Learning from Failed Products By Google Product Manager

This week Product School hosted Prashant Nair, Product Manager at Google for an #AskMeAnything session. Prashant discussed how to talk to customers, experiencing failed products, managing frameworks, and more. He also shared his experience working at Google and advised for those who are actively looking to join the product industry.

Meet Prashant Nair

Prashant has experience across all areas of digital advertising including demand side, supply side, ad network, data platform, and analytics. Prashant’s specialties include Product Strategy, Product Management, Online Media & Advertising, Technology, and Leadership. Currently, he’s a Product Manager at Google, making Ads and Open Web great again, leading Product operations for AdX and Product operations for YouTube Ads.

Frameworks and Techniques

What is the best way to think about the value I’m bringing to the potential customers while creating a strategy?

You should engage with your customers deeply to understand their pain points. The problems they are trying to solve. Don’t ask, “what features would you like to see?” Rather ask, “what is your workflow and what are current points of friction?”

You might also be interested in: Best Ways to Analyze and Implement CX Changes Based on Customer Feedback

What is the best way to get Saas experience?

I recommend developing a strong set of core Product Manager skill set that can be applied to multiple models, domains, and industries. Lead with “how can I help the user” in either model.

Do you have any products that have failed? What did you learn from it?

Several. If you don’t have a bunch of your bets not working, you are most likely not taking enough bold steps. You are constantly learning and adapting to all aspects of the product.

You might also be interested in: Learning from Failure: Product Manager Style

Do you use Product Required Documents? How do you scope and review product/features with your team?

Yes, Product Required Documents are the starting document to anchor a “proposed” idea. Then it goes through several rounds of cross-functional and cross-product collaboration. Finally, when it is ready it goes through a Product Review forum. Once finalized the PRDs are put up for engineer prioritization.

How do you frame questions to ensure you aren’t projecting your biases onto the customer while talking to them?

This is not easy. But you have to suppress your instincts to jump to solutions and be invested in deeply understanding the user problem/needs and the gaps in current solutions they rely on.

You might also be interested in: 3 Key Biases in Product and How to Avoid Them by eBay Director of Product

What type of product management frameworks do you recommend for prioritization?

Pasting in the process that I have seen work best: “PRDs are the starting document to anchor a “proposed” idea. Then it goes through several rounds of cross-functional and cross-product collaboration. Finally, when it is ready it goes through a Product Review forum. Once finalized the PRDs are put up for Eng prioritization.”

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

Life at Google

What is a day in the life of a Google Product Manager like?

It starts with the best breakfast and coffee. After that, you collaborate with a bunch of immensely talented peers. We are mostly organized by Product teams.

How’s life at Google as a Product Manager?

It is great! The talent level here is amazing. I highly encourage you to look at the job postings and see if any talks to you.

How can I get a Product Manager role at Google? 

The best way is to search for careers.google.com and see if there is a role that interests you. The recruiters do their best to screen. You might have to apply to multiple roles and periodically.

Finding your Product Manager Career

What are your thoughts on creating a portfolio as a Product Manager? Have you seen this strategy work?

It depends on the role you are targeting. It is always encouraged to demonstrate expertise (as side projects or publicly accessible previous work), but in many industries, for PMs, you can’t. So I would say it is always a plus and provides you an edge, but not a core strategy. There are exceptions of course.

I’m out in the market looking for a job and I’m not getting calls. Any  thoughts?

It might just be the current nature of the market where hiring has slowed down in many companies. We have seen this in the past economic cycles as well. I would recommend continuing to apply aggressively and mostly importantly via your network.

Is there any particular thing on a resume that makes you feel positive about a  candidate?

I don’t focus too much on the resume. But as a generalist Product Manager candidate highlighting work across different levels of scope, complexity, and challenges is a positive.

You might also be interested in: 4 Tips to Write a Product Manager Resume Recruiters Will Notice + Examples

Any suggestions on transitioning from BA to Product Manager?

Try to see if you can take on part-time Product Manager work with a team in your company or even a full time 6 to 12 months rotation. If your company doesn’t have these options try talking to leadership to create such a path.

Any final advice for aspiring Product Managers

This session was a blast. I enjoyed the time engaging with such an awesome community here. Thanks, Product School for organizing and giving me the platform. I will be back for more engagements via Product School. I do recommend checking out my previous webinar titled, “A Practical Template for Product Thinking”. If you have more questions feel free to connect on LinkedIn or Twitter (@pmtogo)

Join us in our next #AskMeAnything Session for more insights!

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