As product managers, we are told to be curious. There are many books, guides, and resources explaining how to create a product management framework that can be used to achieve success. Is it truly one size fits all or different frameworks for different problems? Zoopla Product Head Yanislava Petrova shares the craft and context of PM frameworks and how PMs can create their own.

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On Applying Framework Principles

Yani starts to describe the ways in which product managers can discover and develop frameworks through principles found in books, guides, and other resources. From here, it is all about craft and context.

“My kind of philosophy on frameworks is that you need to learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. It’s something that Picasso said back in the day. In terms of framework, there are two very important things: there’s the craft, and then there’s the context. 

“In terms of craft, it’s really important, especially as you start out, and to keep up to date in the field that you do get the books, that you read all the techniques, that you have various ways in which you can find a vision for your product, assess opportunities, go through discovery, define an MVP. It is important to establish a solid foundation so you really understand how to do product. 

“Then, and probably even more importantly, there is the context. That is the single most important factor that determines, first, what framework to use, and, second, how to adapt it. When I say context, I always think about my days back in the big travel company of 55,000 people that would that was just going through a digital transformation, and something that works really well there would not have worked at all in a health startup environment with a company that’s growing three times its size into two quarters that wants to disrupt how people see healthcare by the end of the year.

“It’s just so important to consider things like the size of your company things like: Are you a publicly listed company or are you about to become public? How is the team set up? What is your industry like? Is your industry risk-averse or are you are your mistakes going to be detrimental? If you optimize e-commerce websites, probably even your worst mistake would still be better than making a mistake in healthcare. All this defines the context in which you work, and the context is king here in terms of what will make you successful.”

On Winning Over Teams With Frameworks

Yanni says while books create good groundwork, it comes down to experimentation and being organic with creating frameworks that work best for you and your product management team.

“This is where it’s quite interesting to apply product management experimentation to your own frameworks, and after having looked at your context, just understand there’s usually a difference between the environment framework book describes and the environment we actually operate in. Framework books assume a certain level of setup that you know that your vision is fixed for at least a certain amount of time that you won’t be pivoting quite frequently, or that you’re set up with a fully staffed team and set up for success. 

“This is where you need to look at what is my environment like and what am I being given here in terms of resources, access to resources, kind of organizational culture? Take that as a basis of experimenting and iterating with frameworks. 

“So don’t start from scratch, don’t forget about everything you’ve read. Use the frameworks you really like that are lean enough for a startup context or robust enough for a context of an industry with a lot of risks. Then don’t be afraid to tweak things from these frameworks that don’t work for you and try to bring your team along in figuring out what might be a better fit for your team.”

On Breaking Into PM Roles

Yanni also shared advice on how to break into product management roles no matter what your background is. Earlier in the conversation, she mentioned it is rare in the UK to see a PM with an engineering degree, so nothing should stop ambitious future PMs from trying.

“Don’t let your background stop you. I’ve seen many great product managers actually not come from an engineering background and make a shift from a different discipline. As long as you have the intellectual curiosity, as long as you have the user-centricity, as long as you are a type of problem solver who wants to impact the world through solving difficult problems, then product is for you. 

“Just speak to the product managers around you to get their advice. … People are happy to support you, so speak to everyone around you and make a move into the field.”

About the speaker
Yanislava Petrova Zoopla, Head of Product Member
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