Product Management in Economic Downturns

Product Management in Economic Downturns

经济低迷下的产品管理

 One consequence of having been around this industry for a while is that I have seen several cycles. Sometimes the downsides are fairly minor and barely touch tech companies, and at other times nearly everyone has lay-offs, cost-cutting, consolidations, or worse. While it is never fun to see the industry enter a downturn, I have learned that this can actually be a very productive period for the smart companies that know how to weather the storm.

经济低迷一直以来就是工业化的后果之一,因为我曾经就经历过几轮。有时候,这些负面影响是相当小的,仅仅会触及到技术型公司,有时,则可能导致几乎人人失业,减薪,并购或者更糟糕的情况。然而,产业低迷可不是什么有趣的事情,我一直在了解对于那些知道如何应对风暴的聪明的公司来说,可能也意味着会进入一个高产周期。

There is already been the normal round of warnings from VC is and others about the importance of holding your costs down so that your runway gets as long as possible, and that is all good but it is all defensive. I am like to talk about some of the offensive opportunities that arise during these times.

一直以来,就有VC警告企业要实现良性循环,并且说明降低成本的重要性是为了让自己走的更远一些,这些都是好的建议,并且也能让企业具有抵抗力。我想谈论一些关于在这个时期里出现的offensive opportunities

First, in flush times companies tend to hire lots of engineers and the life of a product manager can turn into a constant rush to create the next PRD so that engineering has something to build.  In a downturn, every headcount is considered essential, and the company understands that they will be producing less, and there is more appreciation for the need for something good  something that actually works and provides real value. Instead of just having the engineering team build out lots of ideas with the hope that something will stick, in a tight environment, you need to take product discovery very seriously, and make sure that everything you ask your engineers to build is worth building.

首先,在兴盛时期,企业总是倾向于雇用太多的工程师,因此,产品经理的生活就成了一成不变的匆匆交付撰写的一个又一个PRD,以便让工程师有事情去做。一旦到了低迷时期,每个人员计划都有被考虑的必要,公司知道他们将会产出更少,因此会把更多的关注给那些需要的,好的,确实能执行并提供真正价值的事物上。替代以往仅仅由工程师团队构建大量想法的情况,从而使某件事情能够持续下去,在这种紧张的环境中,你需要非常谨慎地面对产品机会,要确信你向工程师询问的每一件要做的事情都是值得去做的。

Second, one of the biggest enemies of creating great products is simply too many people. I have written elsewhere about the problems of design by committee that come with too many people all hanging over your shoulder waiting for your product. Downturns tend to significantly trim this list of people. Not that they are all be laid-off, but rather that they are stretched very thin and they only have time to worry about their own areas and hopefully let you do your job. A small team of strong people can do amazing things.

第二,对于许多人来说,开发一个不错的产品的最大敌人之一就是涉及太多的人。我曾经在别的地方就产品委员会的构成问题写过一篇文章,指出了从一开始,就有太多的人笼罩在要等待的产品四周。低迷将会很明显地把人们的职责整理的清清楚楚。没有人愿意因为涉足太多的事情而被解雇,他们只会把时间放在关注他们那一亩三分地上,他们只想着你能做好你的工作就可以了。一个由精干之人组成的小团队才能做一些让人惊奇的事情出来。

Third, your competitors will be feeling the effects of the downturn as well, but if they are like most companies, they won’t really be taking advantage of this opportunity. This may in fact be a good time to recruit the best people from your competitors.

第三,你的竞争对手也会同样感受到低迷带来的影响,但是,如果他们像大多数的公司确实没有把握住这个机会的优势,事实上这是一个从竞争对手那里挖人的好机会。

Finally, as the saying goes, necessity really is the motherhood of invention, and there is nothing like a small, strong team with a fire lit under them. This is when a lot of great products get created, and I will also say that if you are on such a team, you can really enjoy this time.

最后,常言道,现实需要为创新之母,没有什么能够让你在一个精干强悍的团队里更能激发你的热情。这就是当许多不错的产品要被开发的时候,我经常会说如果你在这样一个团队里,那么你就能够享受这样的时光了。

During the last major downturn, in the late nineties, many tech companies died off and just about all were impacted to one degree or another, but some companies laid low, developed their product ideas, and prepared themselves to take advantage of the eventual recovery. I bet you use the product of one of these companies several times every day whenever you needed to find something on the Web.

在上世纪90年代的最后一次经济低迷中,许多技术公司因为受到一定程度的影响而相继死亡,但是一些公司却挺了下来,开发他们的产品构想,准备着重新崛起的条件。我敢打赌,当你在web上需要找一些东西的时候,每天都会用到好几次这些公司的产品当中的一个。

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