Lessons for Product Leaders - Shishir Mehrotra.png

Lessons for Product Leaders - Shishir Mehrotra

When Larry Page took over as the CEO of Google in 2011, he split the company into eight divisions based on business operations instead of functional. Shishir headed the Youtube division. While this decision allowed everyone to move a lot faster, there were some issues that they noticed. One of them was how to evaluate promotions with the new setup. Promotion at Google (termed as Calibration) was done by a committee instead of your direct manager.

Shishir was asked to set up the new Calibration process. After looking at the current rubric, they concluded that the current metric is designed around an increase in scope, i.e. "Feature > Feature Group > Product Sub Area > Multiple Sub Area of a Product > Product > Product Line". However, defining promotion solely based on scope resulted in several issues.

Issues with promotion solely based on scope:

  1. Unfair across teams of various sizes: Some groups had only one product like Google Search, while others like Google Ads had 50 products. Because of the large number of projects in a single group, everyone wanted to work with Google Ads and not Google Search.
  2. The scope is an input, not an output: It is unfair to evaluate a PM based on the scope which was handed over to them. They didn’t choose it.
  3. Devalued experimental projects: Current rubric pushed people to work on larger existing projects instead of new smaller experimental projects. This resulted in some of their best PMs avoiding experimental projects, even though it could grow over time.

While everyone agreed that scope is a useful dimension, Shishir suggested adding another dimension to the rubric. This new rubric was already being using at Youtube for a while. It was called PSHE (Problem, Solution, How, and Execution). Here’s how it works:

Adding PSHE (Problem, Solution, How & Execution) as another dimension: