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Many of today’s most successful companies, like Amazon and Spotify, have reputations for consistently delivering great products. That doesn’t happen by accident. Those companies often have clear frameworks for how they manage and build products. Those product management frameworks give teams a repeatable way to improve upon and build their products consistently.
Without a product management framework, repeating the process that built the last great product would be really difficult. Think about baking a cake. If you follow a recipe, you’ll have a good chance of making a delicious cake. You may even have it memorized and can keep making great cakes on your own. But if you want to run a bakery with various workers (bakers, buyers, cashiers, etc.), you need that recipe to keep churning out wonderful cakes to have a great bakery.
If you want your company to build products like those you see from Spotify, Amazon, Shopify, and more, you need to use a product management framework.
We’ve researched the product management frameworks from five successful companies to find out how they consistently create great products. These frameworks give you repeatable guidelines on how you should do product discovery, prioritization, and execution.
Spotify is perhaps well known for its autonomous “squads.” Squads consist of six to twelve employees who have the freedom to work in whatever way suits them best. That allows different groups within the company to work on the projects that make the most sense for them.
Even though these squads are autonomous, they’re highly aligned. Each squad has a leader, whose goal is to align the squad behind one mission. Each mission focuses on one part of Spotify’s product.
Technically, this allows for small, frequent, and decoupled releases. Each team or squad can focus on their specific goal without disrupting the work of others.
This organizational structure also gives way to Spotify’s experimental approach of iterating and delivering a great product experience. Their focus is not only to deliver a great product but to do so at minimal risk and operational cost. Given the size of their user base, poorly designed features can lead to painfully negative consequences.
They follow a model of Think It, Build It, Ship It, Tweak It.
Amazon approaches product management by “working backward.” A former GM of Amazon, Ian McAllister, explained this approach in a Quora thread. Amazon starts any new product by explaining precisely what they hope customers and the media will say when they get their hands on it.
Amazon doesn’t start by outlining a new product’s intended features or capabilities. At this point, they focus on the customer reaction they’re hoping to elicit.
When a product manager has an idea for a new product or product feature, they write an internal press release that announces the finished product. No one may have done any development on the idea at this stage.
The press release focuses on a customer problem and how the current solution doesn’t solve that problem. From there, they explain how the proposed new product will blow away existing solutions.
These press releases aren’t just a rough draft of an idea; product managers have to iterate on them until they clearly explain how the product will help a customer. Andy Jassy, Amazon’s head of AWS, has gone through as many as 31 drafts of a press release before presenting it to anyone.
If a product manager can’t write a convincing press release, they scrap the idea. The general rule is that if the press release is hard to write or difficult to explain, the finished product likely won’t succeed. Amazon wants all of its products easy to understand and simple to use. With those goals, it should be easy to write a press release that makes sense even without the finished product.
Once the leadership team approves a press release, the product team uses it as a roadmap for development.
Typeform uses a two-part product management framework. The first half focuses on product discovery, which Typeform considers to be crucially important. The second half of their framework focuses on delivery.
Discovery consists of identifying problems, brainstorming solutions, and validating solutions with a testable product.
Once a feature clears Discovery, it moves to delivery, which is made up of three more steps: scope, execution, and measurement, and iteration.
What sets Typeform’s framework apart is its unique approach to MVPs. They don’t have just one version. Instead, they break the MVP into three parts:
Breaking down your MVP into bite-sized pieces will help you get feedback and data during every step of the process. That way, you can use a much more measured and testable approach to delivering something your customers want.
GoGoVan structures its product teams into one of nine business objectives. Each team works on a single objective, which allows employees on each team to get a deep understanding of their goals.
They structure product discovery based on three pillars: user interviews, sales interviews, and usage data. Product managers spend a lot of time talking to users and listening in on sales calls. Their goal is to get the most in-depth understanding of their users as possible. They also mine usage data to see where inefficiencies exist. They use all this information to develop the best solution to address each problem area.
Once they’ve identified problems and potential solutions, GoGoVan prioritizes which features will have the highest impact on their users.
Before they start building anything, GoGoVan puts themselves back into the customer’s shoes one more time. They review their potential solutions to try and understand if it’s the simplest solution possible. Once they’re satisfied that they’ve found a simple solution, they still don’t start building anything. There’s one more step to go, and it’s crucial.
Before GoGoVan spends any time building a product, they define success metrics, which must link back to the single objective for their team. Defining these metrics avoids any instant reflex reactions when the data starts pouring in.
At this point, GoGoVan pushes the solution into development. Once it’s finished and rolled out to users, they circle back and review the success metrics. If the product feature isn’t hitting them, it’s back to the drawing board.
Shopify uses multiple frameworks and different structures across many of its teams. The most interesting is the product growth framework. Its goal is to grow the adoption of a product, not just build it. Shopify’s GM, Sylvia Ng, developed this framework.
The product growth framework has eight steps:
Following this framework will give you a repeatable way to grow your product. Sylvia used this framework at several companies, which means it’s easy to adapt, and you can use it at your company.
Consumers might notice if you create one great product. But if you never do it again, they’ll forget about you and move on to the next thing that comes along.
Consistently putting out great products builds your brand, which creates not only customers, but also advocates and evangelists. It’s one of the reasons Spotify, Shopify, Amazon, and the others are so well known. They consistently deliver great products. Product management frameworks will help you deliver products like many of today’s successful companies.
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