I launched Isotope - a podcast where people from different educational backgrounds talk about how they built a successful career in SaaS.
As part of the first episode, I had a 30-minute chat with Sanjeev NC - product manager at SuperOps.ai. The episode had several valuable insights for new and aspiring product managers. For easier consumption, I've added the top 5 tips that would make life easier for new aspiring and new product managers.
What is Product Management?
Sanjeev: Product management is simply about solving a problem for someone through a product. This has been happening for ages. But, we've only labeled it right now. The labeling is good. Because it has now opened up a lot of opportunities.
When you ask someone what is product management, they'll say it is about design, UI/UX, or coding. Product management is solving the problem but then the actual execution is not done by the product manager. It is a very influential role where a product manager relies on the team for execution. The only thing a product manager owns is the problem.
What is the best way to learn product management?
Sanjeev: The best way to learn product management if you're a beginner is by joining a company in a different role and later move into the role of a product manager. Another way is by solving a problem for yourself. Take a problem and try to build a solution. You can also build that solution using no-code tools and publish them on social media. This way you learn the nuances of how to solve a problem and take it to completion.
As a product manager, how to course-correct when something goes wrong?
Sanjeev: As a product manager, your strategy should be to make small reversible decisions than making big irreversible decisions. I think if you go on that path, it is easy to reverse anything that you do because you cannot predict everything that is going to happen. It is impossible for you to look at every use case and every situation and tackle every edge case. If you're trying to do everything then you're simply wasting time. I think you should focus on things that are reversible and make small steps. It is like playing a game of minesweeper. Take one small step at a time.
Even if you make a mistake, know that the customers are forgiving. They understand how products are built and they're not perfect. As long as you keep them communicated about the repercussions and what you're doing to fix them, they'll be forgiving.
What do you aspire to achieve as a product manager?
Sanjeev: As a product manager, I want to bring best practices into a product. I want to bring philosophies to life. Look at what Jira did! Agile as a term and agile as a concept existed for ages. But, before Jira, people really struggled to get it done. Because you never had any tool that brought it to life. You never had any product that really understood what is Agile. Jira replaced Agile and Jira basically brought agile to life in many organizations. Same thing Trello did with Kanban. Kanban as a concept existed for ages, but Trello brought it to life and people found it really easy to use. My aspiration is to identify one such philosophy and bring it to life.
What should one do in order to accelerate their journey into product management?
Sanjeev: The easiest thing to do is talking to product managers. Reach out to people on LinkedIn. If you're read/heard someone talk about product management on Twitter, reach out to them and you'll be surprised to see that people are more than willing to talk about their jobs. People generally love talking about their jobs and if someone is interested in it, it is gonna make them happy. Another thing you can do is what other companies are doing. A lot of companies talk about how they've built their product and that will help you build your product management muscle.
Then you can try solving a problem by yourself. Do it as a fun project. You'll learn how to solve the problem, the factors involved in building a solution, and so on.
One thing I would say is, don't view it as an aspirational role. Don't think that you're not ready to become a product manager - you'll have to learn so much and wait before I become a product manager. I think there is no experience or correlation between things that you've done before and experience. Product management is all about your ability to solve a problem. If you have that muscle of problem-solving, you're ready. There is no such thing called "It is too early for me to become a product manager."
Listen to the complete episode for more insights: