The Art of the Lazy Product Manager (by @Parulia)

via @medium «When you’re done, go take a nap. Call your mom (or your SO). If you insist on plugging back in, call a potential customer. Whatever you do, don’t build anything new — yet

…Gillian has been wrestling with how to prioritize the many directions she is being pulled in: by customers, salespeople, her Q&A team, and her engineers. Should they add a new product extension to target a new, possibly attractive, customer segment? Should they build an API so they can integrate with partners? Should they attack the backlog of feature requests from existing customers? Or, should they do all of the above at the same time (what her management team seems to prefer)?

…the Lazy Product Manager is not just about doing less. It’s about doing what’s strategic. And not being strategic has been the Achilles’ heel of many great product managers. It’s only when product management is aligned with market orientation that a product can truly succeed in the market. Above all, it’s only when you focus on doing less and doing what’s strategic, that you can focus on what will have the most impact.

…the 10 principles of the Lazy Product Manager:

  1. Ignore your customers. Yes, you still need to listen to them, but the Lazy Product Manager does not chase after every customer request. Instead, build the minimum feature set to keep them happy — and paying.
  2. Building less is more. It’s not more features, it’s the RIGHT features. How do I figure out the right features, you ask? Now you’re thinking. Start with this question…
  3. Validate your business, not just your product. This is where PMs and, well, everyone on the business side typically diverge. …remember that even the most detailed customer feedback session will not give you a business model. There is no “if I build it, they will buy.” …You must figure out whose urgent or actionable need your product solves. The earlier you sell, the higher your chances of figuring out if your product will do this for someone.…
  4. Don’t build, sell. Is this you: every time you face a sales objection, you build a new feature (or product line)?…When you’re just so good at building stuff, you sometimes can’t help yourself. But this is also why teams with too much A) product talent, B) engineering talent or C) money sometimes take too long to find a product market fit. …This is why salespeople sometimes make better PMs than career PMs.…
  5. Forced prioritization. …“What would be stupid for us not to do in the next 90 days?”…Here are all the reasons this is a great idea: A) less complexity, B) prioritization forces you to be strategic, C) that’s enough already.
  6. Step into the matrix. How do you decide which features to build among the gazillion requests? Start by classifying product features into engagement, revenue, utility and ease of use/delight. Build a matrix of requests organized by category… Once you do that, get your key stakeholders to agree on dollar values for each category (the Lazy Product Manager prefers numbers because there’s less arguing in meetings). …
  7. Own, don’t get owned by your tools. …Clarity, clarity, clarity! Aim for minimal communication (and minimal systems) beyond what you need to achieve it.
  8. Communicate like a 3-year-old. Preschoolers communicate with stories and numbers. Invest in learning how to speak data. …
  9. Copying is encouraged. …As long as it doesn’t hinder the product in some fundamental way, there are many areas where seeing what works and stealing it makes the most sense. …
  10. Admit failure (and move on). What are the signs of early product failure? No one is buying your product. No one is sharing it with their friends. Users are logging in and immediately logging back out again, never to return. The Type A product manager thinks: “It’s not you, it’s me? Can I get you some new features to convince you to stay?” Meanwhile, the Lazy Product Manager readily admits failure and moves onto the next product. … Remember not to watch the lips of your focus groups, watch their feet instead: what customers actually do in the wild.


Making the switch to the Lazy Product Manager’s way will not happen overnight. To get started, jot down your answers to three questions.

  1. What is strategic for your organization? Validating customer demand/a path to sales/product market fit? Growth: of customers/of partners/of revenue/along a specific dimension of engagement?

  2. What that you build will move the needle?

  3. What is your product team doing right now that won’t? (This is the toughest question: be honest!)