Interview Question: How Do Product Managers Handle Success?

The interviewer poses the folloing question:
"You, and your team, were involved in a successful launch of a new product that exceeded business expectations during its first phase - what would you do?"

First I would Celebrate [with the team of course] and then….

Follow Brian Lawley’s advice which is stay humble and give credit to the team.

Following that it would be critical to analyse all the activities that led to the success launch of the product. State that as the product manager I'd have the over view of all activities but the analyse will be designed to get into the detail.

Were standard processes and procedures followed? – If they where then that’s fine, if not find out what was done differently and then suggest that the particular process might be improved in the light of the current success.

How was the interaction between the various stakeholders? Did the requirements change? What methodology did the development use: Scrum, DSDM, Waterfall (probably not!). Were there code reviews, was there pair-programming for those real in-depth tricky aspects of the code base.

How was the marketing tasks carried out? – What budget was spent on promoting the product via to launch compared to other product launches? How was the sales team trained?

Round up your answer by stating that you would document the feedback – coupled with your own observations and recommendations and then work towards embedding the improvements into the 'departments and company culture' so that the next phase and next product launch will be even more successful. Finally state that you would share and discuss your finding with your colleagues via case-study on the departmental blog and/or team meeting, thus functioning around CMMI level 2 to 3.


  1. It's so in vogue to hate on waterfall these days. It's not bad in all situations, in a hardware company for example, it often makes sense due to the difference in time cycles between hardware/firmware/software.

  2. Hi Paul,
    I agree with the use of waterfall with hardware/firmware/software - when it come to designing hardware products. I guess that I've had some bad experiences when using waterfall in a web dev environment so tend to shy away from it and even ditch it now and again.

  3. As a product manager I tend be very paranoid :) Success attract a lot of competition. I would look at ways to create barriers to competition and understand our long term competitive adventage.

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