Using Product Management Canvas for Your Product

Using Product Management Canvas Product

Your organisation

Your org is one among these:

1) A startup or an SME company. Hopefully there is not much of hierarchy and ‘Individual Contributors’ in how most of you describe yourself.

2) A startup or a stable mid-sized org that is scaling up. You have great ‘Individual Contributors’ and a set of senior folks who make sure the ICs are focused on their efforts and are cared for well.

3) You are a large org or an enterprise that is managing BAU and seeking innovations via multiple smaller initiatives. There are processes in place to ensure that the right folks have the right authority to decide regarding what they an accountable for.

Now, things are never ideal. But let us assume that you are in an excellent organisation.

Your Role

Based on the organisation you are in, you may be playing the role of a Founder, Product Owner, Product Manager, Solution Manager, Program Manager or a GM of a Product Line. Whatever the scale of your role, you are responsible for delivering a product that brings profitability and repute to your organisation.

Your Mission

Many tools are available for you to accomplish your job. However, communicating the Why, the key capabilities and the adoption path of the product will always remain the key pieces of information you will need to communicate far, wide and deep within year organisation.

There is enough talk of evangelisation of the product in the market. However, there is equal and important need to evangelise within your org. This communication has to be simple, crisp and easily digestible.

No product is developed in isolation. It is a journey from conceptualisation to development, to release to usage to monetisation and finally for re-invention or sunset. Many groups and departments come into the picture.

This is where the Product Management Canvas comes in.

Your Product Management Canvas

Product Management Canvas is a tool to articulate your product, describing the key elements that should be known far, wide and deep among your team.

Product Management Canvas (PMC)

You will notice, this Canvas makes you articulate the Idea behind it, the market it addresses, customer segment within that market, business value it delivers, features and capabilities, metrics and makes you aware of all the collaterals that you should have handy and linked to. Finally, it will hold you honest and reduce excessive optimism by making you state various risks.

All this in one page / slide / canvas. This single page becomes the communication about your product to all of the org far, wide and deep. Share it via email, hang on the wall where your team sits and or even print it on a team T-Shirt. Once you have this articulation, you can share the why, the key capabilities and the adoption path of your product in a crisp and readable format.

Wishing your product success!

More About Product Management Canvas

Product Management Canvas – Product in a Snapshot

Hackathon: From Idea to a Product in a Day

Download Product Management Canvas (pdf)



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:

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.

One Degree of Separation

warofga art

Startups are exciting!


Everyone believes so. But what is that’s so exciting about a Startup? You can almost use this question as a Rorschach Test to find out what is lacking in their career now.

Everyone has something they feel/think is great about startups: the transparency, lack of bureaucracy, connect with client, knowledge about vital stats of an org, flat hierarchy, ability to control your own fate within org, see effects of your contribution, struggle to find answers for basic questions like how will the org make money, fact that we own the problem and not blame others, so on and so forth.

The Other Side!


While we tend to get enamoured by the opportunities startups throws at us, the other side is hardly discussed. Something that all entrepreneurs surrender to, live through and ultimately succumb to. But that is a conversation for another day.

The One Degree Separation  


One thing that startups offer (and is root cause of many things exciting about it) is that founders and early employees are just one degree away from the consequences of their work/decision.

They know revenue generated, cost incurred, potential and compromises, success first hand and what product/decision caused that.

There is no alienation from the consequences of the product they produce.

So What?


This is one thing large Enterprises and Software Services company specially can adopt/imbibe from startups world:

One Degree of Separation from the consequences of our work.

Once we are aware of the consequences of our work, finding, owning and solving problems will be self-motivated. If we are are not aware, we will continue to be a cog in the wheel that is unaware of its importance.

Also, Software Services companies work with a clients on a product/project. They are inherently always few degree away from the consequences of their work. At times the department they work with (example Engineering), itself is few degrees away from the department which faces the final consequences of the work (example Support).

So This Means?


With each degree of separateness, the context, sense-of-ownership, the awareness for value delivered decreases exponentially.

So, What Next?

In order to adopt/imbibe this key lesson, the challenge is how to be one degree separate from the consequences of the work. That can be best answered by the organisation itself.


Note: Images are owned by respective copyright holders and hyperlinked to the source.

Are Startups a MVP for Maslow Hierarchy?


What’s a MVP?

MVP has features just enough to prove a value and justify continued development.

mvp minimum viable product

We have all seen this. The MVP cuts across the value hierarchy and delivers a bit of each level.

What’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs*?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.


We have all seen this. The theory stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs, and that some needs take precedence over others. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.

Startups and Maslow’s Hierarchy

One reason why startup excites us is that in one go it satisfies each of these needs. A la how the MVP cuts across the value hierarchy and delivers a bit of each level.


While they may not pay a lot, the basic needs are covered. There is a strong sense of belongingness to the startup and each other. The awe and aura of being a entrepreneur boost the esteem. Finally, the opportunity to create a business, a brand, make difference is ultimate realisation of personal potential.


Startups represent that thin vertical slice across Maslow Hierarchy making it an MVP for it. That explains the fascination with it. This insight can be used by other orgs to create avenues for employees to have same experience with leaving to start a startup.


* There are bunch of criticism and changes to this theory. But this idea is applicable still 🙂

The Most Memorable of Teams


Six Characteristics of an Effective and Memorable Team

Few weeks ago, I was at an off-site meeting. As part of warm up exercise, all attendees were ask to talk about their most memorable team experience.

As I took notes, a pattern began to emerge. Following characteristic came up again and again:

  1. Laser focus on execution

  2. Coming together of different personalities

  3. Lack of clear direction

  4. Do or Die situations

  5. There to create something

  6. Knew their strengths and limitations

So looks like if diversity, ambiguity on how to achieve the goals, focus, do/die, clear purpose for the team and for team-members are present, it is a memorable experience.

One more thing to note: not all projects were success. The products/projects may have failed, but the participants felt the teams were at their possible best.

This raises some interesting questions:

  • If such conditions are created, will any team become highly effective?
  • Or, is this non-commutative?


Image: Bernard Goldbach

Financial Services Startups Hackathon at CIIE, IIM Ahmedabad


Participated in Day 1 of Financial Services Startups Hackathon. This hackathon was conducted by Centre For Innovation, Incubation & entrepreneurship (CIIE) at IIM, Ahmedabad.

From their website:

Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship was setup at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) with support from Gujarat Government and Department of Science and Technology (Government of India) to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in India.

Me and fellow ThoughtWorker Shaun Jayaraj  did the Business Modelling session. We used the Business Model Canvas for this session.

It was a long, tiring bit wonderful day. Interacted with founders of around 8 startups and answered their questions. Many were focused on rural markets and served underprivileged. This made the sessions richer!

Did a small session on Product Management too. This was the first time I introduced Product Management Canvas to startups. The response was positive. Though there we quiet some questions around it.

Failing Since 2012 – S01E05


Previously on ‘Failing Since 2012’ S01 E01E02E03 & E04, Dinker Charak, Founder of Roo Kids app, talked about how his startup ended up creating & supporting 23 products, purged some products to bring the count to 7 and realized even 7 was a lot. Now read on …

Failing. Not failed!

The Second Purge (Early 2015)

7 products. Each a whole start-up in itself. Small team. Limited resources. 

This meant only one thing: Go all in on one of these, drop rest and not to get distracted by any more spin-off & focus.

Finding Our Sunday Passion

So which product should we choose from 7? One we would love to work on even on a Sunday and whose growth will give us a reason to celebrate on weekends?

We went back to our earlier method that I had described in Episode 3.

The Analysis

We dropped the criteria for which all 7 were doing well. We chose following 7 factors to score each product. One with maximum score would win!

1. Virality: We defined virality as growth driven by a user where they had to bring other users to the product / platform for it to be of use. Eg: If I download Skype to chat with friends, I have to ensure that those friends also download Skype, register and add me as friend so we can chat. And those new users would bring in others.

2. SEO: Can the product benefit from SEO and how easy will it be to search-engine optimize it.

3. Clear Pain Point: Does this product solve a very obvious pain point? A yes is preferable.

4. Monetizability: How easy is to monetize this product using existing models like ads, subscription, etc.

5. Uniqueness: Do we stand out among other offerings in Kid’s app market? While first mover advantage was not something we sought, some degree of uniqueness is was preferred.

6. Global Market: We wanted to reach out to global markets. As we are based in India, it is a market of interest for us. Indians prefer to be on Global platforms. A quick look at top apps in any B2C (non-ecommerce) category quickly confirms this. So if we did well globally, we would automatically do well in India.

7. No User-Customer Conflict: I have talked about User-Customer conflict inEpisode 1. This conflict is very evident in Kids’ products. The users are the kids and the customers are the parents. It is a tight rope to walk while balancing interests and ROI for both.

Below is the result of the analysis:


So, Roo Kids it was!

Roo Kids

The first thing we had to decide was which device to target first. We had learnt the lesson to not go all out till we get sufficient feedback from the market.

Our studies showed that while Phones were personal devices, the iPad gets passed around in the home most. It was replacing the Home PC as the default family device. So we targeted it first.

Once iPad version was out, we were able to reuse the code to add iPhone layout and release an iPhone/iPod version.

Android took time to start. We were seeing enough traction, usage and feedback from iOS versions. But as soon as things stablized, we released an Android version.

We got lot of requests to add Kindle Fire support. Many parents had bought it and the device had a strong reputation for being child-safe. With some changes (In-app purchase, notification, gathering device token, etc), we reused the Android code and released the Kindle version.

How’s Roo Kids Doing?

The app has been out for enough time for us to know if our analysis was right. Is it what the analysis promised it to be? Let’s see:

This includes messages sent to another user, message sent to canned-response chatbots like Echo, Puzzle, Science for Ages 8/9, stickers, images and doodles.

Stat commonly used to measure active users on Social Networks and Messaging apps. Number of unique users who have used the app at least once in a month.

These stats look very encouraging. The analysis was right and it was a good call to go all-in on Roo Kids.

Encouraged by user response, we are now expanding Roo Kids products to include some cool features and become default safe social for kids.

We are also fundraising and welcome all interest / queries from investors.

The next article will be a season finale of sorts where I will discuss lessons learnt that other startup (in general) and startups for kids (in particular) will hopefully find useful.


Originally posted on LinkedIn (E01, E02, E03, E04, E05, Startup Lessons) and Roo Kids App blog as a single post here