How does the dictionary define an “Aha moment?” It’s when you suddenly understand something, realize something important, have a good idea, or find the answer to a problem. What matters even more? The way you turn your “Aha moment” into opportunity.
We asked our product people: “What was the greatest “Aha moment” during your Product Management career?” Here’s what they say.
“Realizing early on in my career that the product manager is not the ‘mini-CEO’ as some of the product theory books tell you. The way to get things done was to inspire and motivate the engineering team I worked with was to create a compelling vision and value proposition that demonstrated how we were going to help meeting our customer’s needs. That – and donuts. I learned early on to always take donuts to planning sessions and retrospectives.”
Jonathan, Product Director
“When thinking about my greatest “Aha moments” over the course of 12 years in product management, I started searching my brain for that one incredible epiphany, but I failed to find it. I reflected on all the things I’ve read which have really stuck with me (everything from Clayton Christensen’s work on “Jobs To Be Done”, to Don Norman’s “Design of Every Day Things”). So, whilst I could sight a whole range of theoretical learnings, for me the real “Ahas” are more likely to be small evolutionary ones rather some epic eureka moments. As a product manager you must be in love with continuously learning. “Aha” mindset needs to be built into the product manager’s DNA.
One general “Aha” that I learned a long time ago from the best PM’s I’ve worked with. They all have one thing in common – they are excellent story tellers, which is a toolset I’m always looking to improve on. It’s such a critical and often overlooked skill which helps us to make sense of the complex products we work on. Stories also reach us on an emotional level, rather than analytical level, and these emotions propel us to act. That is why product people who do this well usually succeed in gathering support for the things they’re working on.
So overall I’d say my experience as a product manager has been a constant stream of micro-aha-moments rather than a few big ones.”
Luke, Senior Product Manager
“There is a myth. A good product manager is a product guru. A good product manager’s focus and expertise is the product. Why not, if the role speaks for itself – “product”? It also has been my understanding about product management for many years. For example, if the product is a car, you should know all about cars. Yet, knowing all the details about the product does not make you a good product manager.
Instead, a good product manager’s obsession should be the customer. What makes the person happy or sad? What problems customer is facing and trying to solve? What are his or her desires? So, shifting the focus from product to customer was my “Aha moment” back in the day. As a product manager I realized that the customer is more important than the product alone. Product is just a channel to solve the problem. A vehicle delivering value. Thus – always, always start with a customer!”
Zigmars, Product Manager
“My move to Product Management has been pretty recent, and I only properly found out about the role in the summer of 2020. I’d just finished 8 years working as a start-up CEO, doing the classic long hours, and wearing too many hats. I’d come away knowing with a burning certainty that there were some parts of the job that I never ever wanted to do again, but no clear idea about where I wanted to go next.
So, I sat down and finally had a think about what I enjoyed doing, what I wanted from a role, and what kind of company I wanted to work with. This led me down a rabbit hole of research, mind maps, and hassling people on LinkedIn, until I ended up speaking to a product manager. Their job sounded interesting, so I started more research, consuming online courses like a madman, and reading/watching everything I could about what PMs do.
So, the biggest “Aha moment” for me was probably finding out that the product manager role existed, and that I wanted to be one.”
Rory, Product Manager
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Sign up by June 1 here!