So you've got your eye on Product Management, defined in the first post of this introductory series, but you don't yet have the Product Management title or responsibility. What else can you do to build up that experience? Build Something!
- Be a Product Manager (duh)
- Build something
- Be internal
- Be an expert
Once you're confident that the problem you're solving is one that would pique the interest of other people, begin to formulate a vision of what your potential offering might look like, and bring your offering to life, one small step at a time.
As one example, I'm going to share some early links of Mystery Gift Machine below. For the first time, I'm publicly documenting the progression of the online present-giving service that I built in 2012.
I built the first versions quickly, and they were hideous and embarrassing. Like Eric Ries says in his classic entrepreneurship book, "The Lean Startup," the way to build a successful startup is to Learn, Build, and Measure. I'm building on that here by emphasizing the importance of iteration, recognizing that small tweaks can often provide outsize returns after you bring an initial solution to market.
If you follow these steps and "Build Something" -- whether it's software, a community group, or a non-profit organization -- you'll refine many of the same skills you'll need as a product leader:
- Defining the problem you are solving
- Coming up with a list of possible solutions that you could potentially deliver
- Understanding what would be most effective to the most people
- Prioritizing your roadmap
- Working with different technologies/ people / groups to bring your solution to life
Until next time, follow @AdamStober
Mystery Gift Machine Release History
Version 2, Weebly WYSIWYG design, Wufoo for forms, pre-cut HTML code snippets for Facebook plugin, launchrock for lead generation, processed over $1,000 in gift shipments. With release of V3, V2 moved off of custom URL to live archive at http://mysterygiftmachine.weebly.com/about.html
Version 3, Heroku/Python/Git as infrastructure for potential scaling, Facebook app to automate birthday marketing, Themeforest CSS template to introduce responsive (mobile-friendly) design, mailchimp for email marketing, promo video to attract press in Boston.com, TechCocktail, and BostInno. Overwritten by Version 4.