Become a Strong Product Leader in 6 Months: User Centricity

Become a Strong Product Manager in 6 Months
Part 1 User Centricity 

Dear Junior Product Manager, here are the things I wish I knew about these skills when I started my journey in Product... 

After more than 4 years of Product Management, I see a recurring episode happening over and over. We get the chance to become an associate Product Manager (PM) only because we hold a scrum certificate. Know this agile framework is very important, but there is more to know if you want to create more impact faster.

In a series of three articles, I will share 3 skills, together with some practical examples which will help any PM to position themselves as irreplaceable and will speed up the positive impact the product can have on its users.

I wish I knew about these skills when I first started my journey in Product...

Beyond Scrum and market knowledge, what skills are needed for an associate PM?

I ran several surveys on LinkedIn targeting product managers, this resulted in more than 50 answers. The question they were asked is simple:

Which skill did you wish you had when you started working in product?

In this series of three blogs, I will provide some insights on how you can accelerate your expertise on the three areas mentioned above to make yourself as a strong PM in only 6 months. This blog focuses on:

  • User-centric approach
  • Value proposition

My next blog will then look deeper into:

  • Data analytics: 
  • North Star Metric vs Vanity Metrics
  • How to read the data 

And my final blog will explore: 

  • Communication 
    • Internal with the core team 

*The topic framework knowledge will be tackled separately as it is a topic per se. 

User-centric approach

The following framework will increase the understanding of your customers and help you focus on what's most important for them, the real opportunities worth tackling. 

Value proposition Canvas (Osterwalder, Pigneur: Value Proposition Design, 2014)

Start broad, from the customer’s "everyday" routine. Do not focus only on your product domain. I.e. if you are building a product for B2B users, start mapping from the moment they wake up till they go to bed. The Value Proposition Canvas is a framework to understand and ensure that there is a fit between the "product offering" and the "market needs".

To use this framework, you need to capture the jobs, pains and gains of the users. Then connect them with the "solution" or value provided by your product. Follow the next steps to fill out this framework. Completing the customer profile is by far the most important asset you create.

Customer profile

Customer Jobs: 

This describes what your customers are trying to get done. 

  • Functional jobs: the act of performing a task (clean the dishes, ...) 
  • Social jobs: Looking good or reaching a certain status (dress to impress,...) 
  • Emotional jobs:  Reaching a certain feeling (financial security,...)

Customer Pains

These are what makes the customer annoyed or failing the job.

When writing the pains, try to be as concrete as possible. An example: "It's annoying to use excel because it is so slow to work with large files" 

In this case we don't know when it starts to get annoying, try to be more precise and find out how many minutes it takes before it starts to get annoying, so you can create a better solution. A more precise pain would be, "After X minutes Excel is annoying..."
Customer Gains

This is all about the desired outcome your customers are seeking. It is essential to split the thought process into 4 different sections. Functional gains, social gains, positive emotions and savings (time, money, effort).  Similarly, in this  case, try to be as precise as possible. 
When you have collected the jobs, pain and gains, prioritise these by severity. Then connect them with the value provided by your product. To do this, use the value map. 
Value Map
It describes the "features" of your product in a structured way. It breaks down your value proposition into 3 categories. 
•    Product and service: This is a list of all the functionalities your value proposition offers. It goes beyond the product itself, for example a 24/7 call centre support, would be included as a service. 
•    Pain relievers: Describe how the functionalities relieve the customer pains. When using this framework, connect the customer pains with the functionality that could be pain relievers. 
•    Gain creators: How your product creates value and helps the customer to thrive. Connect customer gains with the gain creators’ features visually. This will clarify which are your strongest value propositions. 

Picture from - B2b international

So to summarise my key takeaways so far to accelerate the path to become a strong Product Manager: 

Do’s: User-Centricity

  • Think about what happens before, during,  and  after   the user perform  a  job related to your product
  • Create functional, emotional and social jobs
  • Be precise (X minutes) when noting pains and gains
  • Prioritise jobs, pains and gains by severity
  • Connect your different value  proposition with the customer profile

Keep an eye out for my next blog on leveraging data as a Product Manager!

Thank you to Tiziano Nessi for submitting this blog to Maxwell Bond for publication. Would you like to see your article published? Get in touch with me directly at to ask about opportunities to feature as a Product specialist in upcoming campaigns, blogs, and events.