Building a ‘good product’ is the bread and butter of all Product Managers today. This is based on the assumption that good products are successful products – and successful products have positive impacts on society, as well as the bottom line of the company. But are we clear about what makes a product a good product, asks David Jeames?
Much has been said about the role of a Product Manager and how complex it is. In his 2011 ground-breaking article ‘What, exactly, is a Product Manager?’, Martin Eriksson drew this clearly articulated Venn diagram to represent the breadth of skills needed to be a good Product Manager:
The first time I read this article a few years ago, it reminded me of a discussion I had with a friend at Uni. We were talking about the role of the Engineer and how this closely relates to the role of the Product Manager. He then said something that has influenced my career ever since…
“A good product is a product that is Useful, Usable and Used” Nicolas Saugnier
This powerful quote drives most of my decisions about my personal growth, as well as my products today. Let's deconstruct it a little bit.
A good product is... a Product
A good product is something that exists as a result of some engineering, design, craft or art. It’s the outcome of some applied expertise that transforms things into a Product. It requires work, energy and dedication to build. This gives us the first dimension of a good product – Technical.
A good product is... Useful
A good product provides value or solves a problem for the customer. It’s either a vitamin or a painkiller. It helps the customer to achieve more or reduces the challenges to achieve the same. It modifies – for the best – human activities and interactions. This gives us the second dimension of a good product – Business.
A good product is... Usable
A good product is easy to use – user-friendly. It is intuitive and feels natural to use. It’s like a second skin and inserts itself into an already-existing workflow. It takes care of the onboarding of the user, as well as their learning curve to quickly make users experts. This gives us the third dimension of a good product – Customer eXperience.
A good product is... Used
A good product is not the one that stays in a drawer full of dust. It’s one that finds its audience and is in the hands of its users. A product might be an amazing piece of technology that solves the world’s toughest problem, it behaves correctly, but as soon as no-one uses it, then it is useless. This gives us the fourth dimension of a good product – Sales and Marketing.
These four dimensions draft the skills needed by a team to build good products. Good Product Managers therefore need to understand, collaborate with, and support the team that has these expert skills. Looking back to Martin Eriksson's Venn diagram, I’ve modified it a little...
Do you – as Product Manager – interact with the right people to build a good product? Do you have the right skill set in your team to deliver it? Let me know how you’re going to use this new mental model in your day-to-day work.