Ever since Marissa Ann Mayer put a full stop to the work from home option for employees at Yahoo!, not a day has passed without a few blogs or articles expressing their view point. Chiming in with the season, this post takes a look at work from home for product managers. The short answer it seems is: “it depends”.
There are two primary parameters on which the decision hinges: Stage of the product and Team dynamics.
5 things which Eric Ries never meant in his book The Lean Startup
1. Build a quick and dirty minimum quality product to test with your users: The Lean Startup book gives a simple rule, “Remove any feature, process or effort that does not contribute directly to the learning that you seek”. At no instance does Eric Ries advocate the need to dilute quality.
2. Planning is a waste; do not plan however short your iterations are. The Lean Startup philosophy only says that strategic planning takes months to complete. Experiments can begin immediately – but skipping planning is a recipe for disaster because you need to be clear on what your hypothesis is and what you want to achieve however short term things are!
3. First version of your product need not be awesome; you have iterations to take care of improvisation. Success is in learning to solve the customer’s problem, not delivering a feature. Our customers are not waiting to do a favor by testing products that are sub-optimal. Sometimes sub-optimal experiments can result in a really wrong reading of customer’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction leading to incorrect pivots.
4. If your small experiment is successful it will automatically scale for growing volumes and will stand the test of time. Once you know that an experiment is clicking, spend the engineering time to make sure it scales. The book quotes Peter Drucker, ”There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.”; that is when something need not be done. When an experiment is successful, you must scale with efficiency.
5. Keep trying various pivots: Some products require the eco-system to stabilize; the Lean Startup offers a series of pivots of different nature which has a thin line with persevering. One needs to understand the essence of it and choose the right pivot; you will not get several chances to pivot.
I had just completed the upload of a new version of the iOS app to the Apple appstore and was waiting for approval (used to take around 7 days then) when I finally got a mail saying the app’s new version has been approved and is up for sale. As a Product Manager of the offering on iOS, I was pretty happy having completed an important milestone until the QA engineer called me to tell that when an existing user upgrades the app with the new version, it would render the app totally useless. My heart must have missed a heart beat, but since we had done enough testing, I wanted to experience it myself to make sure what the Quality Assurance engineer said was indeed right. A product manager’s worst nightmare had dawned up on me when I discovered it myself that the new version indeed would render the app useless – it would do nothing but just crash at startup putting several customers who used the product daily into utter inconvenience. My options were limited as several customers had updated the app to the new version via the auto-update. This is what I did: Continue reading