Listening is a prerequisite. Hearing is the skill.
Lots of people can sit on a customer call, and they can listen to what people share. But a skilled productician will hear what isn’t being said, what assumptions are being made, what the root problem is, what the current paradigm might not support.
A good product manager is in the selling business: surfacing enough data and insight to sell themselves on investing in a problem, navigating opportunity cost to sell their team on solving the problem, packaging the strategy to sell the company on the idea, and crafting strong positioning to sell people on using the product.
Leadership doesn’t come from wanting to be a leader. It comes from having followers.
Build for customers, not for deadlines.
If you want to drive value as quickly as possible, set a timeline at then end of which you want to ship something. Focus relentlessly on cutting scope while still getting to the core use pain point. What you deliver may be a fraction of what you hoped for, but it’s driven by customer value and you released it “on time.” Rinse and repeat. It may take a while to get even your MVP out the door, but you will know that you’re focused on delivering customer value, and you will get a strong sense of your capacity and velocity.
If you want to ship an experience (rather than a feature) with a minimum set of functionality, consider scopeboxing. Determine what needs to be involved and derive clear product delivery milestones – user story mapping and slicing the work on both horizontal (user journey) and vertical (lightweight full-function through the stack) can do wonders to help here. Hold back on offering any ETAs to other stakeholders, internal or external – you’re not focused on time under this practice, you’re focused on scope. Relentlessly evaluate if you’ve gotten the scope of each milestone correct by questioning it and sketching out alternatives. Get each into a prospective user’s hands as they go live to see if it’s usable, used, and worth using.
This is especially true when faced with a multitude of different modes of data: open-end, scale, and rich media like videos. But when your analysis window is tight, you’re likely to fly past that meaty “who-they-are-data,” and scour for the flashy “clear-business-impact-data.”Kyli Herzberg, Lindsey Brinkworth, Karen Eisenhauer, and Ben Wiedmaier in Foolproof Qualitative Analysis Tactics—For Whether You Have a Month or an Afternoon
The “who” tells you the why, which lets you foster the change management necessary to drive product success. A product that nails the “business impact” without fitting into the workflow and motivations, the “who they are,” of real humans, yields no impact.