Product Management: Building Great Products by Jon Kolko

Product Management: Building Great Products

A step-by-step guide to design-led product management


This course presents an introduction to product management – the process and skills necessary to develop a new idea and bring it to market. This training will help you better think about how to bring innovative new products to market. The course is structured around three main themes: 
  1. Defining market opportunities, or arriving at insight 
  2. Positioning solutions, and learning to articulate value
  3. Structuring delivery by constraining and prioritizing capabilities 
Through a mix of lecture and hands-on exploration, participants gain familiarity and competency with the tools used by product managers to think strategically and execute effectively.

  • Engineers and designers, who work with product managers and need to better understand how to communicate with them effectively
  • Business leaders, interested in bringing new forms of creative problem solving and design thinking into their groups in order to change and direct the organizational culture
  • Product managers, looking to expand their skillset to think about their job through a design lens

Learning objectives
As a result of taking this training in product management, participants should be able to:
  1. Identify latent needs in qualitative research. This provides participants with the ability to identify important insights that can become foundational elements. 
  2. Think critically about what people want, need, and desire. This provides participants with the ability to be keen observers of behavior and identify hidden or non-obvious opportunities. 
  3. Speak confidently about complex and ill-defined ideas. This gives participants the ability to compel and persuade their peers to follow them in a particular strategic direction. 
  4. Describe the value of a new product. This provides participants with the language necessary to convince a team – and themselves – that an idea is worth pursuing. 
  5. Identify the sequence and pacing of developing and releasing new features. This provides participants with the ability to work in a resource constrained environment and to show how small ideas build to big results. 
  6. Produce visual artifacts that simplify complex ideas. This gives participants the ability to synthesize complexity so that other people can understand and support a new idea.

Skills Developed
  • Product insight identification.  Successful product ideas come from an understanding of human needs and desires, and meaningful empathy with the people being served. Participants will learn to develop product insights based on a process of qualitative research, translation, and synthesis. 
  • Product brainstorming.  At the heart of a product is a story – an optimistic view of how the future will be different if a particular product exists. Participants will learn how to create multiple visions of the future through forced provocation, in order to support an emergent story of value.
  • Product roadmapping. Creating a product is a long and winding road, and development pacing is always resource constrained. A product roadmap describes how features and value will be added incrementally in order to build to a cohesive and larger whole. Participants will learn how to develop a cohesive product roadmap.
  • Downselection and positioning. Developing a new product requires understanding the context in which that product will be considered. Positioning methods, like a 2x2 and a Box on the Shelf are used to evaluate the relative context of a product against other ideas. Participants will learn how to leverage a 2x2 as a filter for ideas, and a Box on the Shelf exercise to develop the externally facing positioning statements for the product.

What's included?

Video Icon 8 videos File Icon 11 files Text Icon 6 text files


Lecture: Introduction to Product Management
14 mins
Your project
Project Brief
50.9 KB
Project Pattern Cards
19.4 KB
Project Transcription Utterances
85.5 KB
Moving from Data to Insight
Lecture: From Data to Insights
18 mins
Assignment 1: Move from Data to Insight
Insight Combination
Lecture: Insight Combination
15 mins
Assignment 2: Perform an Insight Combination
2x2 Analysis
Lecture: 2x2 Analysis
9 mins
Assignment 3: Perform a 2x2
"Ability To Capability Statements"
Lecture: "Ability To" Capability Statements
8 mins
Assignment 4: Develop "Ability To" Statements
Box on the Shelf
Lecture: Box On The Shelf
8 mins
Assignment 5: Build the Box On The Shelf
Product Roadmapping
Lecture: Product Roadmapping
9 mins
Assignment 6: Create the Product Roadmap
Lecture: Conclusion
2 mins
Slides: Introduction to the Course
1.12 MB
Slides: From Data to Insight
1.98 MB
Slides: Insight Combination
2.57 MB
Slides: Product Management
2.65 MB
Slides: "Ability To" Capability Statements
570 KB
Slides: Box On The Shelf
1.13 MB
Slides: Product Roadmapping
265 KB
Slides: Conclusion
119 KB

Strategy, Innovation, and Education

Modernist Studio generates strategic value through non-traditional ways of thinking, brings that value to life through beautiful and functional design, and teaches organizations to harness the power of their own corporate creativity. 


Who is this for?

This course is for designers, technologists, product managers, and anyone else working in product and service development. No previous service design experience is required.

Do I have to complete the course in a certain amount of time?

Nope! The course is built for you to learn at your own pace. Just dive in whenever you have time!

Who are you?

My name is Jon, and I'm a partner at Modernist Studio. Modernist is a strategy, design and education consultancy; in our business, we help our clients tame the complexity of technology in their product and service offerings. We do all of the things you'll learn in this course!

What forms of payment are accepted?

We accept all major credit cards.