Don’t ape the West

Is India aping the West a bad idea?

Often is, though not always

But certainly is a bad idea in one area that I know of

Product Management

It may sound harsh or bitter, but it must be said and I have lived and worked in the US most of my working life

Whenever a Product Manager is stuck

Or unhappy with their product, team, traction…

He or she starts spouting wisdom from the West, more so from Silicon Valley

Heck, I did that when I had just landed in 2014

(I lived in US 17+ years and 4+ of those in SV)

Most books and blogs paint a picture of a Utopia of sorts, of empowered and capable teams, of well-functioning, highly motivated individuals

Let me be straight here.

That picture exists only in books.

People there just do a better job of marketing themselves

(That is one thing we can certainly learn from the West)

Managing teams and products in the real world is messy

Most things involving people is what makes it harder in India and the fact that building products is still a relatively new idea here.

The body of knowledge is still evolving, people are still learning and maturing, touting western wisdom doesn’t help

Adapting to real world conditions helps

Automatically expecting teams to operate doesn’t help

Coaching, motivating and training people to get there helps

Setting unrealistic goals leads to shortcuts and jugaad

And that doesn’t always help

Setting realistic goals and enabling people does help

Are you a founder or product manager or a product leader?

Do you agree?

How do you manage products and teams?