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Amy Johnson | Chief Product Officer PropelFeb 7, 2024 9:03:26 AM5 min read

Can I Build it Myself? (with the help of tools & AI)

I’ve been tinkering with an idea: Is it possible for product managers, or really anyone without much coding know-how, to create an app using low-code solutions or Gen AI?

I decided to have a go.

The idea is to create a tool product managers can use to self-assess their skills and competencies, and then provide them with a tailored development plan.

Tools I'm Using

  • ChatGPT: For Q&A along the way - and the Development Plan generator.
  • Typeform: For the questions that product managers answer about themselves.
  • Zapier: This ties the survey to ChatGPT without any coding.
  • Outlook & Slack: To send out the finished plan.


How'd it go?

I started by building the survey in typeform, using the Propel Product Manager Capability Matrix as the base and asking the user to identify their level for each capability:

- no experience

- some experience

- proficient

- leading strength

The matrix covers end to end PM capabilities from vision and strategy, to delivery to adaptive skills.

It was then pretty easy to set up to zaps. I initially went off on a tangent when I asked Chat GPT how to “code” an integration.  It wrote a bunch of python and told me I needed to provide the API end points. Prompt fail... no code needed, I was able to create the ChatGPT prompt inside Zapier.

First try results using GPT3.5 model and a fairly generic prompt: “review the survey and create a development plan with 3 focus areas and no more than 3 actions for each”.

Output v1:

"Based on the survey results, the two highest priority areas to develop in are Product Discovery and User Story Mapping & Requirements. Here are three actions to improve product manager capability in these areas:

1. Education:
   - Enroll in a Product Discovery training course to learn about different research techniques, customer interviews, and how to identify user needs and pain points.
   - Attend a User Story Mapping & Requirements workshop to understand how to effectively capture user stories, prioritize features, and define product requirements.

2. Experience:
   - Assign product managers to cross-functional product discovery teams where they have the opportunity to practice and gain experience in conducting user research, validating assumptions, and exploring new ideas.
   - Encourage product managers to actively participate in user story mapping and requirement gathering sessions, working directly with development teams and stakeholders to understand their needs and translate them into actionable stories.3. Exposure:
   - Provide opportunities for product managers to attend industry conferences, workshops, or webinars focused on product discovery and user story mapping. This exposure will help them stay up-to-date with the latest trends, best practices, and tools in these areas.
   - Facilitate knowledge transfer and collaboration among product managers by organizing internal knowledge sharing sessions or creating a platform for them to share their learnings and experiences in product discovery and user story mapping.By focusing on these areas and implementing these actions, product managers will be better equipped to drive successful product discovery efforts, effectively gather and prioritize requirements, and ultimately deliver valuable products that meet user needs."

Round 2

Two small changes made a big difference. I switched to the GPT-4-1106-preview model and tweaked the prompt. Now, the tool talks directly to the product manager using "you" to make it feel more personal. I also made sure it could use advice from top industry experts (I named a few) and real, solid information from trusted sources. 

Output v2:

"Thanks for completing the Product Manager Capability Assessment. Based on your survey results, it's clear that you've developed a strong proficiency in many key areas such as Product Roadmap, Product Discovery, User Experience, Agile Delivery Practices, and more. This is a great foundation! Now, let's build on that foundation and prioritize areas for growth.

After reviewing the results, it looks like we should focus on Product Strategy, Product Vision, and Fluency with Data & Measurement to enhance your capabilities further. Here's a 3-point development plan tailored for you:

**1. Product Strategy Development**:
   - *Read and Learn:* Delve into "Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love" by Marty Cagan, which can lay the groundwork for building effective product strategies.
   - *Training Course:* Consider enrolling in a Product Strategy course at Reforge or similar platforms to get formal training and frameworks that you can apply directly to your work.
   - *Mentorship:* Seek out a mentor or colleague who has extensive experience in creating Product Strategies to gain insights and practical advice.

**2. Refining Product Vision**:
   - *Workshop Participation:* Join more vision crafting workshops and take on a more active role. This hands-on experience will deepen your understanding and ability to craft compelling product visions.
   - *Expert Insights:* Follow thought leaders like Teresa Torres and observe how they articulate and share their product visions. Engaging with their content can provide a clear model for effective product vision communication.
   - *Collaborate and Practice:* Partner with a teammate who excels in product vision to collaboratively develop new product concepts, which can refine your thinking and articulation skills.

**3. Enhancing Fluency with Data & Measurement**:
   - *Certification Course:* Investing time in a data analytics certification course, perhaps through platforms like Coursera or edX, could greatly boost your data proficiency.
   - *Project-Based Learning:* Take on a project where data analysis is key. This could mean leading a user research initiative that requires validating qualitative insights with quantitative data.
   - *Cross-functional Partnering:* Work closely with your data science or analytics team to understand the metrics they use. Learning by doing alongside experts can be incredibly valuable.

Remember, this journey is all about incremental improvement and continuous learning. Start with these development steps and adjust as you grow.

Feel free to reply here or drop an email if you have any questions or need further guidance.
Keep pushing the boundaries, Amy. Your progress as a Product Manager is only going to accelerate from here!"

What I'll Try Next

  • Use Hubspot to create the email with the goal of improving the poor formatting result I'm getting in Outlook.
  • Add in the the option for users to specify desired areas of focus, then customise the development plan to plan to bridge the gap from current capability to their goal.

Amy Johnson | Chief Product Officer Propel

A product leader, passionate about empowering teams and fostering inclusion. Multi industry experience, now leading the product team at Propel, where we partner with you to accelerate your product development and achieve product market fit faster.