Building products that people love is a science. It requires a scientist’s mindset and approach to the world. All in all, it can be said that project management gets fed from critical thinking, curiosity and experimentation.

Given the involvement of the tech world in product management, it is important to understand the current relationship between the two.

To help you do so, engineer and product manager, Nihal Yildiz provides a clear breakdown of a recent Product Insights Report by Airtable to shine light on this relationship.

If you’re interested in more insights related to the big world of business, sign up for our EWOR Platform and gain access to over 17 courses and a plethora of resources curated just for you by experienced and successful entrepreneurs.

What Does This Report Mean for Product Management?

The 2022 Airtable’s Product Insights Report demonstrates the importance of reasoning skills and individual autonomy very effectively. 

The data-backed observations and corrective actions are spot on. For the report, 700 product professionals across the United States participated in this survey to help the tech world understand where we stand in today’s modern product management world.

As a matter of fact, I can’t even imagine the results of such a survey if it was to run in Europe. The studies suggest that the tech industry in the US is 20 years ahead of the game in comparison to Europe’s, hence my concerns are valid.

With that in mind, below I recategorise the key areas the report touches on with my own interpretation.

1. Habits

Everything boils down to the habits of the individuals and the rhythm of the teams. As James Clear says, “The ultimate purpose of habits is to solve the problems of life with as little energy and effort as possible.” Your habits are the prime constraints of your productivity and efficiency.

2. Mindset

How do you do what you do? Mindset matters. A lot. What heuristics do you employ and develop through the challenges?

The best teams I have worked with are the ones who make reasoning their glue and key to every piece of work they touch. This not only helps them to understand the product in a system of thinking, but also paves the ways to break the rules for innovation.

3. Goal Setting

What is your long-term product vision? How do you set your goals and objectives in product management?

Only 29% of teams always hit their goals, and just 42% of product teams understand the long-term product vision. Worrying, right? 

Yet, I am very optimistic that it is on a path to recovery. However, the change needs to happen at a faster pace.

4. Motivation and Autonomy

What motivates teams like yours?

Help your team to understand the “why” behind the work. Why does this matter?

The ability to make your own decisions without being controlled or micromanaged should be the norm. The more independent the teams are, the more engaged they are in their work.

5. Data and Information

The case is two folds:

  1. How does the information flow across your teams?

    A mere 24% of teams say it’s very easy to find the information they need to do their work successfully.

2. What’s the clear, data-backed decision-making approach you have in . place? Facts, metrics, or data alone do not drive success.

6. Alignment

How well can you sync across the teams? What is the universal glue that keeps the teams aligned? What’s holding them back?

Prioritise creating and socialising a single source of truth for broader, better alignment.

7. Impact

How does your product change people’s lives, and how do people and tech influence your impact on customers and the business? What do the product teams use then to measure their success?

This is all to say: let those in charge of product management, the project managers, play the game and be in the game.

Investing in operational foundations helps your team get the right context, and build the right structure. After that, it’s time to hand the reins to your team.

Building the right foundations lets your team move faster, and stay focused on building innovative products your customers love.

We need to design our systems, and environments based on autonomy and constant experimenting. Product managers will then learn how to optimise it based on all the factors that affect the nature and dynamics of the teams. In this way, we all can achieve what we desire, and the business can thrive. This is the end of a one-size-fits-all approach.

That’s a Wrap on Today’s Product Management Review

The kids who are set to play freely in thoughtfully designed and creative playgrounds are more successful than their peers who are overly protected.

If you design the playground in a way that is under no condition perilous yet empowering with a healthy level of risk, you will allow them to do risky things carefully. This is where the fun, learning and innovation start. Needless to say, the same applies to the product teams.

About the author

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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