Week 21, 2023

Over the years, I have joined a plethora of local groups where specialists of various types (electricians, civil engineers, IPS battery traders, etc) discuss their work. The fun part is that even though almost none of them belong to my industry, I end up learning small hacks and tidbits that help me down the line.

For instance, today I learned why column concrete is only done 5 foot at a time – and exactly what goes wrong if you try to circumvent the limit somehow. In the morning, someone in a fish group showed what Shark Eggs look like (strange and beautiful). A few weeks ago, I learned how Bluetooth Keys on modern cars authenticate.

The world is filled with such fantastic bits of trivia!

 

Week 20, 2023

This week, I had a nice realization that you can learn how to “speak better” and that it has nothing to do with knowing the words, but a lot more to do with watching how people use them better than how you did.

A nice situation was when a colleague used “it leaves a lot to be desired” instead of saying “this sucks”, which was the first time when I had this thought. Another time, a very senior team member mentioned “I have been incredibly lucky with my involvement in xyz”, which was a very humble way to say “I lead the project”.

So yeah – learning how to speak better everyday!

 

Week 19, 2023

There is a lot of heat today on the social sphere regarding the appointment of the Mayor’s Daughter as the Chief Heat Officer.

While there is a concern that this is a nepotist move by the mayor – my take on it is simple: for a role paid for by a foreign foundation, the mayor’s daughter is the best possible candidate because she is the only person out there who can have an influence over the mayor when it comes to taking really tough decisions around reducing heat in Dhaka.

I think it’s a fantastic and intelligent move that could not have been replaced by a thought leader or a scientist in the same position. Because the problem and the solution are all known – and all we need is adequate negotiation and push so as to ensure that bureaucracy cannot hold back the ulterior motive! And who can do it better than that mayor’s daughter?

 

Week 18, 2023

এখন পর্যন্ত আমি একটাও নেগেটিভ পোস্ট দেখিনাই যে মুক্তাদির কাকে বিয়ে করলো কিংবা কেন করলো। তবে এখন পর্যন্ত প্রায় ১০-১২ জন দেখছি খুবই কন্সারন্ড যে এইটা নিয়ে তাঁদের আশেপাশের মানুষ অনেক কথা বলছে এবং তাঁরা তা মেনে নিতে পারছেন না।

ওয়ান ওয়ার্ড অফ এডভাইসঃ এই ধরনের মানুষকে লাইফ থেকে কেটে ফেলে নিজের বাবলে ঢুকে যান। লাইফ অনেক ভ্যালুয়েবল – কষ্ট করে সাথে সম্পর্ক রাখার মানেই নাই।

 

Week 17, 2023

রিসেন্টলি ঘটে যাওয়া ফায়ার ইন্সিডেন্টগুলো (বঙ্গবাজার এবং নিউ মার্কেট এর আগুন) আমার মনে হয় আরসন না। আরসন জাস্ট মেইস এভ্রিথিং ওরস। আপনি হাল্কা পাতলা পলিটিক্স জানলেও কোনোদিন আরসন কে সলিউশন ভাববেন না। কারন এতে আপনার নিজের নাম আরও বেশী নষ্ট হবে। উল্টো এক বিল্ডিং লোক খেদায়ে একটা মার্কেট করতে ইন রিয়েলিটি আপনার হয়তো ৫০ জন হোমরা চোমরা লোক কে একটা করে ফ্রি দোকান দিলেই পুরো কাজ হয়ে যাবে। আমি এই কন্সপিরেসি থিওরি একদমই বিশ্বাস করিনা।

বড় ডিজাস্টার গুলোতে আমি পাবলিক ডোনেশন এর পক্ষে না। জনগন সব জায়গায় টাকা দিলে আর ট্যাক্স দেয় কেন? জনগনের ত্রান বিতরণ করা লাগলে আস্ত একটা ত্রাণ মন্ত্রণালয় কি করে? একটা আগুন লাগলেও যদি পাবলিকের টাকা দেওয়া লাগে – তাহলে আস্ত ফিন্যানশিয়াল ইন্ডাস্ট্রি কিংবা ইনসুরেন্স ইন্ডাস্ট্রি কি করবে? তাঁদের কাজ তাঁদের করতে দেন।

 

Week 16, 2023

রাজউকের টিচার সংক্রান্ত স্ক্রিনশটগুলো আগলি। এই ধরনের রিভেঞ্জ পর্ণ শেয়ার করাটা একটা ক্রাইম। পাব্লিকলি এইগুলা নিয়ে মজা নেওয়াটা আপনার নীচ মানসিকতার প্রমান বহন করে। এই পুরো ইভেন্টে একজন ভিক্টিম কে আপনারা জেনে বুঝে পাব্লিকলি শেইম করছেন – দ্যাটস জাস্ট আনএক্সেপ্টেবল।

 

Week 15, 2023

বিদ্যানন্দ ইস্যুতে আমি ওদের বিপক্ষের পার্টিকে বিশ্বাস করিনা। কিছু সিম্পল মিস্টেইক কে নিয়ে যেভাবে তেনা পেঁচানো হইলো – সেইটা দেখে মনে হচ্ছে যে পুরো ইস্যুটাই পার্সোনাল কিংবা পলিটিক্যাল গ্রাজ থেকে শুরু।

 

Week 14, 2023

Banter at the office reminded me that I no longer remember what model my GPU is.

When I was 14, I think I could name every GPU out there and list out their benchmark scores from memory – and I couldn’t even afford a good one back then.

Now, I can afford any GPU I want, yet I haven’t upgraded in years and don’t bother to check which one I own. It just works for my use case so I hadn’t even bothered to check that I have owned a rather low-end card for years now.

It’s interesting how priorities change.

 

Week 13, 2023

I have a newfound respect for Chaana Daal or Chickpea. Its a massive struggle to make it work as food. Putting it in water for 12 hours isn’t enough. Boiling it for 30 mins is not enough. And it doesn’t even burn properly when you forget to add water to the mix.

Elon, please make this the staple food of Mars.

 

Week 12, 2023

I somehow feel that offers that say, “Buy 2, Get 1” are rather misleading. You see, I already bought 2, so that’s what I should be getting minimum. If I get an extra free, then it should say “Buy 2, Get 3”.

I don’t know why it doesn’t tick off anybody else.

 

Week 11, 2023

Noticed that Facebook can now translate cross-language. You could write the Urdu language in English text, and yet they can detect and translate that pretty well.

The line above is Urdu, written with English characters.
This is a rather insanely good translation. Considering the fact that some wording on the English is not 1:1 map to the Urdu pronunciation either (I am not an expert but I can guess that pori should have been written as puuri or puri, or that hy should have been hai, etc).

This is rocket science.

 

Week 10, 2023

This week is seeing an odd amount of reports/speculation about GPT-4 release and how its going to take over the world.

Sounds good. But only if people understood the context and learned how to use it instead of being wary about it.

Also, what’s up with setting the clocks back again? How is this helping anybody?

 

Week 9, 2023

I learned this week that there is a Scottish Island (Gruinard) that’s off-limits because some idiot thought it would be a good idea to drop anthrax-filled cakes inside Germany to help stop the war.

The test island was contaminated for 50 years.

 

Week 8, 2023

There is a fantastic book around the 1971 war named “আমরা তোমার শান্তিপ্রিয় শান্ত ছেলে” by Kishor Pasha. Wish it had an English translation though.

Worth a read.

 

Week 7, 2023

I have recently been struggling with getting a specific thing done. Not because I can’t do it or don’t want to – but because the constant delivery deadline is turning into a pressure that reduces the quality of work that I do. Naturally, I don’t end up liking what I have just done, and end up eventually taking more time than what it would have taken me originally in a quality and timeframe that I am comfortable with.

It brings to mind the age-old pie-chart between Cheap <> Good <> Fast, which I feel is a little incomplete.

Its possible to do this, but you have to lower your standards of what “Good” means to you.

 

Week 6, 2023

Had three rather odd experiences this week.

  1. I lost a token from the Indian Embassy’s partner (IVAC). I had to file a General Diary although I had a photo of the token (they are supposed to return my Passport against it, and refused to give it to me without the token). It carries no intrinsic value whatsoever because I had a photo and could easily provide whatever information they needed from the token itself. At any rate, they always verify fingerprints to confirm that it really is my passport. But alas, they made me go back, spend money to file the GD, make a photocopy of it, and add in a photo of myself with it as proof that I really lost it. What a waste of time and effort for a piece of paper. Bureaucracy 101.
  2. BRTA (the local road transport authority) kept me on my toes with renewals against stuff they do not do themselves. My name transfer application apparently has an expiry date. But the application does not expire. It’s just a delivery date that they fail to uphold, and then expect me to visit and extend the delivery date. Without the extended date, apparently, I am supposed to pay a ~150 USD fine. All for what? Their failure to get my work done on time? What a bunch of crooks.
  3. I had an AI file that’s 4 MB with the design elements. But then, I added 3 images to it. The images themselves are 12-15 MB each. That means, the whole package should be 50 MB at best. But with my images embedded, the final file reaches 500MB. Where does the 10X more data come from?

On the other hand – I am rather sad and concerned about whatever has been happening in Turkey post the earthquakes. The news pouring in is sad. And it’s terrifying that the same could happen to me in Dhaka – and it would probably be 10X worse here. I keep wondering if I should think about it – or whether the best idea is to just turn a blind eye towards it. What’s right?

 

Week 5, 2023

This week I had one really odd example of a UX being terrible. Approximately a year ago, I bought a Xiaomi Mouse. It was fairly expensive, and died out on me within a month or so. I was annoyed af, and left it hanging with the idea that I would like to get back to it and repair it in a few days. Fast forward a year of new mouses and a fantastic Razr Basilisk later -> I found myself rummaging through my drawer when I stumbled upon the old device. Felt like giving it a try – so I put in new batteries and tried to turn it on.

Shit didn’t turn on. Made me really sad.

I then finally took a look at the instructions on the battery casing – and noticed something really odd.

You know how battery contacts are always differently designed, with one contact (the negative terminal) going to a Spring, and the Positive Terminal going to a flat plate? Well, it was sort of muscle memory for me, and I wasn’t even looking when I installed the batteries in a way such that the flat side of the battery always touches the spring, and the side of the battery that has a raised nipple of sorts goes to the flat plate on the contact.

Well, someone at Xiaomi’s Design Lab decide to turn this logic around – and installed the springs both for the positive and negative terminals. Resulting in a circuit that never closed because I wasn’t expecting to put the pointy edge of a battery to a spring.

Hell, what a disaster.

And oh, I got bored last night and asked ChatGPT for advice that it would give to a 20 year old. The answer went like this:

  1. Focus on self-improvement and personal growth. Invest in your education, physical and mental health, and relationships.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks and step outside your comfort zone. This is a time for exploration and finding your passions.
  3. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Build a strong support system of friends and family.
  4. Start saving and planning for your financial future. Establish healthy money habits and consider seeking advice from a financial advisor.
  5. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. You are still young and have plenty of time to figure things out. Don’t be too hard on yourself and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small.
 

Product VS People

What’s a Product First Approach?

A product-first approach in Product Management is a focus on delivering the best possible product experience and outcomes for the customer. It prioritizes the product and its features, design, user experience, and technical excellence. In this approach, the Product Manager is responsible for defining the product vision, roadmap, and requirements, and ensuring that the product is developed and delivered in a way that meets customer needs and exceeds their expectations.

This approach is often used when the product has a clear target market and a well-defined set of requirements, or when the goal is to deliver a product that is highly differentiated and provides a unique value proposition to customers. A product-first approach emphasizes the importance of designing and developing a product that is easy to use, meets customer needs, and provides a positive experience for the user.

The key to success with a product-first approach is to have a deep understanding of the customer and their needs, and to use that understanding to inform every aspect of the product development process. This requires close collaboration between the Product Manager, the development team, and other stakeholders, to ensure that the product is designed, built, and delivered in a way that meets the needs of the customer.

Whats a People First Approach?

A people-first approach in Product Management prioritizes the people behind the product, including the team, customers, and stakeholders. It emphasizes empathy, collaboration, and communication, and is focused on creating a supportive and empowering environment for the team and ensuring that everyone is engaged and invested in the success of the product.

In this approach, the Product Manager is responsible for building strong relationships with team members, customers, and stakeholders, and ensuring that their perspectives and needs are understood and incorporated into the product development process. The focus is on creating a culture of collaboration and communication, where team members feel supported and empowered to contribute their best work.

A people-first approach is often used when the product and its goals are less well-defined, or when the team is working in an environment with high levels of uncertainty and complexity. By prioritizing the people behind the product, Product Managers can foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork, and ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards a common goal.

The key to success with a people-first approach is to create an environment of trust, where team members feel valued and supported, and to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities. This requires close collaboration between the Product Manager and the development team, as well as regular communication and engagement with customers and stakeholders, to ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards a common goal.

So, what’s better?

Both a product-first approach and a people-first approach have their merits and limitations. Ultimately, the answer to what’s more important will depend on the specific context, goals, and objectives of the product and the team.

In most cases, the best approach is to strike a balance between both, taking a product-first approach when developing the product and a people-first approach when building and leading the team. By focusing on both the product and the people, Product Managers can deliver successful products that meet customer needs, while also building strong, motivated teams that are engaged and invested in the success of the product.

One example of a company that prioritizes a people-first approach in Product Management is Zappos. Zappos is known for its customer-centric culture, where employees are encouraged to put the customer first in everything they do. This culture is reflected in the company’s approach to Product Management, where the focus is on creating a supportive and empowering environment for the team, and ensuring that everyone is engaged and invested in the success of the product. By doing what it does, Zappos has been able to create a strong and motivated team that is aligned and working towards a common goal, and has helped to drive customer satisfaction and business success.

On the other hand, an example of a company that prioritizes a product-first approach in Product Management is Apple, which is known for its focus on design and innovation, and for delivering products that are highly differentiated and provide a unique value proposition to customers. This focus is reflected in the company’s approach to Product Management, where the focus is on delivering the best possible product experience and outcomes for the customer. This has helped the company to drive customer satisfaction and business success, and has contributed to its reputation as a leader in innovation and design.

Thus, overall – it makes no sense to choose one over the other arbitrarily.

 

Okay, you are hired. Now what?

Everybody asks questions about what is the right set of questions to ask in an Interview – or beyond. But what happens once you are hired? What questions should you be asking once you are in the team (or even earlier, for that matter)?

Here are a few good questions to ask as a new Product Manager:

  1. What are the top priorities for the product and why?
  2. What is the process for evaluating and prioritizing new features?
  3. Who are the main stakeholders and what are their objectives?
  4. What metrics are used to track success of the product?
  5. How does the product roadmap look like and what is the timeline for the next releases?
  6. How does the team handle and prioritize customer feedback?
  7. Who are the key players in the decision-making process for the product?
  8. How does the team approach product experimentation and testing?
  9. What resources (people, budget, technology) are available to support the product?
  10. How does the team stay up to date with market trends and industry changes?
 

What is the difference between a Product Owner and a Product Manager?

I get asked this question almost every week – probably because the local scene in Dhaka isn’t that used to having a product-first culture.

The idea is simple. A Product Owner is primarily responsible for defining and prioritizing the product backlog, while a Product Manager is responsible for overall product strategy and roadmap.

The Product Owner focuses on defining the user stories and prioritizing the product backlog to ensure that development efforts are aligned with business objectives. They work closely with the development team to ensure that the product backlog is well-defined and that the team has a clear understanding of what is expected of them.

The Product Manager, on the other hand, is responsible for overall product strategy and roadmap. They work with stakeholders such as executives, sales, and marketing to understand market trends and customer needs, and then use that information to drive the product strategy. The Product Manager is also responsible for ensuring that the product is aligned with the company’s overall business goals.

In summary, the Product Owner is focused on the tactical execution of the product backlog, while the Product Manager is focused on the strategic direction of the product. Both roles are critical to the success of a technology product, and it is common for one person to wear both hats in smaller companies.

However, in larger organizations, it is typical for these roles to be separated to ensure that both the tactical and strategic aspects of product development are properly managed.