Google PM on Postlight Podcast

Mostly about developing platforms

Managing Product in the Matrix: With Google’s Ben Wilson

When you look at me as a product manager, where I really excelled most is building platforms that engineers use. And where I excel best is when those engineers use that product in a way that that’s expressed externally to customers. And when you’re in that situation, you always have to remember that you’re in service…if you’re building platforms, you have to have this mindset [that the] job is to go serve those people so they can be successful…when you see that success, you kind of get that those goosebumps is like…I can’t believe they use my product to do that.

…why is this particular feature important to this strategy? Hopefully, it’s self evident. If it’s not self evident, then you’ve done something wrong. And that’s part of the challenge. I mean, I would love to say I’m an incredibly awesome storyteller. I don’t think I am. I think that every product manager strives to go do that. But I think it’s the everyday work of being able to say, “Listen, here’s a charter of what I’m trying to go do. Here’s the vision of what I’m trying to go do.” Right? And then be able to say, “Okay, here’s the strategy around it, and why it makes sense.”

…when you get large scale confusion, that becomes problematic. And oftentimes, you see it in a couple different ways. One is, “I don’t understand” or like, “What’s that value look like?” And the other one is “I’m confused”. And those are things that are super concerning. I will tell you is that sometimes in platforms, I think you see that more often…because it’s hard for people to wrap their head around the platform…