All posts by Prasad

Prasad is a builder-at-heart, and writes about product management, leadership and coaching talent. He's equally passionate about family, food & travel.

I learned Ideo’s secret to innovate & design for human emotions 🔮

Part of the reason I love being in product is how success is directly tied to identifying and solving the right problems. Of course this requires sifting through data, but numbers are useless if you can’t contextualize them. And that requires empathy — for customers, for people that work with you, and our eco-system. My colleague John is great at this, and my first port of call to confirm if this course was a meaningful investment to get better at my craft. Thanks for your nod, John.

The Insights for Innovation course from Ideo is spaced over 5 weeks. Primarily online learning, it has continuous collaboration with other learners, and weekly mentor calls. Don’t expect tons of theory as its designed to be application-first. Isn’t learning by doing is the best? Here’s what I learned:

#1 Don’t let your design marginalise minorities.

An idealistic statement that’s weightier now then ever. As builders, we fail to realise that equity can be built into good design. If we did, it wouldn’t take a revolution for product packaging to drop racial references. Pause for a bit and imagine thinking about eating habits when designing a product for a healthy lifestyle. Who did you think of?

Did you those consider humans that work in hazardous work environments like mining, or those that don’t have enough access to daily nutrition? To contextualise the latter, the addressable market for that problem is close to a billion people.

#2 Study extremes even if you only build for core users.

PMs shouldn’t come across like this when advocating for their extremes users.

Customer advocacy is expected of product people. But too often personas limit our thinking with an averaged description of our majority users. Extremes are humans whose needs and environment varies drastically from the typical user or use case. Addressing edge case scenarios expands the range of your solution – not the job to be done. Extremes amplify every other user’s needs, stretching our thinking to come up with breakthrough ideas that expand the range your product serves.

In hindsight, this is how we innovated procure-to-pay at Zycus in 2010. We bet that insights from early (SMB) adopters would help us build for the majority and cross the chasm where most products fall through. PS: If you haven’t read Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore, please do. One exercise in the course prompted thinking about extreme experiences one could have in a vehicle. What comes to mind? Some extreme ideas at the end ⬇️.

Continue reading I learned Ideo’s secret to innovate & design for human emotions 🔮

5 tips: how to find a job in Germany, Europe, or anywhere else 🇺🇸🇦🇺🇸🇬

A couple of recent mentoring sessions ended with mentees asking how to find a job in Berlin, particularly asking about English-speaking opportunities. While I could share my own experience of moving here from Dubai, I asked fellow mentors from the Mentoring Club: Büşra Coşkuner (Product Consultant), Fani Bahar (Product @ VMWare Pivotal Labs), Pavlo Voznenko (CTO, Instamotion) & Rahul Jain (Principal EM, Omio). for some tips. And like great mentors, they were kind to share their expertise. 

1. Reflect on why you want to move 🪞

No one leaves home without a reason, but it’s important to articulate your own. While it’s mostly one of career advancement, quality of life, or cultural curiosity, your individual priorities might differ. Not only does reflection help decide, it also helps trade off – as most moves require.

💡 Tip #1 Evaluate objectively: Identify and rank your criteria from what matter most to what you can let go. Don’t let gut decide.

Rahul suggests probing into reasons, evaluating the decision objectively and noting fundamental differences between locations. EU is less capitalist (more socialist) than the US, implying lower disposable income, but great public health care. The US is ahead in tech, offers more opportunities, lesser bureaucracy and doesn’t need a new language.

My journey: I moved for quality of life and to experience a new culture, which I traded off with tax-free income, luxury and proximity from home. No regrets. I evaluated my priorities using this decision framework (spreadsheet linked).

2. Short list countries & cities to live in 🌍

Selecting cities needs way more than looking at a map. You have to understand the supply-demand for roles you’re seeking, immigration barriers (language, visa, residency) and cost of living.

As Pavlo pointed, moving with a partner broadens your options. That way, the one whose role has higher demand can pioneer, while the other can bridge barriers and eventually land a job. He also notes the option of studying in Germany, which promotes internship as a means of entry.

💡 Tip #2 Reach out: to your network — friends, family, professional contacts or a mentor — with clear context and questions. Don’t confuse them with asking help finding you a job.

Continue reading 5 tips: how to find a job in Germany, Europe, or anywhere else 🇺🇸🇦🇺🇸🇬

Will your career growth survive COVID-19? 5 prompts to set personal goals today!

I hope you are safe and doing well through the ongoing health and humanitarian crises. The Coronavirus pandemic caught us by surprise, and has left us between repealed norms and an uncertain future. The end isn’t imminent but we’re optimistic.

If you work on the front lines or in an essential category serving this pandemic, my sincere appreciation. Thanks & God bless you. 🙏🏻

If not, you probably have a story for your career-from-home in 2020. And that’s going to be my favorite conversation starter for learning, coaching, networking, interviewing and small-talk in 2021. How did you prevent your personal development from stalling? If you don’t an answer ready, this post might give you some ideas.

In May, Janus offered me to host a session at his Product Management peer group. I took the opportunity to dive into this question with fellow Product leaders and get inspired by their stories from these troubled times. I want to share the leading questions I used (#5 added later) to help frame that story.

Prompts to set personal development goals 🤔

  1. What is the 1 thing you had/knew pre-COVID, but didn’t use it much, and are now using/applying it more than before.
  2. What Skill(s) or Technique(s) you learned pre-COVID are you applying right now?
  3. What book kept you inspired during COVID?
  4. What’s a Skill or Technique you want to sharpen in 2020?
  5. How did you give back to the community during these times?
Continue reading Will your career growth survive COVID-19? 5 prompts to set personal goals today!