Rules of Product Management – Notes from the Book Part 2

I finished reading  42 Rules of Product Management. Here are some snippets from this book.

On Learning and Product Managers

“The most successful product managers I have known were as comfortable reading Michael Crichton as they were reading Applied Economics. In fact, they spent much of their time in between meetings reading the latest analyst reports and marking up the margins with notes.”

On Managing

Take the time to step back and think about the overall context for your product. Here are a few categories of thoughts to consider –  market dynamics, customer and share of market, business model, pricing and value.

On Great Execution

There are thousands of little decisions that need to be made when bringing a new product to market. These decisions can be broadly classified into four categories:

  • Market, customer, product, and functionality
  • Sales and distribution
  • Usability
  • Technical, engineering, implementation, maintenance, and support

Product managers are only experts in the first area but have to drive decison making in all the four categories

On Market Positioning

Large markets represent billions (or trillions) of dollars of opportunity. But they cannot be approached at this level because large markets are really a composite of medium markets which are made up of smaller and smaller markets. Each market segment supports a specific group of market needs.

As markets mature, companies need to put more energy into positioning and choose those market segments which best align with their products, services, and solutions offering as well as core competencies.

Adjacent markets can also represent growth opportunities

On Customer Research

Customer research generates not only good, unexpected insights for your product throughout the lifecycle,
it’s important to remember to use that feedback to manage the internal discussions and debates.

On Marketing approach

The difference between “product readiness” and “market readiness.”

  • What (or who) influences the customer most?is it other people (industry influencers, colleagues, friends), certain publications or news sources, evidence or proof that your product works?
  • Are people ready for the whole product or do they need to try before they buy?
  • What drives your audience to buy? In other words, are they viral, aspirational, data oriented etc.?
  • What metrics does your company need to see in order to deem your product a success?

Customers are now the leading source of innovations globally (41 percent) and are more important than other sources inside companies, including research and development.

you need to make sure that your products are solving your customers’ needs better than your competitors’ products are—and that you are communicating that in a way that they can make that connection themselves.

On Finding Problems

Find market problems worth solving. This is often the hardest part of our job. We can get so close to our products that we no longer have the wide view to see market problems that are bigger than problems that are currently being addressed. Instead, we see the world through our products and often add new features to further enhance solutions to problems that have already been adequately solved.

It is product management’s responsibility to identify customer problems worth solving. It is engineering’s role to identify technical solutions to those problems.

On Research

Research helps you understand

  1. Your customers
  2. Your competitive marketplace
  3. Competitors
  4. Your own product (perceptions)

Two week rule

Never go more than two weeks without putting your product ideas in front of real users and customers

Steve Blank has a great line about this: “In a startup, no facts exist inside the building, only opinions.”

Markets do not buy products, people do; businesses do not buy products, people (several, or a group, but always people) do.

If your market is in the United States, consider using the NAICS database for industry and labor classifications to get your arms around the total market. Step back from your draft segmentation. Ask if this makes sense. Is it clear? Easily understood? Does it map into the real world?

On Positioning Statement

The positioning statement provides the first decision filter because it defines what you are, and any idea either needs to reinforce that identity or move you down a path defined by your vision. The positioning statement is what you say if someone with a minimal understanding of your industry asks what your product is.


This post is entirely based on the  contents from the book and except one minor summarization, I have not written anything. So this post is really dedicated to the authors of the wonderful book. If you are a product manager, it is a must read.

I love the way the book ends. Rules are meant to be broken. So while all these rules are great guidelines, make up your own based on what you learn form applying them.