How can Product Managers build Product Sense?

Rohit Verma
4 min readJan 23


Building product sense is a vital skill for any product manager. It involves understanding customer needs and desires, as well as the competitive landscape in which your product will operate. Here are a few strategies and mental models that can help you build product sense:

  1. Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. As a product manager, it is essential to put yourself in your customers' shoes and understand their needs and pain points. This will help you create a product that truly meets their needs.
  2. Customer Development: Customer development is the process of identifying and validating the needs of your customers. This can be done through surveys, interviews, and customer research. By conducting customer development, you will gain a deeper understanding of your customers and be able to create a product that addresses their specific needs.
  3. Lean Product Development: Lean product development is a methodology that emphasizes rapid prototyping and testing. By quickly creating and testing prototypes, you can validate assumptions and iterate on your product based on customer feedback. This approach allows you to build a product that is tailored to your customer’s needs and preferences.
  4. First Principles Thinking: First principles thinking is a mental model that involves breaking down a problem into its fundamental components and then applying logic to solve it. This approach can help you think through the problem of building a product in a way that is not influenced by preconceptions or assumptions.
  5. Mental Models: Mental models are frameworks that help you understand and navigate complex systems. By using mental models, you can think through the problem of building a product in a structured way and identify patterns and relationships that might not be immediately obvious.

Let’s understand with the help of an example ↓

As a Product Manager in a broking organization, you are tasked with developing a new trading platform for your customers. To build product sense, you can use the following strategies and mental models:

  1. Empathy: To understand the needs and pain points of your customers, you conduct customer interviews and surveys. Through these interviews, you learn that your customers value simplicity and ease of use in a trading platform. They also want real-time market data and the ability to execute trades quickly.
  2. Customer Development: You conduct customer research to validate your assumptions about the needs of your customers. You observe that many of your customers struggle to navigate the current trading platform and often miss out on profitable trades because of slow execution times.
  3. Lean Product Development: You create a prototype of the new trading platform that is simple and easy to use. You also incorporate real-time market data and faster execution times. You test the prototype with a small group of customers and receive positive feedback.
  4. First Principles Thinking: To solve the problem of creating a trading platform that is easy to use, you break it down into its fundamental components. You realize that the key to ease of use is to present information in a clear and concise manner. You also realize that faster execution times can be achieved by improving the underlying technology of the platform.
  5. Mental Models: You use the mental model of a “Jobs-to-be-Done” framework to understand what your customers are trying to achieve with your trading platform. You learn that they are trying to make profitable trades in real time, and you design your platform to help them achieve this goal.

Using these strategies and mental models, you are able to develop a new trading platform that meets the needs of your customers and exceeds their expectations. The platform is easy to use, provides real-time market data, and allows for faster execution times, which leads to increased customer satisfaction and retention.

Thanks for reading! If you’ve got ideas to contribute to this conversation please comment. If you like what you read and want to see more, clap me some love! Follow me here, or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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Rohit Verma

Senior Product Manager @AngelOne, ex-@Flipkart, @Cleartrip @IIM Bangalore. Interests: Product, Technology, Strategy, Startups, Fintech & E-commerce!