The Journey to Becoming an Effective Head of Product: Unconventional Advice and the Importance of Filtering Information

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

Oct 04, 2023

3 min read


The Journey to Becoming an Effective Head of Product: Unconventional Advice and the Importance of Filtering Information


Transitioning to the role of Head of Product comes with a new set of challenges. As you step away from the hands-on craft, you find yourself faced with questions like how to coach your Product Managers, build alignment, and cultivate the right product culture. In this article, we will explore some unconventional advice for succeeding in this role, along with the importance of filtering information effectively.

Coaching and Building Alignment:

Coaching is a skill that every good Product Manager should be honing. Even without direct reports, as a Head of Product, it is essential to coach your Product Team, peers, and stakeholders on what good product practice looks like. The best Heads of Product are not only great at casting a wide net but also have a forward-thinking mindset. They are constantly considering the future and trying to solve the problems of the next generation of leaders.

Broadening Knowledge and Competencies:

To build breadth as a Head of Product, it is advisable to go beyond a narrow focus and become more of a generalist. This means expanding your knowledge and competencies beyond your immediate scope of expertise. By doing so, you gain a broader perspective that allows you to make more informed decisions and tackle complex challenges effectively.

Thinking in Horizons:

A useful approach to developing depth in your thinking is to break it down into horizons. Horizon one represents the present, where you need to prioritize and focus on the most impactful tasks. Then, consider horizon two as the upcoming year, horizon three as the next five years, and horizon four as the next ten years. By adopting this mindset, you develop the habit of thinking strategically and planning for the future, ensuring long-term success for your product and team.

Managing Paradoxes:

As a Head of Product, you will face various paradoxes on a daily basis. One common challenge is balancing the need to keep morale up and retain people with the risk of going all-in and potentially losing them. It's important to find the right balance between these two extremes and make decisions that align with the overall goals and vision of the organization. Remember, "culture eats strategy for breakfast." Building and maintaining a strong product culture is crucial, and as a leader, you play a pivotal role in tackling cultural issues within your organization.

The Importance of Filtering Information:

In today's information age, being able to filter through the vast amount of inputs is a valuable skill. Charlie Munger's advice of not reading past the first chapter of most books resonates with the need to have a strong filter. Rather than burdening yourself with bad books, focus on finding the ones that provide true value. Mark Twain's quote reminds us that it's better to have a low bar in selecting books, as even the faintest interest can lead to great discoveries. Utilize resources like Kindle samples to assess a book's potential, and if it fails to capture your attention within the first ten minutes, don't hesitate to move on.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace coaching: Develop your coaching skills to guide your Product Team, peers, and stakeholders towards good product practice.
  • 2. Think strategically: Adopt a horizon-based approach to thinking and decision-making, considering both short-term and long-term goals.
  • 3. Cultivate a strong product culture: Focus on building and maintaining a healthy product culture within your organization, as it plays a crucial role in overall success.


Transitioning to the role of Head of Product requires a shift in focus and mindset. By embracing coaching, broadening your knowledge, thinking strategically, managing paradoxes, and filtering information effectively, you can navigate the challenges of this role successfully. Remember, as a Head of Product, your role is not just about decision-making; it's about capability uplifting, coaching, and shaping the product culture for the future.

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