What should be the product manager. One of the opinions from Yandex

    This summer Yandex will host the seventh School of Managers . Each year, several hundred people claim to participate in it. Most of them have a lot of questions about what the work of a manager in Yandex is and what needs to be done in order to, in principle, be a good manager.



    Many of you are familiar with the traditional approach of separating project managers and product managers. Yandex often doesn’t have such a separation, and most likely you will need the knowledge and skills of both specializations in your work. The role of a manager is constantly evolving. Companies and services are growing, processes are changing - all this entails a constant rethinking of this role. In such circumstances, there is a constant risk that it will turn into an obscure entity. Only constant reflection on the topic of what and how the manager should do can save from this.

    It is important not to forget that the manager is not a position in the workbook, but a role in the team. Most often, disputes arise around the product component of the manager’s work. It is important that the whole team understands what this work consists of.

    There are very understandable roles in our industry. For example, a software developer. He basically writes code on a computer in some common programming language. Using a version control system, it makes its code a part of the general repository. This code is syntactically correct (compiled without errors if it comes to C ++) and, if it is run, it works and does something, the use of which can be explained to the manager. If the programmer does not succeed, then it will be very, very difficult not to be fired.

    Product manager less understood role. Sometimes I suspect that the requirements for them are not fixed and are not generally known even at the level of abstraction applied by the paragraph above. At the same time, the word “product” and phrases based on it are often used either as an element of bulshit-bingo, or as a magic card “I am winning the argument”. This is bad. The phrase “according to the product vision” should not be synonymous with “I have decided so because I can.” “In the course of grocery work” should not mean “my colleague and I sat and thought for a bit.” This practice is not only slightly harmful to the cause, but also very contagious - because everyone wants to have a special grocery magic!

    I would like to say that all these words actually indicate what standards and practices are needed to make awesome, amazing products.

    First, a little about the meaning of the word “work”, that is, the suspicion that inflation occurred with it (as with the words “unique”, “expert” or “amazing”). Work - this is what a person does regularly, (at least) eight hours a day, five days a week, what he is tired of, what he wants to go on vacation and relax there. The work contains some repeating, routine elements. The work can be largely formalized, otherwise it is called art. At the same time, it cannot be fully formalized, otherwise it is more correct to automate it or assign it to the tolokers. As a result of the work, material artifacts regularly appear, they can be seen, read, and “touched.” These artifacts are of high quality and low quality, and this is an objective characteristic. A professional at work generates better artifacts,

    “Grocery work” is work. The product manager regularly and routinely does something that makes the final product better. In my picture of the world, he does the following.

    Continuously uses its product and competitors' products. Product Avito not only uses its website, Yulia, Aliexpress, etc., it regularly and regularly buys all sorts of unknown things such as Lego constructors, antique jewelry boxes and lace scarves. Spotify can only be seen without headphones if it communicates with live people right here and now. The person who does the Yandex search is obliged to search for everything in the world: in Yandex, Google, Bing, and even in Baidu, on phones, tablets and laptops, at home, at work, in the subway and at the airport. A competent product is a fan of his work and those scenarios that are solved with his help. There is a famous business story (I retell it from memory, I can lie in details) about how European firms broke off and suffered losses over and over again, trying to release a simple, seemingly a household appliance item: a rice cooker. They developed, produced, advertised and distributed them, just like with kettles and washing machines, but then something went wrong, no one bought them. Alas for them, a rice cooker can only be designed by a person who eats rice daily, cooks it every day for himself, for his family and, on special occasions, for a group of friends, who not only can cook rice in a family in different ways, but also considers this meaningful and appropriate. In Europe, there were none. If one of the developers has to “open” the product’s eyes to the fact that competitors have such a feature made differently from ours, and the product does not have a ready top of mind answer to why it is better, then this , in my opinion, a major failure. They advertised and distributed, just like with kettles and washing machines, but then something went wrong, no one bought them. Alas for them, a rice cooker can only be designed by a person who eats rice daily, cooks it every day for himself, for his family and, on special occasions, for a group of friends, who not only can cook rice in a family in different ways, but also considers this meaningful and appropriate. In Europe, there were none. If one of the developers has to “open” the product’s eyes to the fact that competitors have such a feature made differently from ours, and the product does not have a ready top of mind answer to why it is better, then this , in my opinion, a major failure. They advertised and distributed, just like with kettles and washing machines, but then something went wrong, no one bought them. Alas for them, a rice cooker can only be designed by a person who eats rice daily, cooks it every day for himself, for his family and, on special occasions, for a group of friends, who not only can cook rice in a family in different ways, but also considers this meaningful and appropriate. In Europe, there were none. If one of the developers has to “open” the product’s eyes to the fact that competitors have such a feature made differently from ours, and the product does not have a ready top of mind answer to why it is better, then this , in my opinion, a major failure. eating rice daily, preparing it every day for himself, for his family and, on special occasions, for a group of friends, who not only can cook rice with his family in different ways, but also considers this meaningful and appropriate. In Europe, there were none. If one of the developers has to “open” the product’s eyes to the fact that competitors have such a feature made differently from ours, and the product does not have a ready top of mind answer to why it is better, then this , in my opinion, a major failure. eating rice daily, preparing it every day for himself, for his family and, on special occasions, for a group of friends, who not only can cook rice with his family in different ways, but also considers this meaningful and appropriate. In Europe, there were none. If one of the developers has to “open” the product’s eyes to the fact that competitors have such a feature made differently from ours, and the product does not have a ready top of mind answer to why it is better, then this , in my opinion, a major failure.

    He regularly holds playtests, tests his and other people's products on other people. I specifically do not call this “UX testing”, because this term in many large companies, including Yandex, means a very specific labor-intensive research method, far from the only possible, and not always the most correct one. If you get to a full-fledged UX only once every few weeks, catch colleagues in the corridor and ask them to spend 15 minutes on you. Torture your grandmother or husband. And if the icon of the project’s mobile application on the launch day causes a sensation on the Internet with its similarity to any part of the body, and for the team this is a surprise, it was not intended so, then this is a product failure, and not someone else.

    Constantly and in detail tells all team members and customers about what they actually do. If someone in the team does not know why this or that feature, and how people will use it, or knows, but does not believe in it, this is a product problem. Therefore, it is difficult for a product to be an introvert. An introvert product will have to write multi-letter to all channels: to mail in person and to mailings, to tickets, internal social networks, to instant messengers, to wikis. The extrovert will also have to write a lot, but the introvert is even more. The product, which does not know how to correctly and clearly write in Russian, is so far incompetent, but, fortunately, it is easy to write clearly in Russian, our language is rich and powerful, and constant practice quickly compensates for any initial lag.

    Most of all the team is a fan of quality, in all details and aspects. Including if the product slows down, bazhot, spammed, etc. Often the product does not have direct levers of influence on developers and allies, so this will require manifestation of social skills and personal emotional involvement, up to theatricality. The product sincerely uses words like “awesome” and “shame”. He can say: “This is impossible, we will all be fired,” so that they would believe him. He grabs his heart if he hears statements from the developer or designer in the spirit of "and so it will do." He is not even afraid (even!) To meditate on his superiors, or to demand that the release be canceled (unimaginably!) If the rest does not work. Do not be afraid to seem too rooting for your work, "too" to do it is impossible. Absolute failure, if a product, say, hands over a design to a designer, through the sprint, takes the result, and answers the questions that "the designers decided so." Or puts up with the fact that the main page of the service on wifi is loaded for several seconds, without kicking developers about it constantly. Or knows that competitors have a better product, and calmly refers to it. Or, in response to the question “Why do I have such results?” He answers: “Machine learning decided so.” Or connected a certain “black box” to the project (for example, based on someone else’s API or, scary to say, Formula trained by CatBoost in general), without checking the results of its work “on sanity” from and to. Do not do like this. and calmly refers to this. Or, in response to the question “Why do I have such results?” He answers: “Machine learning decided so.” Or connected a certain “black box” to the project (for example, based on someone else’s API or, scary to say, Formula trained by CatBoost in general), without checking the results of its work “on sanity” from and to. Do not do like this. and calmly refers to this. Or, in response to the question “Why do I have such results?” He answers: “Machine learning decided so.” Or connected a certain “black box” to the project (for example, based on someone else’s API or, scary to say, Formula trained by CatBoost in general), without checking the results of its work “on sanity” from and to. Do not do like this.

    He understands which features are “cheap” and which are “expensive”, generates and sorts his Wishlist according to the “price / quality” ratio. If competitors are launching something, after which the product raises the question “what could it be like that?”, Then this is not “no one warned him”, this is his personal failure. If someone in the team has nothing to do at least at some point in time, this is also his failure. And if he does not know how much it will cost to make X at least accurate to the order, but wants to make it X, too.

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