Product Management Lessons Straight from 221b Baker Street
By Arijit Banerjee
Product life is full of whimsical findings, as every product manager would agree. The ups and downs in a product lifecycle hold cues only a discerning eye can see. Part mathematics and part magic, product management is a trade one learns with time, but some lessons may require you to wear the detective’s hat and follow the clues, that many product mangers see, but never observe.
So, here are a few product management lessons from under the spy glass of Sherlock Homes, which will allow you to uncover some interesting product management strategies.
Product management today is synthesizing information in to action in real time. In a real-world scenario, this requires a lot of communication and feedback. Project management is as much about the environment as it is about the product.
Look into the finer details
Good product management begins with knowing your customers intimately and understanding their behavior and needs on a granular level.
Sherlock for example looked at John Watson’s walking style, and within a few seconds, was able to conclude that he was an army veteran! It is such attention to detail that makes him stand out.
Similarly, the best products make the customers realize what they really needed. The customers in turn endorse the product themselves if their true needs are properly identified and met.
Key point: Be curious about the minutest things that your customers say about your product if it helps you to better their product experience.
Keep track of the case at all times
A product lifecycle in its growth state is very dynamic. It’s easy for things to go erratic and all the involved teams like development, design or marketing may lose sight of the goal.
Also, as brilliant as Sherlock is, he too pins up all the elements of evidence on his pin board, and tries to connect the dots. This ensures that he doesn’t miss out on any aspect of the case.
Similarly, Roadmapping is a great tool to provide a better view of both macro and micro goals and help all the teams work in rhythm. Right from phrasing the elevator pitch to locking the feature release date, all actions and information related to the product cycle can be accessed through a well drafted roadmap.
Collect clues, and use them wisely
In one of Sherlock’s most interesting cases, he is tasked with unlocking a phone which contains precious data related to the British royal family. This posed a huge challenge, as the password could have been anything. The passkey went by the following format: “I’m _ _ _ _ LOCKED”.
The lady criminal was actually with Sherlock the whole time, and Sherlock recollected the facts from their meetings. Her pupils were dilated, she was blushing, and her pulse rate was elevated. So Sherlock realized that she was infatuated with him, and added up the data he had collected in his mind. The password you ask? It was “I’m SHER –LOCKED”.
Also, collecting customer data is of no help if it cannot be used to gain valuable insights. Use Metrics, online channels, customer feedback, market response, sales fluctuations and other factors to look beyond the most obvious reasons, cross check on each parameter to test the validity of your customer data findings. Ruling out gut feel with logical reasoning can help you fine tune your marketing strategies with confidence for maximum profits. Big data analytics certification training course can help one understand and handle customer data better.
Spring surprises to stay ahead of your competition
Once Moriarty, who is Sherlock’s arch enemy, had surrounded Sherlock and John Watson with multiple sniper rifles. What did Sherlock do you ask? He had a surprise up his sleeve. He aimed his handgun at the explosive vest which was put on John by Moriarty! This was an unexpected move for Moriarty, and he had to retreat.
The digital era allows for a very short first mover’s advantage. Customers are inherently wired to stay with a product that gives them newer experiences. It’s rewarding for a brand to add a little mystery and zing regularly about their product. By upgrading your product experience you can keep your customers hooked.
All in all, Product management is a constant learning process, and if you’re hoping to become the next great product manager, you can certainly learn from Sherlock’s ability to look at the finer details, and think outside the box