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

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)



7 Reasons Why Your Product Will Fail

7 Reasons Why Your Product Will Fail

Seven things your users think that will cause your product to fail

  1. “I don’t like it”
  2. “I don’t even want it”
  3. “I don’t even know how to use it”
  4. “I am happy with what I have”
  5. “I don’t want to pay for it”
  6. “No one else is using it”
  7. “I don’t trust it”

And what things you can do to over come this

Follow the deck to see where you can use techniques like:

  1. Rapid Prototyping
  2. Wire-Frames
  3. Reference Products (X of Y for Z)
  4. Gap Analysis
  5. USP Identification
  6. Product Definition
  7. Experience Design
  8. User Interface
  9. Habit Building
  10. Empathy Maps
  11. Product Migration
  12. Product Marketing
  13. Product Pricing
  14. User Research
  15. Business Models
  16. Go To Market
  17. Product Marketing
  18. Product Branding
  19. Product Support
  20. Product Reviews
  21. User Psychology


SlideShare: https://www.slideshare.net/ddiinnxx/7-reasons-why-your-software-will-fail

SpeakerDeck: https://speakerdeck.com/ddiinnxx/7-reasons-why-your-software-will-fail


Smart Cities – Every Adventure Requires A First Step

Smart Cities Every Adventure Requires First Step

A Product Manager opens up a bar but decided not to sell alcohol. “I noticed people come to bars and talk talk talk. Alcohol is just something they like to hold in their hand.”

All were shocked.

“Anyway, getting a liquor license is hard. And, I had to start somewhere.”


Remember when everything was ‘e-‘? Then everything was ‘i’? And, now we have ‘smart’.

However, they are all same. They use the technology of the day to bring in efficiency and effectiveness. How successful they were is a matter of debate. But with each iteration, the scope has increased. The scope of ‘smart’ is now being labeled as transformative.

In the imagination of any city dweller in India, the picture of a smart city contains a wish list of infrastructure and services that describes his or her level of aspiration. (smartcities.gov.in)

That is interesting. However, today conversations around Smart Cities are all about IoT, ICT, etc. We had to start somewhere. But this is not where we want the conversation to end.

“You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret all the best people are.” – Alice in Wonderland

Smart Cities in its current hyped-up form may be bonkers of an idea, but it has a great opportunity to be best of an idea. All we have to do is step out of the IoT/ICT box.

I have found the concepts of Canvas, Frameworks, Modifying Frameworks, etc a very useful way to force self to think in a certain structured way and not lose track of big pictures. So naturally, I proceeded to create a framework for a Smart City.

But first I wanted to have a definition to start with.

Smart City – Definition

A smart city is not necessarily a digital city. Nor is it applicable to mega-cities or metropolitan cities only. Any city can become a smart city. This can be accomplished via retrofitting, re-development or greenfield development.

An aspirational definitional is not what a smart city is. Rather, what a smart city does. It should aim for and work towards this 9-point balance:




Human Framework

Tech Framework

Institutional Framework

Smart City Grid – Examples

“Alice: This is impossible.
The Mad Hatter: Only if you believe it is.”

– Alice in Wonderland

I tried filling this up based on Smart City conversations I encountered. Especially ones that were critical about something being ignored. This is what I have today:

Smart Cities 3x3 Grid

If this framework is followed to guide a Smart City, we will surely have a city that uses technology to serve the people.

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.

Product Hackathon – Idea to Product – Nov 5th 2016


In line with earlier workshops in

based on the one day ‘Idea Hackathon: From An Idea to A Product’, we held one more this weekend on 5th Nov, 2016.

The agenda was:


Based on the request of the participant, we had a discussion on the role of ProMa. I used the attached deck.

The workshop was attended by Sudeep Kumar, Pradeep Kumar, Ashwini Chiplunkar, Jawahar D, Jincen Easo Mathew and ThoughtWorkers Kiran M, Mark Gonsalves, Kartik Kannan and Sharath Satish.

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.