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Forget About The Features, UX and Specs

Kevin J. Hanna
Product Manager | Creator

As a product manager, you are the playmaker. You need to make the right things happen. It’s on you to deliver impact to your company and customers.

Honestly, I haven’t always known how to successfully achieve this, at least not when I first transitioned from a software engineer to a product manager role. Back then, I mostly cared about mock-ups, specs and features.

Oy vavoy, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There were two lessons I had to learn - two fundamental principles that every Product Manager should live by.

Principle 1: Start with the Business Goal in Mind

You are building a product for your customers, and your users. But take a step back. You won’t begin with the features, use cases, the UX or UI.

You should always start with the Business Goal in mind. Whether you are developing a new feature, fixing a bug, re-designing a product or even hosting a meeting, business comes first.

A clear business goal for each one of your initiatives will let you prioritize and get you the necessary buy-in from management. Thus, you will be able to secure resources and get budget allocation to execute your plan.

Challenge everything: How does your initiative drive your business forward? How does it translate into more revenue for your company? How can the company grow because of it? Will your company be increasing earnings, reducing churn, driving product adoption, cutting down costs, expanding your total addressable market? Don’t forget that whatever your Business Goal is, it should be reflecting your company’s KPIs. That’s the only way you can measure impact and keep improving the outcome.

Principle 2: Value, Value, Value

Your Business Goal will only succeed as long as you are taking good care of your customers. Prepare yourself to discover and communicate your initiative’s values: How are you changing your customers’ lives for better? Are you making their business grow and enabling them to bring in more money? Are you helping them sleep better at night? Are you allowing them to be more productive? Now that you have these answers, you can use them to move the needle in your organization.

For that, you will need to craft a compelling story that highlights these values. This will help you rally your internal team to accomplish the tasks at hand that are needed to create the product.

Then, this same message will also support other departments within the organization. It will enable customer-facing teams to drive product adoption, and Marketing & Sales teams to close more deals.

The Recap

Defining the Business Goal and the Values comes first. Easy-to-use UX, a new feature, a bug fix, clear microcopy, a fast response time, to name a few, are great only if they serve your Business Goals and Values. Otherwise, you will be wasting your team’s capacity and momentum without producing real impact.

Though this may seem like common-sense, accounting for your Business Goal and Values won’t naturally come up during your daily job without practice.

By keeping these two principles at top of mind, you will build a framework to be more effective, individually and as an organization. You will be able to prioritize better, gather peer consensus more easily, build stronger roadmaps, enhance product communication and move all teams forward.

As a result, you will consistently deliver lasting impact to both your company and your customers.

Published on February, 2019

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