Escaping the Build Trap | Melissa Perri

Summary of: Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value
By: Melissa Perri

Introduction

Embark on a journey with ‘Escaping the Build Trap’ and discover the key to unlocking customer value through effective product management. This book summary provides insights into how companies often inadvertently fall into the ‘build trap’ – focusing on output instead of customer outcomes. By revealing the importance of a product-led approach, you’ll learn to prioritize solving customers’ problems and create products that drive real value. Along the way, explore the pitfalls of sales-led and visionary-led models, and understand the significance of embracing customer feedback, aligning organizational priorities, and developing robust product strategies.

The Build Trap

Marquetly’s focus on technology and output instead of customer outcomes led to the “build trap.” Insistence on meeting management’s unreasonable demands resulted in bypassing client feedback, producing features that interfered with customer goals. The company struggled to retain customers as its growth declined since senior managers prioritized revenue over adding value. Effective product management necessitates optimizing value for the business and its customers.

The Build Trap

A product is a means to deliver value, and “sales-led” organizations prioritize product development based on sales promises rather than customer satisfaction. In contrast, “product-led” companies prioritize customer success, solve problems, and achieve sustainable outcomes. The visionary-led model, exemplified by Apple’s Steve Jobs, is unsustainable because it depends on one person. To avoid the “build trap,” where outputs are valued over outcomes, companies should focus on the needs of both the business and its clients to determine priorities.

The art of product management

An effective product manager must identify and investigate both known and unknown areas related to product development. While known unknowns can be established through information collection, unimagined possibilities or “unknown-unknowns” require a receptive approach to innovation. Product development must focus on the clients’ needs, and challenging assumptions is critical in avoiding costly mistakes. A product manager must also prioritize internal stakeholder feedback and not solely rely on external feedback from customers. Dictating to a product development team leads to failure, so it’s essential to listen to all team members and seek evidence that challenges one’s opinions. By creating a strategic context for product development efforts and focusing on a product’s value, a product manager can effectively guide a product development team towards success.

Mastering Product Management

A product manager should be tech-literate, not tech-fluent. They should take a holistic view to determine how the product can bring revenue to the company and solve customer’s problems. This includes solving client’s inconvenience and minimizing the need for any personal visit. The product owner’s role is not the same as the product manager. While the product owner manages the production backlog, the product manager defines and measures value, assesses market success, answers important questions, and identifies solutions to customer’s issues. It is essential to have a clear understanding of these roles to ensure efficient product management.

Building a Coherent Product Strategy

A Product Strategy is essential for companies to understand their value stream. To be successful, companies should follow the trail starting at the customer’s end and consider touch-points that can increase value and accelerate delivery. Having a strong product leader in the C-Suite is critical to becoming product-led.
Netflix is an excellent example of a company with a coherent and aligned vision, strategy, and activities. Even though they halted a device that would plug into television sets and spun the project off, they managed to partner with Microsoft to make Netflix available on Xbox. Small size only helps prioritize critical tasks.

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