I now know why many call Marty Cagan’s masterpiece the Product Management Bible. In my opinion, it’s a great book for anyone who has an idea and wants to understand an effective way to bring it to fruition.
I bought my copy after it came up in almost every virtual coffee chat I had and every “Must Read” list for PMs. True to every piece of advice I received, Inspired taught me what it means to be a good Product Manager and how best to work with the team of individuals — from Product leaders to Product team members — to deliver value to the user.
Beyond understanding the ideals of Product Management, I also learnt the following 5 key points:
Focus on the value you drive with your features and not the specific features you ship
Marty drives this point home with constant examples of how building teams who actively participate in the problem discovery & solution ideation, with a focus on outcome, will outperform teams who do as they are told & fight to deliver output. It’s all about value to the customer & the business NOT about the number/type of features that are delivered within a specific timeframe.
A product succeeds because everyone did what they should. A product fails because the PM did not do what they were supposed to.
This is something I’ve read in multiple books, blogs and articles. If the idea fails, it likely isn’t addressing a problem properly and if that’s the case, it’s because the product manager did not successfully comprehend the user’s problem. Keep in mind, we’re all human and we make mistakes, however, it’s a commendable skill to admit those mistakes and actively improve.
The distinction between leadership & management. Leaders drive the vision & Management focuses on execution
In discussing how to empower a product team to deliver on a vision & execute a strategy, Marty adds a key point in differentiating between leadership & management. To many leaders across organizations this may seem obvious, however, it’s a point of learning for those aspiring to reach that level one day. It is a learning curve one must go through as a Product Manager — starting as an executor and slowly growing to develop the vision.
Product Discovery has to address 4 key risks: value, usability, feasibility & business
Understanding the company goals & product vision is key in being able to identify the order in which these 4 risks need to be addressed for the problem at hand. This ties back very closely with the first point: driving value for the user/business.
Customer Misbehaviour can be a great learning tool
As a PM still growing my skillsets, this was an interesting new approach to me. The idea is as follows: during testing just let your customers use the product without much interference. You can learn a great deal about a problem and the usability of your solution from a customer “misusing” it. I’m excited to try this out during sessions with my users and see the slew of solvable problems I uncover just by letting the customers “misuse” the product.
Anyone interested in problem solving should read it
Overall, it is a must read for anyone in this profession but also a great recommendation for those looking for a refreshing approach to understanding the “Why?” behind how product teams select features to implement. That was me a few years ago as a product developer and this is a great lesson for me as a product manager.
Reference: Inspired (2017) Marty Cagan (Get it here)