I recently tweeted about learning as a PM and how to use the BUILD - MEASURE - LEARN loop for your own development.
I became a PM 1 year out of college. From being a junior dev who did not have the access to deploy to Prod and had to rely on his TL for small issues, I transitioned to someone who could tell people with 10 years work experience how to “build products”.
The PM role is a delicate mix of Individual Contributor work and leading a team. To become good at my job and not screw up I started creating a bunch of lists and frameworks.
The general feedback loop for a PM:
Do stuff -> Measure the impact -> Learn -> Incorporate learnings into your processes -> Do more stuff.
Below are the lists I created for incorporating the above loop in my job.
- DECISIONS LIST
- My company management made
Since Day 1, I wanted to understand thoughts that go into making a decision. How to people arrive at big decisions? What parameters they use to evaluate? Do people follow up on a decision and revisit them later?
For every place I have worked at I have a note with important decisions taken by me/ other stakeholders.
When I learned something from the decisions/my follow up action items I would add them to my other lists (which I have mentioned below).
My hiring manager had told me once - Don’t learn from just your own mistakes/ successes. Have a bird eye view of the organisation. See how the CEO/ management/ senior managers make decisions. Learn from them.
Okay, that manager is @madhurchadha.
Lets move on to the other lists.
- SHAME LIST
All the screw ups I made as a PM/ employee.
This is the Shame List from my CouponDunia days. The number of fuckups and misses run pages. Years later I still cringe at how bad I was at my job. But I learned from my mistakes and improved as a PM over years.
Now think of such a list for every place I have worked at.
- LEARNINGS LIST
I turn my shame into learnings.
- FEEDBACK LIST
List of feedbacks I have got during my 1-1s as well as performance evaluation sessions.
This is one example of feedback I got from a developer during our 1-1. I learned that instead of focussing more on the product I was doing release/project management. Instead of focusing on the bigger picture I was getting to much into technical implementations.
1-1s can be a valuable source for feedback. Don’t be scared of asking for feedback. Be vulnerable. Look for 1-1s, retrospectives and even performance evaluations as a source of learning.
- MANAS 2.0
I know it is egoistic to call a list 2.0 of yourself. But it is a list of all the things I have learned + want to do in the future.
This is also a long list. I also had to relearn most of the lessons the hard way.
- DON’T DO
Self explanatory. Comes from 1-1s, Performance reviews, my own self evaluation. Things I want to avoid.
I try to do weekly self evaluations and reflect on how my life (both professional and personal) is going.
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- HOW TO BUILD PRODUCTS
A list of all the frameworks and learnings from my own experience + others (blogs/books etc).
Check out my frameworks post here: Product Management Principles & Frameworks.
- LOOP HABIT TRACKER
Once I identify habits I want to acquire or behaviours I want to let go off, I start tracking them on Loop Habit Tracker.
I open it every night before I go to sleep and evaluate my day.
Apart from all these, I try to read a lot.
Why make the same mistakes others have made and written about?