Using Products to Solve Problems with Google Product Manager

Using products to solve problems is the basic PM philosophy. Why do we need products? What do we use them for? Rakesh Goyal from Google talked at a recent event about how people don’t really want products, they want solutions to their problems. To solve problems, we need to think why and how we build because essentially products are for people.  

Product Manager at Google

Rakesh Goyal has been working at Google for 6+ years. Before that, he was in college studying Marketing. Having worked in various capacity – customer support/sales, software development, program management and currently, product management – he has seen product development through various lenses. He has been leading early-stage products and has seen them through experimentation, launches, successes, and failures.

People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill

They want a quarter inch hole. This is a profound insight. Customers don’t want products; they want solutions to their problems. All great products are built around profound insights. In a recent talk, Rakesh shared some examples of successful products and the foundational insight on which they were built. Through examples he talked about how you can develop an intuition for discovering foundational insights upon which you can build your next product.

Solving Problems by Using Products with Google Product Manager

Key points:

  • Two important attributes that a Product Managers should have are leadership and product intuition.
  • Leadership:
    • The product manager is responsible for the overall end-to-end experience received by the user, such as the box the product is in, software and customer support.
    • A product manager needs to be able to make bold decisions and convince the others to see what he/she sees.
    • Guide the product in the right direction by prioritization.
  • Product intuition:
  • Snapchat example: teens needed to communicate without the adults seeing everything. Compared to Facebook, Snapchat is more personal. Facebook was designed for permanent and perfection-seeking content.
  • Airbnb example: people value homestay experience over the impersonal hotel. They are comfortable sleeping in “strangers’” houses and hosting others for less high prices. Airbnb neutralized the trust advantage of hotels.
  • Three ways to identify customers jobs
    • Jobs in your own life
    • Non consumption
    • Workarounds
  • 3 key things to address in your product
    • Current friction/struggle (e.g., SMS vs. free WhatsApp messages).
    • The anxiety of the unknown (trust in hotels vs. trust in Airbnb).
    • Current habits (phone calls vs. free WhatsApp calls).
  • Books to read more about the topic:

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