Escaping the Build Trap

Escaping the Build Trap

Melissa Perri

How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value


This book emphasizes the importance of effective product management in creating valuable products. The author addresses the common problem of companies falling into the "build trap," where they focus solely on building more features without considering the actual needs of their customers or the value those features bring.

Perri argues that product management should be centered around understanding customer needs, aligning the product strategy with business goals, and continuously experimenting and iterating to deliver real value. She introduces the concept of the "product manager's job" and emphasizes that it goes beyond simply managing a product team. Instead, it involves taking ownership of the product vision, prioritizing work based on customer value, and aligning efforts across different functions within the organization.

The book provides practical guidance on how to escape the build trap and shift towards a more effective product management approach. Perri introduces strategies such as mapping the product landscape, prioritizing customer needs, defining a clear product strategy, and adopting agile practices. She also emphasizes the importance of collaboration and communication within cross-functional teams, as well as the need for a culture that values learning and embraces experimentation.

From a founder's perspective, the book is essential as it highlights the critical role of effective product management in the success of a company. It emphasizes the need to focus on delivering real value to customers, rather than getting caught up in building more features or chasing the competition. By adopting the principles and practices outlined in the book, founders can ensure that their product strategy is aligned with business goals and that they are continuously learning and iterating based on customer feedback.

"Escaping the Build Trap" serves as a valuable resource for founders looking to build sustainable and successful businesses. It offers practical insights and strategies to help them navigate the challenges of product management, enabling them to create products that truly meet customer needs and deliver long-term value. By embracing these principles, founders can avoid the build trap and build products that have a meaningful impact in the market.

Three Key Learnings:

  1. Customer-Centricity: Prioritize understanding customer needs and aligning them with your product strategy. Conduct user research, gather feedback, and iterate based on customer insights. Focus on delivering real value to your customers rather than chasing feature development.
  2. Product Vision and Strategy: Define a clear product vision that aligns with your business goals. Create a roadmap that outlines the strategic direction of your product and guides your decision-making. Continuously evaluate and refine your strategy based on market dynamics and customer feedback.
  3. Agile and Iterative Approach: Embrace agile practices and iterative development. Break down work into smaller, manageable increments to deliver value faster. Foster a culture of learning, experimentation, and continuous improvement. Encourage cross-functional collaboration and empower teams to make decisions and take ownership of their work.
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