Sunday, September 27, 2020

Building Products for India's Context

 ISPMA Post:

In the book- 'Disrupt Yourself’, there is an interesting story of how 'Intuit Fasal', an agriculture solution created for Indian Farmers came to life.

One of Intuit's product team was given a mandate to change the life of 1.2 billion Indians. As the team started chatting with farmers, they figured out that farmers had a challenge of access to information. Due to this, farmers were selling their produce to farm market (mandi) owners at whatever price that was quoted.

The team started small and adopted a low cost, highly iterative approach by manually seeking the prices and texting it to the farmers on their mobile. They eventually came with up an easy-to-use, text message-based platform that uses complex matching algorithms to help the farmers get the best prices.

This story tells us that to win in local Indian market, one needs to accurately define the problem, embrace constraints, use #MVP approach to test the solution.

Here, in this video, Parag Patankar suggests compelling thoughts to build India focused products. Two of the ideas:
1. Exposure to the market
2. Formal ecosystem for the talent pool

How are you contributing to India's product aspirations as a product managers ?

Time Management for Product Managers

 ISPMA Post:

Mark Twain once said "If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long."

So "Frog" here is really a metaphor for the task you find ugly but it needs to be done.

Brain Tracy's book- Eat that Frog based on this metaphor suggest 2 ageless rules for time management:
#1 If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugly one first.
#2 If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesnít pay to sit and look at it for very long.

Time Management is important for all the professionals, more so for Product Managers because of a dynamic role and a wide span of interaction that spans all the key business functions.

Hari Babu Krishnan, Senior Product Manager, SAP Ariba has an interesting take on time management where he applies the 80:20 principle as follows

1. Spend 20% of the time to reflect back as a team.
2. Use the remaining 80% of the time for course correction and creating the right product.

Check-out this short (92 second) video.

How do you effectively manage time as a product manager?

Distinguishing Traits of a Product Manager

 ISPMA LinkedIn Post:

One of the early seminal work around the #productmanagers skills was an essay by Ben Horowitz, and it was titled- "Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager". (Can be read at:

A lot of the aspects around PM skills that Ben shared are still applicable today like:

Good product managers:
- know the market, the product, the product line and the competition extremely well
- don't get all of their time sucked up by the various organizations that must work together to deliver right product right time.
- create leveragable collateral, FAQs, presentations, white papers.
- think about the story they want written by the press.
- err on the side of clarity vs. explaining the obvious.

While the fundamentals around PM job haven't changed much but with a lot of advancements happening in technology, business models and overall business landscape, the new skills have emerged.

In this video, Lokesha Channaveeraiah from Shell shares his perspectives on the personality traits needed by the PMs-

1. Good listening skills.
2. Excellent business acumen.
3. Transparency.
4. Collaboration and teamwork.

What do you think are some of the important traits for a Product Manager ? Please share.

Most Challenging Aspects of Product Management

 ISPMA post:

In the book "The One Thing", the authors narrate a story about Steve Jobs, excerpt below:

"No one knew how to go small better than Steve Jobs. He was famously as proud of the products he didn't pursue as he was of the transformative products Apple created. In the two years after his return in 1999, he took the company from 350 products to ten. That's 340 nos, not counting anything else during that period.”

In the product school of that Jobs represented, Innovation was all about saying 'No' often and always be in the edit mode till something desirable, viable and feasible emerged. So, courage to say 'No' is certainly one of the challenges that Product Managers face.

What is the most challenging aspect of Product Management, according to you ?

Here from Harvinder Singh Narula

1. Draw a Clear Product Strategy
2. Understand "Whom", "Why", "What", "How: part of your product.
3. Prioritizing your plans. Determine where you want to start.

Please share your thoughts.

Critical Success Factors for a SaaS Product

I have been volunteering with ISPMA for a while now. Among the things i work with awesome team at ISPMA on, are the weekly product management posts. These gets posted at the ISPMA LinkedIn channel. I enjoy writing these and been grateful for the opportunity to be able to do so.

I will be resharing some of these posts in my channel here:

ISPMA post:

Susan Wojcicki (CEO) and Cristos Goodrow (VP Engineering) in the book 'Measure What Matters' share an interesting anecdote-

By 2011, YouTube's way of measuring success needed some work. Employees had created different versions of the OKRs but the top-level objectives weren't as crystal clear. A lot of thinking then was influenced bythe model prevalent with the Google search i.e. measuring clicks and views.

It took some time for YouTube leadership to realize that clicks and views aren't as effective measures for videos as is the watch time. As Satya Nadella once said- "the true scarce commdity is increasingly is human attention."

Given the legacy (Google Search), it took time for Susan and Cristos to drive this change but eventully they convinced everyone and embarked upon multi-year goal of 'Reach 1 billion hours of watch time per day by..."

Applicable generically, and more specifically for SaaS products, how we articulate and measure success is paramount ?

What you do think are the critical success factors of a SaaS product ?

From B2B enterprise software angle we have Sindhu Gangadharan, MD & SVP, SAP Labs talking about the critical success factors of a SaaS product:

1. Customer acquisition & retention cost

2. Time taken to customer value

3. Building the required agility 

4. Leveraging the technology 

What are your views?

Friday, September 25, 2020

My Podcast on Innovation and Intrapreneurship

 Source (of below content):

Highly motivated morning walk or insightful evening drive back home from your office, just plug in your headphones & listen to this interesting ISPMA India Podcast interview with Anuj Magazine on "Innovation & Intrapreneurship" in Product management hosted by Sireesha Gangavarapu

Anuj shares his experiences & proven practices in managing innovation in large scale organisations. He also brings in great insights on the intrapreneurship & how to achieve the desired outcomes overcoming the constraints.

Hope you enjoy!

Subscribe to our ISPMA India Youtube channel for more product management insights.

#productmanagement #innovationmanagement #innovationstrategy #strategicmanagement #intrapreneurship #productmanagers #techstartup #softwareproduct #softwarecompanies #software #it #podcast



It's a bonanza time for Cricket fans as the Indian Premier League commenced last week. It is a welcome change as people can now track a real sporting scorecard rather than the ongoing pandemic analytics.

One of the closest & strangest games happened between KXIP & DC. Closest, as the game went into a rare super-over. Strangest, as KXIP couldn't close the game with 1 run needed off last 3 balls & the match's top scorer at crease. DC team showed a tremendous survival skills to be back from a certain defeat to emerge victorious.

Like in sports, low points are a commonplace in life too. Is there a playbook that exists that can help us deal with low points the way team DC did ?

Not really a playbook, but i quite liked the thoughts shared by one of the most affable sharks & entrepreneur Mark Cuban in a feature
Catch the summary of key ideas in my sketchnote. I do want to quote the article:

“(Cuban was good at) tech,selling, working longer hours than everybody else but more importantly, “I was even better at enjoying what I was doing,” he said. “I just kept on reminding myself to enjoy.”

Quite profoundly, learning to enjoy your struggles is so fundamental to finding the exit path sooner.

What you do think ?


My LinkedIn post:


Last week, Dominic Thiem won the US Open Tennis Grand Slam. He has been an incredible player, reached 3 grand slam finals before finally hitting the gold this time. Nothing to take away from his incredible achievement but this time he was helped by the absence of usual champions- Federer, Nadal and the freak omission of Djokovic during the tournament.

In business, the term “tailwinds” describes a situation or condition that will move growth/revenues/profits higher and “headwinds” are the opposite of the tailwinds.

Thiem's case was certainly that of riding the tailwinds with the key players missing. It does take a different level of situational awareness to sniff the tailwinds and the opportunity it brings in & then demonstrate the will to ride with them.

Recently, Nvidia acquired ARM for $40 billion. In 2016, both had market cap of ~ $30bn. Now Nvidia is at $300bn & ARM acquired for $40bn! Nvidia rode the tailwinds of rise of ML, self-driving cars, gaming where GPUs became a critical piece. Both Nvidia and ARM had same opportunity but Nvidia showed skill to ride the wave.

Call it situational awareness or sniffing an opportunity, these stories probably unleash hidden lesson for us professionals.

What are your takeaways ? 


My LinkedIn post:


Frederick Brooks in his book 'The Mythical Man-Month' talks about a concept that is now famously known as Brooks Law- "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." Brooks law defies the tendency to add more people to the project in order to contain the schedule.

On the similar lines, 'The Ringelmann effect' is the tendency for individual members of a group to become increasingly less productive as the size of their group increases. This effect, discovered by French agricultural engineer Maximilien Ringelmann illustrates the inverse relationship that exists between the size of a group and the magnitude of group members’ individual contribution to the completion of a task. This is similar to the concept known as social loafing

Though big teams aren't always avoidable, small teams tend to return more value to the project and the business, as the above references illustrates.

While the theory around small teams is compelling, are there really some real business benefits around working in small teams ?

Apparently yes, and that's what Steve Pulec 's article highlights which i have tried to represent via a sketchnote.

What are your views on small teams by big teams debate ?


My LinkedIn Post:


 I recently read James Clear's book- Atomic Habits.

An atomic habit is a regular practice or routine that is not only small & easy to do but is also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth. It is one of the very few books where I ended up highlighting along almost every other page, based on some highly actionable insights.

One such insight:
“Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”

In my worldview, this book has ideas that are applicable to all the professions, but I highlight Product Management in this note, purely inspired by Shreyas Doshi tweet: (included my sketchnote summary)

Tactics to improve your product:

1. Talk to customers
2. Use the product
3. Understand competition
4. Browse support tickets
5. Shadow a sales call
6. Specify adoption metrics
7. Write a user story
8. List top user annoyances
9. Read website like a novice
10. Go through the New User Experience

What Shreyas called to as tactics, I see them through the lens of atomic habits, something (if followed) would eventually lead to exponential growth for products and also as PMs.

What do you think ? What else would you add to the above list ?

#product #productmanagement