What kind if people are highly successful product managers?

The article What Product VPs At High-Growth Startups Have In Common illustrates what high-profile product managers are like. Interesting to read in case you want to copy some of their behaviour 😉

  1. Senior product leaders at high-growth companies have paid their dues.
  2. Engineering backgrounds are optional.
  3. Product leaders at high-growth startups are pretty darn smart.
  4. These product leaders may be ‘CEO of Product,’ but most have never been a CEO.
  5. Rich Mironov was right – not everybody cares about hiring someone with executive-level product management experience.
  6. And *sigh*, yes – most of these product leaders are men.

A girl’s guide to product management

The phrase “Women in tech” is nonsense. It simply does not matter whether someone is female or male. We all work on great products.

However, men and women sometimes behave differently. A seasoned female product manager speaks about her keys to success:

  • Find and use quantifiable metrics
  • Be demanding and vocal
  • Embrace your fear
  • Find a mentor

The speech in included as a video.


Why do products fail? (Root Causes)

Probably, more products fail than not. This is not only due to lacking information, but also because of personal bias. Marty Cagan held a nice presentation which is also available as text. He points out many of the product failure reasons that are based on human irrational behaviour, and I mostly agree with him. This is a reminder for all of us to reflect our judgement from time to time.

Designing for explicit choice

User Experience design often is about human psychology. When designing forms which have users make a choice, keep in mind that different form designs may result in different user behaviour. Users are generally lazy: When there is a checkbox, people usually just leave it as it is (checked or unchecked). When using two radio buttons instead, people are forced to make a decision. Depending of what your goal is, choose the form design wisely.

Colleen Roller has the full article.

Extra tip: Do not only offer choices, but list consequences right away.

Mental Models

Mental Models are one of the most important concepts when it comes to the user experience. The term has been coined (as far as I know) by Don Norman, and his colleague Jakob Nielsen explains them in this post.

A mental model is an idea of how a product works internally. Problems arise when the user has a different model in mind than the one actually implemented. Possibly the users expects another result than he receives, or he does not understand how to use the product in the first place.

Jakob Nielsen suggest two options is mental models differ from each other:

  • Make the system conform
  • Improve users’ mental models

It is impossible to summarise all the details, but I highly recommend the article by Jakob Nielsen, which explains it nicely and provides some examples.

Predicting users’ intentions

Predict human behaviour! Users do not alway act rational. They type and speak unprecise and still complain when the software does exactly what they asked for.

Good software predicts the intentions of the user and asks for confirmation, should there be room for misunderstanding. Apple’s Siri is a good example, as shown by Little Big Details. Around midnight, it is unclear what “Tomorrow” means, so Siri asks the user for confirmation.