test (You should be able to explain your solution in 30 seconds)
- Seize every small opportunities while solving a problem (these will boost the morale and your credibility among the clients)
- Always think of the big picture
- Learn to say "I don't know"
- Don't accept "I have no idea" (Challenge it irrespective of whether it comes from others or from you yourself!)

The second part of the book talks on 'The Mckinsey way of working to solve problems" i.e how Mckinsey implements the model in a day to day basis by going through a real life like case.

Ethan argues that the right way to sell a service or a product is not to barge into your customer with samples and glossy pictures of benefits; but to be there at the right time and make sure the right people know who you are. Mckinsey never sells or advertises, it markets by very valuable insights and publications.

Set definite milestones which you can achieve. Don't give false impressions.

Later he talks about how important teams are in Mckinsey. The success of team is in forming the rightly skilled members. Also he talks about how teams are kept in harmony. However these seemed to be just general gyaan on team building :)

An interesting advice is "The first rule of success in a hierarchy is: make your boss look good. To please your boss, do your job well. Keep your boss informed, but not overloaded with information."

Later, Ethan talks about how a consultant takes the interviews with the clients. Prepare well with checklist before the interview and start the interview with general easier ones before moving to specific and sensitive ones. 7 tips for successful interviews:

  • Have interviewee's boss set up the meeting
  • interview in team/pairs
  • listen carefully
  • pharaphrase - analyze a subject's answers thoroughly
  • use indirect approach to get to a topic
  • don't have long interviews
  • use columbo tactic

All work done, but without presenting it well, there is no use!

The final parts of the book talks about how to survive @ Mckinsey and Life after Mckinsey...

A good read indeed!