– Nishant Pandey, SVP, Product Management, Naukri.com
The Changing face of Internet Product Management: Becoming dispensable, Becoming invisible.
The founders are the first Product Managers in an internet product venture. But as the product scales
up and becomes more personalized for each user and for multiple use-cases, it becomes more complex.
The product begins to have more pages, algorithms, user-flows and numerous communication touch
points to engage with users (on-site, on mobile, through blogs, via emails etc). The tentacles of the
product spread wider and deeper. The number of teams and stakeholders involved increase too. Soon
enough, no one person knows everything about the Product, and no one person knows best what to do
next – especially in the Internet where technologies, devices, design philosophies, sales strategies and
business drivers change frequently.
Enter, the Product Management team.
Product Managers will not know everything either, but they are like transparent conductors of
information and decisions connecting multiple teams in an organization. The less Product Managers
hold on to, the lesser the resistance they offer to the information they conduct, thereby leading to
faster and better decision making. How can the Product Management team reduce its resistance? The
best way is to continually put all that they know on the table, and ask others to do the same. It is like
their job is to ask three questions everyday to the other stakeholders: “This is what all I know. Is there
anything else we need to know? How can we make it better? Who else do we need to involve to make
In effect, Product Managers should share relentlessly and frequently, so that there hardly is any
knowledge that the Product Manager knows that the others don’t. This cross-pollinates ideas, sparks
innovation and fosters collaboration in the organization. And that happens best when the Product
Management team works hard at making itself dispensable everyday.
But then, there is more.
Better decision making does not automatically follow from mere information exchange. It has to be
catalyzed well by Product Managers. That is achieved by, among other things, proactively interpreting
information from data, preparing actionable presentations, conducting effective meetings, managing
stakeholders for buy-ins, prioritizing projects, and breaking projects down into smaller problems that
are chewable by Engineering, Design and QA – so that the challenge is such that all stakeholders are
involved in the decision, and get to operate at their peak levels of their contribution and motivation.
Just like a great product is one so smooth and intuitive that it seems there was no effort put in to make
it, catalyzing decisions can be so swift that taking them seems effortless. If the Product Manager lays a
good ground, in the end it may seem that the Product Manager was not even required for the decision.
As internet product companies in India move towards maturity and complexity, their Product
Management teams may well operate in a way that brings innovation, collaboration, contribution and
motivation to the forefront, while they themselves blends into the background – appearing to become
dispensable and invisible.