Why Product Management Is Like Parenting

In my First post on parenting as a product manager, we’ve covered how to understand your baby customer. Today we will continue to build on our foundation and talk about identifying customer needs, creating a “baby tree” to select the best solutions for those needs, and prioritizing them. Finally, we will help you control the daily chaos by mapping your babyactivities.

More from Erik WidmanHow to Parent Like a Product Manager

A dads Perspective on customer needs

As I mentioned, the needs of babies are fundamental compared to the needs of adults. Of my oversimplified fathers perspective, I can categorize these needs into one of five buckets:

Eat – These little balls of energy need fuel to power their engine.

Sleep — As your baby grows like crazy, he will need plenty of sleep, especially in the first two months.

Poop – Everyone poops.

Play – This is how children develop many motor, language and social skills.

Comforting – We all need a little love now and then, and so does your baby. Be generous with hugs and kisses.

That’s it! Now, some people may argue that a baby needs more than that. You will be influenced by your family, friends and the internet. Companies will try to sell you other baby needs, for example, how your baby needs a meditation tree to find their inner Zen. In my mind, these are pseudo-needs created by marketing or emotion rather than science and logic. We can group these needs into a “everything else” bucket for now and save them for a rainy day. Let’s put on our product manager (PM) hats and try to meet these five customer needs.

The baby tree frame

Now that we have identified the needs of our customers, we want to start imagining solutions to those needs and understanding the different features of each solution. Step into the baby tree frame.

A decision tree

At the top level of our baby tree, we find the five previously identified baby needs. Then we will map our different solutions for the needs of the baby on the second level. When brainstorming, you can come up with many ideas, but try to pick one to three solutions per need. Good work! We are on a roll.

Then we can map all the features of each solution. Don’t consider these features just as advantages, as they can also highlight the disadvantages of a solution.

Let’s walk through an example. In our box under dietary need, we have listed breastfeeding and formula as two solutions (let’s assume we’re talking about a newborn). The characteristics of breastfeeding are that it is free, it is on demand (no food preparation is necessary) and there are health benefits associated with breastfeeding. For formula milk, the characteristics are that the breastfeeding partner will not have breast pain, and the non-breastfeeding partner can also participate in breastfeeding. Then you can discuss the features of each solution with your partner and choose the solution that suits you!

The beauty of the baby tree framework is that it allows you to visualize solutions and features and make a more rational decision on what will work best for your family. One of the challenges of being a new parent is being constantly stressed. It’s hard to make a good decision at 3 a.m. when your baby has been up all night. Creating a baby tree frame will hopefully reduce the amount of Amazon panic buying you do in the middle of the night.

When considering solutions to our baby’s needs, we should also consider whether we should try to solve all of our child’s problems. There is a good type of wrestling that encourages motor skills and cognitive development, and parents should use common sense to identify these situations. We also need to consider the cost of our solutions (for example, more expensive is not always better) and recognize the different customs and traditions in raising children in various cultures around the world.

Prioritization with BBUCC

We mapped the baby’s needs and used the baby tree framework to identify solutions to those needs. The problem is that we now have many solutions, and we may not know where to start. As parents, we are already stressed and thisIt’s easy to focus on the wrong thing and fulfill needs that aren’t crucial right now.

As PMs we like to use various frameworks and try to quantify a product features to help us prioritize what will have the most impact. We can do the same type of quantitative prioritization of our baby solutions and identify whatis most important right now. We will use the BBUCC framework to do this.

BBUCC Framework for Parenting as a Product Manager

  • Baby development — Does the solution help your baby’s development?
  • Baby Happiness — How happy will this solution make your baby?
  • Urgency — Do you need to solve this need right now?
  • Confidence — How confident are you in the solution? How much research have you done?
  • Cost — Is it cheap or expensive?

For baby’s development, baby’s happiness, urgency and confidence, you will rate the solution one (low), three (medium) or five (high). When scoring cost, the scale reverses; five (cheap), three (average cost) and one (very expensive). To calculate a prioritization score of the solution over the others, you simply multiply all the categories together. A higher score means the solution will have more impact.

Solution impact = BxBxUxCxC

Lets look at an example. Let’s say I’m trying to figure out if I should buy a toy ball for my six-month-old baby. Using the framework, I decided that the ball contributes to the average development of the baby (three), it will not bring much happiness at this young age (one), it is not an urgent solution (one), I ‘ve done some research to verify this (three), and it’s an inexpensive solution (five). Using BBUCC I get:

Solution impact = 3x1x1x3x5 = 45

I can now stack this on top of other solutions I’ve noted with BBUCC.

A table

We can see that in our example the framework shows us that getting custom diapers is more important for our baby’s needs. In practice, you might struggle to find the time to create these priority lists, but at a minimum, you should think about these five categories when making decisions about what to buy for your baby.

Mapping your baby’s storys day

To be a good parent, you need to be prepared for situations that arise throughout the day. It’s very hard at first when you’re a babyThe schedule seems to change almost every day, but over time you will start to find your daily routine.

Story Mapping a babyThe user journey throughout the day is a very effective technique to ensure you have the right tools for the babytheir needs during the day. Take a look at the story map below:

An organizational chart

First, we create the backbone by dividing the day into morning, afternoon, and evening. Then we map the baby’s user journey throughout the day. If you are working in a two-parent team, you can label each task with who is responsible for supervising.

Finally, we can define the features needed to enable each baby user task. In practice, the features will be different activities or items needed to accomplish the baby’s specific task. Lets look at some examples. For lunch, we identified that we needed oatmeal and a high chair. For the afternoon walk we will need the stroller and sunglasses. History of mapping the babys day lets you stay ahead of the game by visualizing what you need to keep your little one happy.

More in the productSmoke test: overview and practical guide


Once again, we’ve proven that we can use the skills and tools of a PM in new ways to make parenting a little easier. But weIt’s not over: in Part 3, we’ll talk about execution, agility, and customer feedback. Check back soon for part three of Parenting Like a Product Manager.