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ChatGPT as a product manager’s assistant
PMs need not apply, The Discourse #63
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ChatGPT has taken the world by storm. You’ve probably come across screenshots of what is possible with ChatGPT on Twitter or LinkedIn.
It’s no longer a toy, it’s being used for actual work. For example, I’m actively using GPT3 in a project that requires my team to create leadership profiles for top employees in a company. This project will fetch me 5-figures $ revenue.
With any kind of new technology, there is often pessimism of how we would lose our jobs. Sure, advancements in technology means that some jobs are made redundant. Before the invention of alarm clocks, there were literally people whose job it was to go door to door and wake people up. They were called “knocker-uppers”. But these same advancements in technology creates new kinds of jobs. Try explaining any of the modern jobs like software developer to people a few decades ago. Now it is estimated that over 24.7 million people will be employed in this job by 2024.
CGP Grey, who makes YouTube explainer videos, published this fantastic video called Humans Need Not Apply eight years ago. Even though it was before all the latest advancements of GPT-3, DALL-E2 and others, he posits that even though there have been advancements in tech throughout human history we’ve always created new jobs. But this time, with AI, things are different.
My take on it is not as gloomy. Now, you can be in the camp of ‘My job is going to be automated.’ Or you could be in the camp of - how can I make the most use of this new tool to provide more value in my work.
My thesis is that with every advancement of technology, you need to embrace it and use it as a tool for your own advancement.
What is ChatGPT and what can it be used for
For those who don’t know, ChatGPT is an LLM (Large Language Model) by OpenAI. In simple words, it’s an AI tool in the form of an interactive Chatbot that can give you answers on various topics, spark ideas, create content, and solve problems.
It’s a tool that can make you more creative and efficient. Let me explain how:
ChatGPT as a Product Manager's Assistant defines the PM role as:
“Your job as a PM is to deliver business impact by marshaling the resources of your team to identify and solve the most impactful customer problems.”
If you boil this down to first principles, the Product Manager role at its core is about thinking and communicating influentially.
Thinking involves drawing on the breadth of your experience, what you’ve read, and the context of the current problem. Some problems can easily be solved with best practices. Other problems require unique creativity to find a solution.
As far as team communication is concerned, most of it nowadays is written. It happens in written docs, in Slack messages, and in emails. Communication needs to be influential, to achieve outcomes from people who don’t report to you directly.
The way ChatGPT can help you in thinking and communicating is that you can expand rough notes or questions into something tangible. This creates a headstart to your work rather than trying to start from scratch. Then you, as the editor of the work, can refine the output based on your judgment.
Which brings us to the mental model of ChatGPT being your assistant rather than being your replacement.
When you delegate work to an assistant or junior, you have to give training, then instructions, review the work, and then give feedback. Similarly, with ChatGPT, you give instructions, get the output, and then can refine the work. And the key differentiator of ChatGPT over previous forms of AI is that you can have a conversation with it. You can offer corrections or more context and improve the output through that exchange. Similar to how you would interact with a human.
So we’ve seen how the interactive nature of ChatGPT simulates how you would work with an assistant. Let’s go back to the point about creativity and efficiency.
In terms of creativity, and given the right context, ChatGPT can help with ideation. For e.g create startup ideas.
Some of these ideas are generic, but some may just spark unique ideas such as Tweet Scheduling, a feature that is missing from Twitter’s core experience, and done much better by the likes of Typefully.
The efficiency gains are tremendous. You take rough meeting notes and the AI constructs detailed meeting notes from them, saving you time. You can write a prompt for an email to a customer, and ChatGPT writes a better email than most could.
The benefit is that you can spend more time on decisions rather than on creating documents, writing emails, and release notes from scratch.
If you’re a leader of a team, you know that you are leveraged and that what matters is your decision making ability. You can delegate all the grunt work of writing first drafts of various PM deliverables to the AI. While you still have to review what’s created, give feedback, and refine it. The overall productivity gains are immense.
Use Cases for ChatGPT
Let’s look at individual use cases of where you can use ChatGPT in your work.
- Simple and detailed product specs
- User interview questions
- Roadmap creation
- Customer journey mapping
- Job story development
- Onboarding experience design
- API integration questions
- Competitor analysis
- Meeting preparation (agenda, notes)
- Increasing engagement and making an app faster
- Slack reminder message generation
- Meeting notes
Let’s take the example of creating product specs for a feature or product. I have written extensively about my framework for writing product specs. Here is the same format, being used by ChatGPT to write a fictional product spec for an esports registration page.
💡 Write a product specs for an esports registration page for a sports media company based in India targeting gamers in the age group of 18-25 in this format:
- User Need/Problem
- Business Metrics
- Primary Research (User Interviews, User Testing)
- Secondary Research (Competitor Analysis, Benchmarks, Surveys)
- Features in the form of Jobs-to-be-done
- Post Mortem
Our esports registration page is designed for a sports media company based in India targeting gamers in the age group of 18-25. The page will allow gamers to sign up for various esports tournaments and competitions hosted by our company.
Many young gamers in India face difficulty finding legitimate and organized esports tournaments and competitions to participate in. Our registration page aims to address this problem by providing a one-stop platform for gamers to discover and sign up for various tournaments.
Our main metric for measuring the success of the esports registration page will be the number of users signing up for tournaments through the page. We will also track the number of tournaments and competitions hosted on the page, as well as the number of unique visitors to the page.
We conducted user interviews with young gamers in India to gather insights on their needs and preferences when it comes to discovering and signing up for esports tournaments. We also conducted user testing to ensure that the registration process is smooth and user-friendly.
We conducted a competitor analysis to understand the offerings of similar platforms in the market and identified areas where we can differentiate ourselves. We also benchmarked against industry standards to ensure that our esports registration page meets the expectations of our target audience. Additionally, we conducted surveys to gather feedback from users on their experience using the page.
Features in the form of Jobs-to-be-done:
- Discover and browse various esports tournaments and competitions
- Easily sign up for tournaments through a simple and secure registration process
- Stay updated on tournament schedules and details through notifications
- View and track your tournament participation history
After launching the esports registration page, we will conduct a post mortem analysis to understand the performance of the page and gather feedback from users. Based on this analysis, we will identify areas for improvement and implement necessary changes to enhance the user experience.
Here is the full list of ChatGPT prompts for PMs, downloaded by more than 800 people.
Limitations and Considerations
One limitation of ChatGPT that I would think of is that the output responses may seem generic. ChatGPT can only draw on existing information and inputs, and hence can’t create something unique. However, make no mistake that the responses are specialized. For example, outputting marketing copy and code are specialized outputs requiring real domain expertise and skill.
Despite all this, it can still provide important ideas or information that you might have overlooked. So it's still a net positive.
Another limitation is that the quality of outputs also depends on the quality of the prompt. Some amount of learning is required to write detailed prompts that result in higher quality outputs.
If you think about it, there is a real possibility that ChatGPT can become a crutch. Just how you rely on Google Maps for finding places, when you don’t have Google Maps, it becomes a problem. In the same way, are you even getting smarter if you use an AI to solve your problems?
The process of learning is through feedback cycles. ChatGPT can speed up the process of these feedback cycles, by providing creativity and efficiency gains.
What’s very apparent is that ChatGPT is likely to make us editors rather than creators. You’re not going to be able to get away with only copy pasting ChatGPT for your work. You will need to be a world class editor of ChatGPT output.
Editing skills comes with taste, skill, and experience working in that role.
In conclusion, ChatGPT is a powerful tool that can be used in various ways to enhance the work of a Product Manager. It can help with tasks such as creating product specs, roadmaps, customer journey maps, and more. The key to leveraging ChatGPT is to view it as an assistant, rather than a replacement.
By giving it feedback and guiding it in the right direction, you can improve the quality of its output and free up more time for decision making. The use cases for ChatGPT are vast and can help with many aspects of a PM's work. Embrace this technology and use it as a tool for your own advancement.
Thanks to Kym Ellis () , , Steven Ovadia for providing feedback on early drafts of this piece.
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