Facebook PM: You Need to Think Like A PM to Work in a Facebook R&D Team (Part 2)

PMs should believe their team members are smart. When they share PMs’ goal and have enough information, they will make the same rational decisions as PMs do.

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Facebook PM: You Need to Think Like A PM to Work in a Facebook R&D Team (Part 2)

Editor’s note:

What makes a great R&D team which can efficiently deliver high-quality work?

That is one of many questions that many PM and managers ask themselves every single day.

The author of this article Qu Xiaoyin is the current video product manager at Facebook. She had managed five product teams including Instagram, Advertising, Searching products in Facebook.

As an experienced PM, Qu Xiaoyin thinks PMs should always try to eliminate the information gap that makes the teamwork inefficient.

This is the Part 2 of a 2-Part Series. Link to the Part 1.


Eliminate information gap:

A good PM knows that the rest of the team does not make bad decisions if the team has enough background information, knowing what the goals are and what the problems are.

Sometimes you may think that the engineer does not have a good product sense, or the designer’s design is pretentious and can’t achieve good effect.

But it is not because they are unprofessional. It is just because they may not know what the product’s target customers are, or we can say whether they should wholeheartedly attract new users or please existing users. They may not know what the problems to be solved are, for example, whether it is to help undergraduates find suitable internships, or to help them improve their skills in finding internships?

Or they don’t know so much as you for they do not talk to all kinds of people every day as you did. They may not know this navigation bar design will take twice as long, or this way of extracting users’ information simply does not comply with the law.

A mentor, whom I respect, told me that you should believe that all your team members are smart. When they have the same goals as you and understand exactly what the problems are and have the same background as you, then they will make the same rational decisions as you.

When they make a bad decision, you should ask yourself: As a PM, have you let them know well the above three points.

So, you should spend more time figuring out whether your engineers’, designers’, data scientists’ and your understanding of product goals and issues are the same, rather than spending time managing and controlling everything.

The roadmap for making decisions:

Image credit to 123rf.com.cn.

A good PM helps the team understand the roadmap for making decisions, rather than making decisions for the team.

For example, if you’re working on a short video product, you’ve just added the feature that allows users to comment on short videos with a sticker, resulting in an increase in the usage of stickers but with fewer reviews. What are you going to do?

An ordinary PM will ask the data scientist whether the user’s daily online time data changes or not, and if no changes, he or she may say that the sticker function is of no use, and should be removed. Then the engineer who is in charge of this feature will certainly disapprove and think that you have no reason to do so as you ask him or her to add it.

A good PM will hold a meeting with team members to discuss a roadmap for making decisions.

For example: First we should check out how much the sticker usage increases, how much the reviews reduce, and then analyze the core product data, such as online time. If the online time is reduced, we should eliminate the sticker feature, if increased, we will keep it. Ask members whether they agree or not.

Then ask the data scientist to report to and show us the data changes. If the data is reduced and everyone has agreed to the roadmap for decision-making before, the engineer may not feel unhappy as well. Instead, he or she will clearly understand the reasons for doing so and that this decision is a tough one made by us together.

A small test:

Image credit to 123rf.com.cn.

The following is a PM’s mind quiz. Based on today’s sharing contents, make your decisions. Please share your comments in the comment section.

You’ve just released a new beauty camera App, and you found nobody was using the adding lip color feature while your team is developing the function of adding different lip glosses to make users’ lips look more moisturized. You need to make improvements within two days to meet the updating time of the App’s new version. Which of the following decisions you need to make by yourself, which can be handed over to others to make(to whom), which can be delayed.

  • The designer thinks the lip gloss colors are not enough and asks you should he or she increase red bean color, which is quite popular on the Internet recently.
  • The engineer asks you should the adding lip gloss button be highlighted when being selected via touching by the users.
  • You need to figure out why lip gloss feature is not popular. Is it because the users lack the need of adding lip gloss or because the lip gloss feature you are providing is not satisfactory.
  • The lip gloss adding feature has met some problems. Some lip colors have significant makeup effects, some don’t have good effects. Should the lip gloss adding feature be released with only some colors that can achieve good effects, or should this version give up this feature?
  • You have found that some users are acting as product purchasing agents or online celebrities good at makeup in your App. They are live streaming their makeup process of adding YSL lip glosses of different popular colors while answering questions from users, which means they won’t use your lip gloss function. You don’t know the current proportion of these users.