How to Make Product Decisions
Nitin T. Bhat is a Senior Director of Product Management at Smartsheet. His current role is chief advisor to the Chief Product Officer. He is responsible for driving overall product strategy and direction, identifying new generation technologies, M&A, key customer relationships. He has led teams to ship industry-leading B2B/B2C products during his previous stints at Microsoft Azure, Amazon.com, AWS & Intel. He’s a board member at Eagle10Ventures and advisor to a promising venture. Adjunct lecturer at the University of Washington (UW) and Product School.
He recently spoke at a Products That Count hosted webinar and discussed making decisions as a product manager. This talk was a deep dive into the art of decision making, covered how to use frameworks to make those decisions and how to lead with conviction.
Nitin T. Bhat talked at length about how to make product decisions. The entire recording of the webinar is worth a watch, but you can also check out the highlights below:
Why is it important to understand how to make product decisions?
There are three key points that answer the question:
- Your product is decisions.
- These decisions make your product.
- You are making countless decisions every day as a PM and leader.
So, what are product decisions?
Before we continue into how to make product decisions, let’s define what is a product decision.
Decisions that involve setting the vision of your product, merger and acquisition strategy, execution, the economic impact of pricing and many more.
Remember, a good decision doesn’t guarantee success. However, a bad decision taken at a critical time is a recipe for failure and often irreversible.
There are two types of product decisions.
Type 1 is Irreversible Decisions
- Consequential type and one-way doors
- If you walk through and don’t like it, you cannot go back to the previous position
- Ideally should be made with a lot of deliberation and consultation
Type 2 is Reversible Decisions
- Ost decisions are reversible
- Two-way doors
- Ideally should be made by high judgment individuals or small groups
Make Product Decisions with the Build, Measure, Learn Framework
- BUILD or conduct an experiment to test your assumptions.
- MEASURE the results of your experiment against your initial hypothesis.
- LEARN how to best proceed.
- Adapt to uncertainty. You will never have perfect information.
Make Product Decisions using the Go vs. No Go Framework
Needs: a void or gap in what the customer would like to be able to do, and what they are able to do. The “pain.”
Features: a product specification or specific function that allows a customer to accomplish certain tasks. The “what.”
Benefits: what a product or feature makes possible for the customer. The piece that satisfies a customer need. The “value proposition.”
Principles: define a set of guiding principles or core tenets.
Operating model: the process of decision making is as important as the decision outcome.
Accountability: being clear with who is responsible, accountable, consulted vs. informed helps a lot.
Porter’s Five Forces
This is an analysis to assess a market or the industry.
- Market is defined as a specific industry that sells similar products
- Porter’s analysis is used to access market attractiveness both for new entrants and existing companies.
- The stronger the five forces are, the less attractive is the industry.
- During increased competition, companies need more than usual resources to survive, which ultimately leads to less attractiveness.
Bhat also shared about SWOT analysis, which can be seen in the video above!