View profile

Playing poker at the big table, PMs having access to the code, being the first PM at a startup & more!

One Knight in Product newsletter
One Knight in Product newsletter
Hello everyone 👋
Here’s your regular reminder that product management terminology and book talk is all well and good, but it’s very unlikely to win you any admirers outside of the product team. Draw a line between the best product thinking and actual business success; your CEO will thank you for it!
New podcast episode
In my latest One Knight in Product podcast episode I spoke to the legendary design thought leader Andy Budd about his storied career as a founder and design consultant, as well as his more recent work helping set early stage startups up for success through good design principles. It was a genuinely thought-provoking chat, which you can check out here.
Next up (tomorrow) will be B2B product guru Daniel Elizalde, who’ll be talking about his new book “The B2B Innovator’s Map”. Subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss it!
Should PMs have access to code repos & databases?
This was an interesting question I saw posed on Twitter recently by a PM at an early stage startup. I always smile when I get tagged alongside some of the best product thinkers out there (a process I refer to as “redshirting”).
Sani 🏞
PM question:

Should PMs have the codebase set up on their local env + read access to the database

@shreyas @lennysan @onejasonknight @aakashg0 @tobiasrogers
There were a variety of opinions shared within the thread, which I recommend reading in full. My personal take remains:
  • I’m always in favour of transparency, and have no real objection to PMs having (read only) access to “stuff” but…
  • They shouldn’t need access to effectively do their jobs because they should have a healthy, collaborative relationship with their engineering partners. I’m not in favour of PMs pushing code in most circumstances.
  • It’s good to have access to production data but, for the love of god, please let’s have it in a replica to avoid some multi-table join bringing down your SaaS platform
We also have to call out that all situations are different, and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. It’s also true that if you’re in a “wartime” situation then quite a lot of idealised best practices break down.
Do you need demographics in your user personas?
This was another interesting question about whether demographic details are necessary in user personas to help build empathy. Nielsen Norman say yes, but Twitter had some interesting takes.
Lisa is...
Do demographic details in personas help build empathy? NN/g says they do.

I have my own answer, but what do you think?
I mean, I work B2B so demographics aren’t quite so interesting for me (although obviously there are always firmographics as a proxy). My take is that you should have a solid idea up front as to what decisions these demographics enable. If you can’t answer that question, skip the demographics. We need to de-bias our decision-making as much as possible after all.
Is it good or bad being the first product hire at a startup?
I’ve never been the first product manager at an early startup, although I have interviewed for leadership roles at early startups that maybe had one PM and were trying to scale. I was curious about whether being the first PM in a company where the founder is still the de facto product leader was any good. So I asked Twitter.
Jason Knight
I've interviewed for VP at early stage companies but never been a PM at one. I'm talking about where the founder is still the de facto Head of Product.

Have you been / are you the first PM hire at an early company?
The results were interesting, as were the comments. It’s a pretty even split between “Yes, great” and “Yes, bad” although some pointed out that we were missing a “Yes and it’s kind of OK”. I can certainly see the benefits of getting in early, but it’s fair to say that a visionary product hire may clash horribly with a visionary founder. So much of this is about setting expectations up front; it’s totally OK for founders to want to lead the product strategy but they should hire an operational practitioner in this case rather than set themselves up to fail.
There was also a reference to this fantastic article about being the “second first PM” at an early startup which was a really good read.
I can't be insightful so I just post memes instead
Those who follow me on Twitter will know I love a good meme, and when I need a quick dopamine hit I will pop to Imgflip to make some vaguely amusing product management dad joke. Some of them go down well enough, so I decided to collate them into one place. Why not have a look?
And that's a wrap
I’m playing around a little with the format for this newsletter, trying to get away from forcing myself to write a big (possibly uninteresting!) thought piece at the end but concentrating on amplifying interesting stuff I’ve seen on my travels. Hopefully this will be for the better, but please do let me know via the thumbs up / down voting buttons.
Aside from that, that’s it for this week - hopefully it has been interesting & relevant, but I’d love to get your feedback. I’d also love it if you shared this with your product-curious friends & frenemies so they can sign up too.
I’m getting pretty old & need caffeine to stay alive. If you fancy buying me a coffee, you can do that here! If not, I’ll do my best not to fall asleep on you.
Did you enjoy this issue? Yes No
One Knight in Product newsletter
One Knight in Product newsletter @onejasonknight

Keep up-to-date with the latest product management hot takes, as well as discussions from top product management thought leaders & practitioners from my podcast, One Knight in Product

In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Created with Revue by Twitter.