Video: Product Management & Innovation with Productboard

Video: Sachin Rekhi on Product Management & Innovation | Behind the Roadmap

I recently joined Productboard in my home for a conversation about all things product management and innovation.

We covered so many topics in this 15 minute video, including:

A Primer on Cultivating Taste from Legendary Producer Rick Rubin

I've always felt that product design was a creative endeavor and the work that most moves our industry forward stems from practitioners who could easily be described as artists. Given this, I've often wondered whether one of the best ways to improve our craft as product designers would be to immerse ourselves in the best practices of artists at large. I got the chance to explore exactly that when legendary producer Rick Rubin, behind iconic artists like Adele, Linkin Park, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, published his new book. In The Creative Act, Rubin shares everything he has learned about harnessing your creativity from his decades working with some of the most successful recording artists of our time.

Video: How Today's Product Builders Find Product/Market Fit

Video: How Today's Product Builders Find Product/Market Fit

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Fareed Mosavat, Chief Development Officer at Reforge, for a discussion on how today's product builders find product/market fit.

We started by pointing out the shortcomings of the Lean Startup methodology, which remains the most popular approach to finding product/market fit today. We then discussed some of the more modern approaches that seasoned product builders have been leveraging to guide their path to product market fit, including:
  • Running successful customer discovery interviews that avoid the typical trap of confirmation bias
  • Deeply exploring the idea maze up-front to avoid unsuccessful paths
  • Leveraging a portfolio of validation techniques beyond simply building MVPs
  • Rigorously measuring product/market fit via retention & growth
  • Growing users via a two-prong approach of generating early traction and then developing a sustainable growth loop

New Course: Finding Product/Market Fit

The hardest part of bringing a new product to market is always the elusive hunt for product/market fit. Marc Andreessen describes product/market fit as "being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market". I've dedicated my entire career to five such hunts across the three startups I co-founded as well as the new products I built at LinkedIn and Microsoft. Despite sounding so simple, I have plenty of scars from failing to find product/market fit, but also from the long and winding path it ultimately took to get there.

In 2007 I founded my first startup, Anywhere.FM, which developed a web music player that allowed you to upload your entire music collection to the web and then stream it from anywhere. Influenced by being an early Y Combinator company, we leveraged the emerging Lean Startup methodology popularized by Eric Ries. The methodology was a direct reaction to the failures of dot com era startups, including their focus on putting together elaborate business plans and enduring long product development cycles before launching to customers. Instead the Lean Startup encouraged launching a minimum viable product (MVP) as quickly as possible to maximize customer feedback from real users. So we did just that: hurried an MVP to market in a matter of months and got tons of early feedback from customers. But despite doing this, garnering glowing press reviews, and growing to over 100,000 users, we still ultimately failed to find PMF because we were never able to find a viable business model for our product. While we were ultimately acqui-hired by imeem for the impressive tech we had developed, our dreams of building an independent web music player were over.

Video: Product Strategy, Getting Buy-In, and Startup Ideas

Video: Product Strategy, Systems, and Frameworks with Sachin Rekhi
Slides: LinkedIn Learning: Product Strategy, Systems, and Frameworks

I was recently invited to speak as part of the Product Management Learning Series hosted by LinkedIn Learning. We covered a variety of my favorite product frameworks.

We started our discussion with some of the most effective ways to make a career transition into product management. The first approach is leveraging an adjacent role, like business operations, marketing, design, and engineering, to work with and impress your product partner and parlaying that experience into a product role. We also talked about how domain experts are often recruited to become product managers even without functional product experience. For example, I've had a friend with a masters degree in education become a product manager at an edtech startup, a sales operations professional become a PM at a sales tech startup, and an MD become a PM at a health care startup.

We then moved the discussion on to how to come up with a compelling product strategy. We covered the 6 dimensions that every product strategy needs to address, including the problem you're solving, target audience, value proposition, competitive advantage, growth strategy, and business model. And we discussed how you need to have strong interplay or coherence amongst the dimensions for your strategy to be compelling.