Lesson #1: A Design Principle

There is a relatively famous design principle that says users will use something that looks and feels slightly advanced, but not so advanced that nothing about it is familiar to them. For example, in the voice space, users are not comfortable using voice commands in the beginning. Now people are getting it more and say “Hey Google do something”. Users don’t like feeling incompetent when using a product. It is a fine balancing act in creating a product that pushes your user’s comfort zone.

Lesson #2: Evangelize Your Product

Beyond product management, I would say that there are other important lessons and skills I acquired over the years. For instance, building your stakeholder consensus in an organization is one of the big lessons. However, I would say the biggest lesson I learned is that you have to evangelize your product. You want to ensure your marketing, your sales, and all teams are energized and invigorated about your product. So that once you build it and launch, you’ll already have the support to have a smooth landing for your product. Regardless, I learned the hard way that no matter how good an idea or product you have, if you don’t have good consensus internally/externally, it’s hard to achieve success. 

Lesson #3: Get Feedback

The second lesson I would say is that I learned to get feedback from the early stages of your product ideation, initial implementation, and alpha testing. Listen to users and get feedback. When you’re formulating a problem, make sure you have formulated the problem well. You can accomplish this by engaging users, sending surveys, and mapping out the user journey. If you do not formulate the problem accurately, you’ll end up wasting resources and time. 

Lesson #4: Think About Monetization

The last lesson I learned is about monetization. Lots of product managers get caught up with building cool things and launching cool features and products. However, if you are not thinking of monetization, you cannot really become a business leader. So, I think a product manager is like a mini CEO. You own everything about the product, including its monetary success. So if you have not given thought to monetization, then still have a metric of success that you’re tracking for your product. If it’s not direct monetization, then it can be user engagement metrics or something like that. Nonetheless, think about how you will move that metric as your product matures.

About the speaker
Surbhi Kaul Juniper Networks, Head of Product & Senior Director, Contrail Products Member

Surbhi is a graduate from IIT Kanpur and currently works as the product lead for Google Home. She is a seasoned professional with immense product design and strategy experience, in both B2B and B2C. She launched many successful and insightful products over the last decade utilizing AI and machine learning expertise. Her expertise includes product management, design, business planning, technology roadmap definition, and alliances development expertise.

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