🔱 #3 - PMs as Aligners, The Gates Factor & Color Trends
Plus survey results from last newsletter - it's not a problem, or is it?
Hello fellow learners!
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Our central theme this week is on understanding how PMs can add value beyond the basic problem definition and solution coordination. I’ve akin’d the role of product managers as gap fitters or enablers in the past (which may conflict with our last weeks question of “Proof of Worth” tasks).
The key place where PMs play a significant role is in alignment. They get everyone on the same page — whether it is a conflicting language (business refers to decision engine as a personalization engine, whereas solution team uses personalization engine to mean the actual engine), or disconnected notions of a solution — PMs play a foundational role in alignment.
I’ve used this graphic in the past (3 Quick lessons for PM) to convey how we’re facilitators:
But it goes beyond just connecting people — information need not flow through you, but if there is a gap, you can enter as an aligner. Most of the time, the argument will be moot, stemming from incorrect understanding of the end-goal/vision.
So, this week, I want you to monitor the communication paths where there is a discord and see how you can help align the ends to the bigger goal.
If you face any challenges there, feel free to reply to this mail or drop a comment and I’ll be happy to help you out!
Last week, I’d ask you what percentage of time do you spend in ‘Proof of worth’ tasks:
The results here are interesting: Either it’s not a problem or it’s a problem. Ideally, you should not be responsible for any ‘Proof of Worth’ tasks. If you’re in the Blue region (most of the time), you need to ask yourself — are there any opportunities in the product growth you’re missing out on? If yes, you should have a serious discussion with your leads.
The Bill Gates Line
I was reading Ben Thompsons take on Shopify’s growth (if you’re not subscribed to that, then, please do — it’s a mountain of information that’ll make you a better product manager) and he referred to the Bill Gates Line, which comes from the following conversation:
Semil Shah: Do you see any similarities from your time at Facebook with Facebook platform and connect, and how Uber may supercharge their platform?
Chamath: Neither of them are platforms. They’re both kind of like these comical endeavors that do you as an Nth priority. I was in charge of Facebook Platform. We trumpeted it out like it was some hot shit big deal. And I remember when we raised money from Bill Gates, 3 or 4 months after — like our funding history was $5M, $83 M, $500M, and then $15B. When that 15B happened a few months after Facebook Platform and Gates said something along the lines of, “That’s a crock of shit. This isn’t a platform. A platform is when the economic value of everybody that uses it, exceeds the value of the company that creates it. Then it’s a platform.”
What I love about this is that it separates aggregators like Facebook & Google from real platform makers like Windows, iOS, AirBnB etc. In essence, a platform is a place where the combined revenue made by the users on the platform exceed the revenue made by the platform. If you’re working on a B2B product, I think that is a good metric to work on:
I think you should aim to be in the double digits here for viability. I’m curious to know what you think that number should be… even better if you can calculate it for your organization and see if that tracks with your organizations growth metrics.
Color of the Year
Pantone released their color of the year for 2022 - Very Peri:
Based on a previous comment from Rambo Ranga (who said that the colors were faint - closer to white ) I was curious to see if there were any trends in the color choices for this decade. What I found was interesting:
When you use the HSL values for this (and note that in HSL - Hue, Saturation and Lightness, Hue goes all the way to 360, while S & L limit to 100) and plot the trend:
There is a definite swinging going on… someone smarter than me can use the data to make a prediction of the color space for the future pantone color of the year, maybe?
Your relationship with repos
You might have heard your developers debate on whether your application be run under a monorepo or a polyrepo. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you or you don’t really care about how they run their repos. However, it doesn’t hurt to understand the concept and asking some critical questions. I’ll quickly gloss over the specifics on what a Monorepo is:
You should be aware of the strategy used to get the answers to the following questions:
Rollback effort - Does the option chosen have a significant impact on your rollback abilities?
Modular separation - Is the monorepo implemented in a way where you can separate deployment areas (Front-end from Backend)?
Branching strategies - What is the impact on the branching strategy? Can you choose features from the sprint to deploy? If yes, what is the overhead?
Ultimately, you don’t want to decide the strategy — you want to ensure that the escape routes (rollback, selective deployment etc.) that are available to you in case of error, are actually reliable and do not lead to further mess.
If you’ve made it this far, I’d love for you to answer this question:
How much time to do you spend in skill development (outside of work)?
Product Thought of the Week
I think we end up deprioritizing a lot of the communication we do. Successful PMs repeat their message, frequently. That adds to the weight of the message, as well as recall.
If you follow me on Twitter (where you get the PTOTD every day at 9:30am GST), you would have seen the system failure:
The reason for this is unfortunate — and a very interesting topic. Do let me know if you want to read about how these Tweets are generated.
Thank you for reading. I really love the comments I get from the newsletter. Please let me know if there is a topic you want me to cover.
Have a great week ahead!