Approaching the Future of Product with Facebook Product Manager

This week Product School hosted Georgie Matthews current Product Manager at Facebook for an #AskMeAnything session. Georgie shared his opinion on the future of Product Management and different skills and frame works every Product Manager should know.

Meet Georgie Matthews

Georgie Matthews is a Product Manager at Facebook with 8+ years of experience in Product. Georgie started his professional career in software engineering at HSBC and shortly after became a consultant at BCG. He later entered the field of Product and became Senior Product Manager at Amazon and Amazon Web Services where he launched many Products such as Amazon Custom, Amazon Pinpoint – a AWS marketing service, Fire Phone.

The Future of Product Management 

What do you think the Future of Product Management looks like? How do Product Managers stay relevant in the future?

Great question – Let me start with I think the future of Product Management is great and we will continue to be critical contributors to technology and innovation. We will help drive empathy, harness business, and human impact for technology. That is why I am a Product Manager.

Product Managers stay relevant by:

  • Keep learning
  • Stay curious
  • Push the boundaries
  • Focus on the people problems and not the tech

What keeps you up at night? What are the big rock challenges you’re faced with – and how do you get out in front of those challenges?

  • Continue to learn and keep pace with how technology is evolving
  • Driving impact on my current products
  • Building a healthy and motivated team that feels valued
  • Driving better collaboration across my XFN and empowering people who work with me more

Skills to Master 

How do you move on after working tirelessly on a product and when it does not perform well as expected or a failure in some cases?

You need to:

  • Start with a vision and definition of what success looks like, and stay true to yourself and the product by checking in frequently where you are
  • Check if pivots will help and be open to them
  • Know that failure is part of the game, you are in product knowing that a lot of times things you build will not see the light of the day
  • You are responsible for your team and you need to make the hard decisions

You might also be interested in: Learning from Failed Products By Google Product Manager

What are the technical things an Aspiring Product Manager from a nontechnical background needs to know?

You can be a great Product Manager without having a technical background. Things you need:

  • Build a superpower – if you can be the voice of the great customer
  • Get the tech basics right and understand the logic of your product. You don’t need to code but you need to understand that logic
  • Build strong relationships with your engineers, they will fill in the gaps along the way

You might also be interested in: Why Becoming a PM Without a Technical Background Is Possible

How can a Product Manager become a Lead Product Manager, before having the experience of leading a team ?

  • Understand your org your company and how it works
  • Always be looking for leadership and influence opportunities such as mentoring, etc.
  • Be upfront with your leadership of how you see your career growing

How do you handle disagreements between a Product Manager and CEOs?

The way to handle disconnects like that is to:

  • UX disconnects: Get to the product basics and walk leaderships through the experience and challenges
  • Metrics disconnects: See if you can experiment to get a quick signal, also check if there is a historical context
  • Strategy disconnects: Is there data to prove one way or the other, is this a one-way door, what is the cost of this. At times the cost of the pivot and breaking it down is a super effective mechanism.

You might also be interested in: Product Leadership Skills: Conflict Resolution

What are the most important skills needed to break into the industry and be successful?

  • Structured thinking
  • Ability to break down problems
  • Ability to empathize and identify stakeholders

Key Tools and Frameworks 

How do you develop a strong point of view on what a product should prioritize the most?

Great question.

  • Understand and define what is the motivation behind the product and what critical metric drives that goal/motivation.
  • Experiment – you learn by doing. Figure out ways to get learnings fast.
  • Understand your users and what is important to them. Buyers are important for eCommerce, but for buyer selection and a great price is important.
  • Focus on the inputs and outputs that will happen.

You might also be interested in: 3 Prioritization Techniques All Product Managers Should Know

 What is your approach to feature prioritization?

  • How does the feature add up to the team or organizations product strategy
  • Impact of feature and what is the confidence of realizing that impact
  • Are there dependencies that are needed to drive feature impact
  • Does the feature helps reduce the teams operational overhead
  • Cost of the feature

You might also be interested in: Common Product Prioritization Mistakes

How do you write a vision for a product?

Figuring out a vision:

  • Identify who the customers for the product are, what are their pain points
  • Define how #1 drives the motivation or why are we building the product
  • Define the aspirational scale and scope of the product

Crafting the vision:

  • Be direct
  • Call out the critical impact that you want to drive
  • Call out who are you driving the impact for
  • Be as concise as possible

Join us next week for another #AskMeAnything Session for more insights from Product Managers around the world!

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