About The Book: #ProMa Product Management Tools, Methods and Some Off-the-wall Ideas

#ProMa Cover

Based on his popular blog, Dinker Charak brings a collection of tools, methodologies, and some unexpected approaches to Product Management. He also talks about his entrepreneurial journey from the eye of a Product Manager and discusses the strategy and its failures.

Available as Kindle eBook

Early Praise for #ProMa

Sriram Narayan Agile IT Org Design ProMa Dinker Charak
Dinker offers an enjoyable potpourri of helpful advice and ideas from his experience in consulting and his experiments with building products.

– Sriram Narayan, Digital-IT management consultant, ThoughtWorks & Author Agile IT Organization Design
Sriram Narayan Agile IT Org Design ProMa Dinker Charak
Dinker is a magician — in a crisp book that is light and easy to read, he has packed in more than a semester’s worth of high priced B school education, and several years (and many dollars!) worth of lessons from a startup. Pick it up, you will not be disappointed.

– Naren Nachiappan, Co-Founder, Jivox
Devangana Khokhar Gephi Cookbook ProMa Dinker Charak
A brilliant resource for all consultants, irrespective of the role they are in, and not just Product Managers. Dinker has poured his years of experience into this one book. He covers entire life cycle of a product/business evolution and introduces a lot of handy artifacts – checklists, frameworks, tools, etc. – that can be readily used at various stages of evolution. He sheds light on the real-life charms and challenges of building a product and does so in a simple yet eloquent manner. Keep an open mind and give this book a read – you’ll later on thank him for providing a wealth of knowledge on the topic.

– Devangana Khokhar, Senior Data Scientist & Strategist, ThoughtWorks & Author Gephi Cookbook
Dinker is quirky, interdisciplinary and full of real-world wisdom. The same could be said of this breezy new book on Product Management.

There are plenty of simple ProMa tools you can use every day – ‘Product in a Box’ and ‘Five buckets of Product Management’ stand out. There is also the philosophical exploration of the subject through lenses as varied as Indian materialism, Francis Bacon (he of the scientific method), and Rene Descartes. Most remarkably, there is a vivid tale of a failing startup – something any product entrepreneur will benefit from.

If you’re a product manager or work with these sometimes-mysterious creatures, take a copy on your next flight. You’ll have a spring in your step when you land.

– Nagarjun Kandukuru, Principal Digital Strategist, ThoughtWorks
"Who is my customer? Everybody, anyone you can think of—"

"Who is my competition? Amazon, Google, Netflix— (add any popular name in the Silicon Valley)."

"Who am I? I am a technology company who happens to do X (the industry this company should be in, till I probably walked in)."

This is what I keep hearing from the C-Suite at the clients I am engaged with.

In this world of needing and wanting to reinvent (or else—you are doomed), the most common response I have seen people resort to is by saying we have moved to a "product organisation" or an "experience organisation". This, no one will argue, needs change.

However, Dinker continues to argue that the challenges lie in the core philosophy. It’s not an easy journey. I can guarantee you will fail if you thought reading this book will solve the challenges of "product thinking".

But here lies a great starting point from a great product philosopher, thinker, transformer, doer and practitioner, and above all, a great colleague and a friend.

Read on, but engage with him when you get a chance. He will not fail to surprise you.

– Sagar Paul, Client Services – Strategic Accounts, at ThoughtWorks

Why the Book #ProMa and Why Now?

Product Management is an accidental and a new role. It is gaining importance as a pivotal for a Product based business. Being new, there are no set definitions, job descriptions or even well-known educational courses. In fact, in IT industry, Product Managers come from the most diverse set of background and may not always be technical or even have an MBA.

As opportunities for Product Managers grow, it is natural that consulting organization start offering this as a consulting role. This increases the complexity of the job.

As the role evolves, all this leave a new-comer with lots of questions about how to go about the job.

This book is based on the real and personal experience of being in this role in a variety of situations and draw upon the experience and output of last decade. Thus, the book also presents an opportunity to establish some Thought Leadership in this domain.

About the Book #ProMa

“Based on his popular blog, Dinker Charak brings a collection of tools, methodologies, and some unexpected approaches to Product Management. He also talks about his entrepreneurial journey from the eye of a Product Manager and discusses the strategy and its failures.”

Each chapter is complete in itself and focused on a specific theme. Some chapters may rely on concepts introduced in details in a previous chapter. However, a reader can still benefit from it without know details from the earlier chapters.

Some ideas are results of extended discussions, an opinion sought or a point-of-view constructed for a client. All of them are the result of sincere effort to produce something useful and usable. And at times, something unique.

The book is divided into three sections.

The first section (chapters 1-6) is about various tools & methods I have created and used for Product Management. These include the Product Management Canvas and the Product workshops I run.

The second section (chapters 7-18) is about various thoughts and ideas that I have around what it means to be a Product Managers and around Product Management.

The third section (chapters 19-26) is about entrepreneurship and based on my experience as a founder who hasn’t succeeded yet. It also has some ideas on team building, mainly around a novel concept of Dirty-Work Group.

Key Takeaway from the Book #ProMa

The book covers the entire lifecycle of a product/business evolution and introduces a lot of handy artifacts - checklists, frameworks, tools, etc. - that can be readily used at various stages of evolution.

There are plenty of practical ProMa tools you can use every day and also the philosophical exploration of the subject through lenses as varied as Indian materialism, Francis Bacon (he of the scientific method), and Rene Descartes and Sociology.

Who is the Target Audience For the Book #ProMa

The First Timer:

Has a tech, business or design background. Is now a Product Manager for a B2C product. Is poly-skilled enough to get the job but worried if is knowledgeable to pull it along.

An Experienced ProMa:

Has been a ProMa in an Enterprise that is building a B2B product. Has done MBA and/or has a technical background. With the expectation of B2B products to respond to market at speed of startups and with Usability of B2C products, is looking for ideas on how to reinvent the attitude towards this job.

An Entrepreneur / Founder:

Realising that a Founder is the first Product Manager of the startup’s Product, the Founder wants to ensure a proper approach is taken and not detail falls through the cracks and is looking for tools and checklists to ensure all basis are covered.

Business Folks:

ProMa help monetise a business opportunity via a Product. For key business owners, it is important to understand what a ProMa does and how does a ProMa think. This book can help them understand the variety of aspects of a ProMa, gain a better appreciation and establish meaning and deep partnerships.

About the Author of the Book #ProMa

#ProMa Author Dinker Charak

Dinker Charak has over 17 years of rich, diverse experience in the software industry building products that matter.

During his career, he has built software products that have been part of Real-time Operating Systems, Paperless Offices, Home Automation, help develop Online Video Ads business and founded a startup. Dinker was worked at Fermilab (US) and contributed to CERN (Switzerland), two top research lab that conducts basic research into particle physics. He holds a patent in Advertising Technology.

As personal interests go, Dinker holds Product Management Workshops for startups in collaboration with IIM Ahmedabad, CIIE, NASSCOM's 10,000 Startups and ThoughtWorks.

Dinker has done Master in Computer Application from International Institute of Professional Studies, Devi Ahilya University, Indore, India.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/ddiinnxx

Blog: http://www.ddiinnxx.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dinkeratwork

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dinkercharak/

Professional Profile: https://www.thoughtworks.com/profiles/dinker-charak

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/ddiinnxx

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_IUZYlwwD4F1ZZ_BKU7FD3ll0BJS7rBr

Design Dissonance in TataSky UPI Integration

Design Dissonance Tata Sky UPI

When we choose to pay via UPI, the payments section of TataSky (website) says the merchant says TATASKY.

Design Dissonance TataSky UPI Website

However, when we open the BHIM app (iOS, Android), the pending payment request is from IndiaIdeas.

Design Dissonance TataSky UPI Bhim

This made me think twice if this was same request. Creates suspicion & looks cheap jugaad. Guess the IndiaIdeas team is promoting its brand over TataSky’s User Experience expense.

Design Dissonance in Music and Podcast Apps on iPhone

Design Dissonance Podcast Music App Play Button Location iPhone

I am among the millions of Apple’s iOS Music App and Podcast App users. I am certainly not only one who struggles with the design dissonance in their app. Here are my top 2 rants:

Design Dissonance in Location of Play Button

Design Dissonance Podcast Music App Play Button Location iPhone

The Play buttons are in opposite positions. I always have to look and think where to click. This does not allow for muscle memory for someone using both apps very frequently. What happened to “Don’t Make Me Think“?

Feature Disparity

Design Dissonance Podcast App iPhone Sleep

Podcast app provides two extremely useful features:

  • Sleep
  • 15 second skip forward or skip back

None of these are there in the Music app. Folks often go to sleep listening to music (a la Podcast) and need this function. Everybody like to revisit that beat or the clever wordplay. So skip back is a cool and useful feature to have.

Product Management Failure

Both cases are symptoms of failure of Product Managers.

It is as if the Product Managers of Podcast App and Music App don’t talk to each other or don’t like each other enough not to learn from each other.

It is also the failure of the Product Manager of Apple’s App not to drive Design Cohesion across the app that Apple builds.

Design Dissonance in Google Ventures’ Website – My Opinions

Design Dissonance Google Ventures Bach

I often visit GV‘s (erstwhile Google Ventures) website. On a recent visit, I encountered a noticed some design dissonance. It was surprising as they say the website is “This site is hand-crafted by GV.”

Here is what I mean by design dissonance:

Setting The Tone

Design Dissonance Google Ventures 1

The tone of design, layout, navigation and content sorting is set in the home page of their library. Look good! On a site that has tons of content, they have decided that trending on Medium is the order in which they will show the content. Great.

GV is known for its contribution to Design and so that is the first collection I hit!

Design Dissonance Begins

Design Dissonance Google Ventures 5

Suddenly I am in your typical ‘Blog’ template. Didn’t expect that. Not much of a surprise, though. Why not use the power of blogging platform. Some things that jump out:

  • The awesome picture of a mountain range and nice green slash, and
  • Missing Home from the top menu

Anyway, I back and for the next section, Product Management.

And It Continues

Design Dissonance Google Ventures 6

Suddenly, the mountain is gone, but the Home has appeared!

However, the Home takes me to the Blog home rather than the GV’s home. Moving on to another section, Sprints.

Continues But Does Not Jar

When I reach the Design Sprint, I am taken to a whole new layout:

Design Dissonance Google Ventures 1

Given the content is a whole new thinking, the new layout does not jar. In fact, it is a good way to set the tone that Design Sprint is a world of its own.

But Then

As soon as we move to Research Sprint:

Design Dissonance Google Ventures 1

We are taken to a Blog post. The content deserves more than a Blog post link and given how Design Sprint was done, this feels like a letdown.

What’s Wrong?

So, here is the list of things that are not right and leading to the dissonance:

  1. Library home page has content sorted in some order. That order is not followed in rest of sections
  2. Rest of sections point to a blog unexpectedly
  3. As they point to various different layouts of blog, they layout between various sections changes unexpectedly
  4. Once you reach blog area, no navigation takes you to the website
  5. Given it is highlighted as a hand-crafted website, these things should have taken care of. Hand-crafted implies attention to details to make sure they are consistent and not dissonant due to underlying differences

Suggested Fixes

  1. Crux of issues are due to how the blog is mixed with the main website
  2. Navigation in blog need to be consistent and allow for moving to GV’s home
  3. When linking to blog, link to similar layouts/templates
  4. Avoid Library link on GV.com linking to an intermediate page and rather go directly to library.gv.com
Feature image: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Product Thinking – UX Design + Product Management + Business Model

Before we start on Product Thinking, it will be good to understand what a Product is.

Product is something that is the result of a process.

Now, in software world, how does this apply. Let us see:

Product is something that is result of a software process.

This is better. However, is Design (Experience Design, etc) a software process? Not really. However, it is a process in itself. So, an updated definition then:

Product is something that is result of a design & software process.

Better. However, I am of the opinion that a product without a business model is neither sustainable nor a solution.

So, let us add that to the mix.

Product is something that is result of a design & software process and has a business model.

OK, there! Now we proceed to Product Thinking.

Product Thinking

Here is it in one diagram:

Product Thinking

Product Thinking is not the process of product creation itself. It is thinking of the product along with the whole ecosystem. The ecosystem is often a combination of:

  • Target Audience
  • Problem
  • Strategy
  • Objective / Vision / Goal
  • Features
  • User Experience
  • User Environment
  • Process of Making
  • Revenues

Based on Product Management Canvas, we can defined Product Thinking as:

Building on the value your customers will need to achieve business goals measured using related success and failure metrics with providing well designed experience using a well-defined go-to-market strategy and support.

Note: Need v/s Will Need

You will notice, I said ‘will need’ rather than ‘need’. Lot of innovations anticipate a need to create a new one. So, to acknowledge that, a ‘will’ has been added.

Note: Platforms v/s Channels

Platforms (backend, APIs, multi-tenancy, etc) benefit from System Centric design (eg: System Thinking) while Channels (apps, websites, devices, kiosks, etc) which humans interact with benefit from User Centric design (eg: Design Thinking).

Reference

https://designyourthinking.com/product-thinking-an-introduction/
https://medium.com/@jaf_designer/why-product-thinking-is-the-next-big-thing-in-ux-design-ee7de959f3fe
http://www.ddiinnxx.com/shuhari-learn-digress-transcend/
https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/product-thinking-is-problem-solving
https://www.devbridge.com/articles/product-thinking-build-what-your-customer-needs/

 

Our Children and The Digital Future – A Manifesto

Our Children And The Digital Future

[Note: Author is creator of Roo Kids App, an Instant Messaging app for children where parents have access to the contacts and always know who the kid is chatting with.]

Easing Children into Real World

As automobiles started to became a commonplace on the roads, parents started teaching their children how to cross a road. Our schools started talked about safety habits around the roads. School buses added STOP sign, so traffic could give way to a kid crossing the road.

The Digital Future

Digital future is inevitable and some argue we are already there. As the 4th Industrial Revolution rolls in, how do we ease and educate our kids into such a world?

Not Just The Parents

No, it is not the responsibility of just the parents. It is everybody’s concern. Especially those who are involved in creation of products (including startup founders who are re-inventing the world). Will it be easy for kids to step into this re-invented world? Or, will they stumble and fall prey to it?

Manifesto For Children Inclusive Digital Future

We (Startup Founders, Product Managers, Product Designers, Product Business Managers, Technologist) are developing products and helping others do it while keeping children in mind.

Through this work we have come to value:

  • Products that provide an overlap of safety oversight & digital access over products that are command-control tools or promote digital ignorance

[Rather than building products that isolate tech or isolate kids, we will build products that 1/ expose enough for kids to learn & explore and 2/ provide tools to provide sufficient oversight to maintain safety.]

  • Products that consider incidental or accidental use by children over products that assume otherwise

[Never assume that a child will not incidentally or accidentally access our product. Have we considered that in our design, implementation and usage guidelines? Responsibility towards children is not restricted to products created for children.]

  • Products that respect individuality, intelligence and privacy of a child over products that make stereotypic generalization like age ranges, gender, etc.

[Standardization makes sense when we can’t customize at scale. Digital products allow for customization and personalization at large scale. Digital products should adapt to a child and present a match but without violation of privacy and then providing for sufficient anonymity. Privacy also includes providing children enough space where they are assured privacy in context of parents too but always within a safe space.]

That is, while there was value in the items on the right in early days of digital evolution, we value the items on the left more.

Inspired by the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and Roo Kids App. Picture Credit: Wikimedia.org.

Manifesto For Children Inclusive Digital Future. We are developing products and helping others do it while keeping children in mind. Through this work we have come to value: Products that provide an overlap of safety oversight & digital access over products that are command-control tools or promote digital ignorance, Products that consider incidental or accidental use by children over products that assume otherwise, Products that respect individuality, intelligence and privacy of a child over products that make stereotypic generalization like age ranges, gender, etc. That is, while there was value in the items on the right in early days of digital evolution, we value the items on the left more. Inspired by the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and Roo Kids App.