A framework for building high-quality products

One of the great paradoxes about quality is that everyone can tell when a product is high quality – the iPhone, Swiss watches, Scandinavian furniture, etc. but evidently creating a high quality product is relatively a rare feat. I’ve been thinking about what separates high quality products from the rest and can we create processes to create high quality software at product orgs consistently. Specifically, at early stage companies which have very little data, an objective definition of high quality can be hard to specify. …


2020 will probably rank as the worst year of our lifetimes. As I think about the year gone by, there’s a lot that went wrong, especially the lives lost ,not to return again, driven by failures in leadership across the world. When faced with adversity, I often turn to my faith to shore up my resilience. A key tenet in Islam is to find gratitude to Allah even in the face of adversity. …


Given that we have begun to think of re-opening the economy in the United States, I have been thinking of what the next few months and years would look like in terms of return to normalcy. I see two camps of people, one which is optimistic that things will return back to normalcy pretty soon. And, the other which thinks that things will never be the same as before.

The two major factors in terms of return to normalcy will be (1) how the governments, both at the federal and state level contain the health risks of the virus and…


As we embark into a new decade, I was thinking about how the role of Product Management has transformed in the past 10 years. On a day to day basis, it doesn’t seem like much has changed at all, but thinking back to how PMs in the average company built products in the 2000s vs what they do now, there is indeed a sea change.

The trends I picked below are ones that affected the whole industry, not just a few companies. These are trends that transformed “how” PMs operate, not just what they work on. Arguably, some of these…


The decision making framework you build for your team/organization is going to be critical to its success or failure. In the era of the internet, data has become a key part of the decision making frameworks in companies. And, rightfully, so. Data is based in reality — what’s actually happening. And, your decisions should be grounded in reality and facts as much as possible. However, how you use data in your decisions also matters. And, that can have long term downstream impact on the quality of the product you build.

Data driven vs Data informed

Sometimes people think the difference between being ‘data driven’ and…


Persona based design thinking has been in vogue for a long time. I believe the origins of persona-driven design started in marketing and then moved into digital product design as well. While appealing in theory, I have found persona-based design to be quite challenging because it tries to define a set of average users of your product. I run into the following challenges usually 1) Defining an average user is tough. Especially in products that have millions of users. We come up with profiles, behaviors etc. from UX research but how do you know if they are truly representative of…


There is a management crisis in organizations. If you ask anyone why they are unhappy at work, most would talk about bad management. You hear stories about managers who don’t care about their reports, who aren’t being transparent, who are not setting the right direction for the team etc. As they say, employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers. So why is it hard to be a good manager ? I have a hypothesis. Despite all their good intentions, most managers do not know what their development areas are. What is surprising is that very few managers actually ask their…


This is a continuation of the three part series on machine learning for product managers.

The first note focused on what problems are best suited for application of machine learning techniques. The second note talked about what additional skill-sets a PM needs when building machine learning products. This note will focus on what are the common mistakes made in building ML products.

The goal of the note is to provide someone with limited ML understanding a general sense of the common pitfalls so that you can have a conversation with your data scientists and engineers about these. I will not…


This is a continuation of the three part series on machine learning for product managers.

The first note focused on what problems are best suited for application of machine learning techniques. This note would delve into what additional skill-sets a PM needs when building products that leverage machine learning

As I had mentioned in Part I, the core skill sets required of a PM do not change whether you work in a machine learning driven solution space or not. Product managers typically use five core skills — customer empathy/design chops, communication, collaboration, business strategy and technical understanding. Working on ML…


Machine learning(ML) and AI are hot topics these days. So, I find a lot of product managers and would-be product managers come up to me and ask how they can become better ML PMs. Since the intersection of machine learning and product management is a fairly comprehensive topic, one post would not do justice to it. Hence, I am planning to break it down into three parts

Part I — Problem Mapping: What types of problems are best suited for machine learning

Part II — ML Skills : What additional skill-sets does a PM need in building products that leverage…

Uzma Barlaskar

Growth @WhatsApp. PM @Facebook. Former Entrepreneur (CEO, PatternEQ). Stanford MBA. Still an engineer at heart . Find me on twitter: @uzmabarlaskar

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