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How to develop Product Intuition

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

No, it can’t be right. One can’t learn Product intuition. It is something that you are born with.

This used to be my reaction when someone used to say they have gotten better at product intuition. Overtime, I realised they were right.

Intuition is the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning. Product Intuition is just a skill and like any other skill it can get better with practice and experience. It’s a combination of deeply understanding the goals of a product, constant evaluation of those goals and fulfilment of those goals to serve the end customers.

When you started typing for the first time, was it this fast as you do it now? No, right? When your mom learns to type something on the laptop, she tries to locate alphabets first, type and then validate them looking at the screen. If you continue to practice doesn’t it become intuitive?

In this article, I am going to talk about how to get better at product intuition.

There are 4 important points to learning product intuition. It has acted as a solid framework for me to follow.

  1. People Obsession — The art of moving from a customer obsessed to people obsessed person.

  2. Product Goals — The art of identifying the right goals for a product and their constant evaluation

  3. Product Tear Down — Reverse engineer the thinking that went behind making a product

  4. Rinse & Repeat — The most important one. Practicing the above over and over again.

People Obsession

We often say, a product manager should be customer obsessed.

I differ.

I believe a good product manager should be people obsessed. Customer obsession should be a subset of people obsession. I’ve been practicing this for the last few years. By taking interest in people’s life, getting to understand their problems, the reasons for their problems and how they approach solving their problems has helped me get better at intuition. This helps develop empathy which is one of the most important factors which contributes to product intuition.

For reference,

A customer obsessed PM will shut his mind off when in a group discussion if the discussion is not related to his market while a product obsessed PM will take interest with utter curiosity to understand more about different markets, customer behaviours.

Product Goals

As a practice, pick up any product and list down the goals for that product. Do this weekly. Consider the following points while making a goals list:

  1. Who are the end users of the product? What matters the most to them. List them down as goals of your product.

  2. What motivates them to buy this product? Add those goals to the list

  3. Look at the marketing material and the narrative of the product. List down goals from this perspective too

The art is picking the products where you are not the target audience. This will stretch your creative muscle.

Product Tear Down

Weekly, gather team members from design, product management and analytics and try tearing down a product. Which means, investigate and reverse engineer the thinking, the positioning and the user experience of the product. You have to look at a variety of products and learn how different products have cracked multiple user experiences like the onboarding of users or how they are engaging users on the app. You have to go deep and question almost everything asking yourself, why X product has created this experience?

I generally do it like this:

  1. In the first half of the day, just pick 1 product and learn about their user experiences.

  2. List down the new experiences you learnt

  3. In the second half of the day, ask strategic questions like why did this product was built? Who will use this? What kind of trade offs were made? How do they know they are going to be successful? What are they tracking?

Rinse & Repeat

It’s not a day’s job but months of practice. There’s no direct way of measuring if you are improving at it but here is a simple framework that has helped me keep a track of it.

  1. List down the product features which are purely out of intuition

  2. Attach a KPI to track how the feature is performing

  3. Out of 3 features you launch in a month, if your success rate is improving month on month, then you know you are getting better at it.

I’m happy to help people who are willing to improve on their product intuition. So here’s a small exercise as a takeaway.

  1. List down the goals for Instagram

  2. Tear it down and try to answer these questions

  3. Why did Instagram launch stories?

  4. How does Instagram onboard new users?

  5. How does Instagram onboard new features?

  6. How does Instagram plan to launch a new feature to make sure it’s successful?

  7. What wowed you about Instagram?

Feel free to send your responses at I’ll definitely take out time and respond to all of them.

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