Product Management Starter Kit - Deepstash

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Product Management Starter Kit

Collection of stellar videos and articles to keep in your back pocket.

Producing better products

When good engineers suffer from lousy management, they may do all this exciting stuff that makes sense on a micro level, but on a macro level, they make no sense. As a result, these things often get thrown out.

Focusing is not about saying yes to every great idea. Focusing is about saying no. The result of that type of focus is some really great products where the total is greater than the sum of the parts.

Steve Jobs

People think focus means saying yes to the thing youโ€™ve got to focus on. But thatโ€™s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. Iโ€™m actually as proud of the things we havenโ€™t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying โ€˜noโ€™ to 1,000 things.


Habituation prevents us from noticing problems

We get used to everyday things. One of the most basic ways humans learn is by a process called habituation. Our brain encodes the daily things we do into habits so we can free up space to learn new things.ย 

Habituations is not always bad. Take learning to drive. At first, all your nervous attention is focused on the wheel, the cars, the lights, the pedestrians. but with time, it becomes easier and easier. You habituated it.

Other times, habituation isn't good. It stops us from noticing the problems around us or fixing them.

Designers learn to notice the world

The job of designers, innovators and entrepreneurs are to notice the bad things humans get used to and go one step further to fix them.

It's easy to solve a problem that everyone sees. But it's hard to solve a problem almost no one sees. A product designer sees the world the way it really is, not the way we think it is.

Resisting habituation

There are invisible problems all around us, ones we can solve if we can just notice them.

Tips to fight habituation:

  • Look broader.ย When you're tackling a problem, there are often many steps that lead up to the problem. When you step back, you can change some of the stages before you get to a problem, combine them, or even remove them.
  • Look closer. When we focus on the little details we may otherwise not notice, ask, "Are they important, or is it the way we've always done it?" Maybe there's a better way.
  • Think younger. Young minds often ask tons of questions and then attempt to solve them.

A good manager is the CEO of the product

A good manager is the CEO of the product

Good managers know the market, the product line, the competition and possess knowledge and confidence. They take full responsibility and measure themselves in terms of the product's success.

But bad product managers always want to be told what to do. They focus on excuses - not enough funding, badmouthing the engineering manager, not having enough direction.

PMs manage the "what"

Good product managers don't allow their time to be consumed by the various organisations that must work together to deliver the right product on time. They are not part of the product team; they manage them. They accurately define the "what" and manage the delivery of the "what."

Bad managers get stuck in the "how".

Good PMs lead responsibly

Good product managers create leverageable collateral, FAQs, presentations, white papers. They anticipate serious product flaws and build real solutions. They write down their position on important issues.

Bad product managers complain that they are overburdened with answering questions for the sales force. They put out fires all day and voice their opinion verbally on important issues.

The product managers first month

The product managers first month

How a new product manager approaches their first month in a company will determine their success.

In the first month, product managers should focus on these three areas:

  • People
  • Product
  • Personal


  • Set clear expectations with the CEO or manager. Your main goal in the first month is to effectively join a team.
  • Schedule a one-on-one with everyone on the team. This may take a few hours or the whole first month.
  • Ask everyone, "What can I do to make your life easier?" You'll show that you're here to help, not to command.
  • Take a load off their back. Take from them something that is cutting into their productivity.


  • Schedule time with your lead engineer to walk you through the product's technical architecture. Ask questions about things that are unclear.
  • Hold back a bit on changing things. Your ideas and thoughts will be better formed after you had a chance to settle in.
  • Get in front of your users. Spend more time with your users in the beginning. Go on sales calls and customer visits. Engage on forums and Twitter.
  • Fix something. Fix a bug or launch a small feature on your own.

Skill Set vs. Subject Matter

Skill Set vs. Subject Matter

Product management is often at the intersection of user experience, technology and business. The skills required for a designer, developer, and business leader are very different from those needed to create alignment between designers, developers, and business leaders.

While UX, tech, and business are areas of subject matter knowledge that are relevant to some product managers, they are not the skills needed to be a great product manager.ย 

Communication skills

Product managers must be able to communicate between customers and stakeholders. A great product manager can listen openly and empathetically to customer needs, align those needs with the company's goals, and articulate a plan to internal stakeholders.

Great product managers enjoy the challenge of alignment and understanding between different roles and perspectives. Since they seldom have direct authority, they have the skills to manage through influence.

Organization skills

Product managers must organize their teams to work together. Where communication skills are about managing one-on-one interactions, organization is about scaling and operationalizing these interactions.

Not all people that are great individual communicators are great organizers. When product managers lack organization skills, they often become bottlenecks for their team.

Be a Great Product Leader

Be a Great Product Leader




The product leader

The job description of a product manager is often either vague or over specific, making it ineffective in helping people become great product managers.

Done right, a product leader acts as a force multiplier that can help a cross-functional team do their best work.

Product strategy

The product manager's task is to articulate two simple things:

  • What game are we playing?
  • How do we keep score?

This will empower contributors with talents in engineering, operations, quality, design and marketing to move in the same direction.

Defining what game you are playing includes:

  • Your vision for the product.
  • The value for the customer.
  • Your differentiated advantage over competitors.


When the team knows what game they are playing and how to keep score, prioritization becomes much easier.

The product manager should ensure that the initial work on the strategy and metrics is carried through to the phasing of projects/features to work on.ย Phasing is crucial as most products and companies have many great ideas but struggle to know which ones are critical to executing first.

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