Prabhakar Gopalan is Principal & eponymous founder at PG Consulting. He works with Venture Capital funded Startup CEOs and Fortune 1000 executives to help them with growth strategies. His background spans a diverse set of roles in systems engineering, consulting, product management, product marketing, corporate strategy and mergers & acquisitions. He has worked at pre-revenue startups with the concept on the back of a napkin all the way to large technology companies. He teaches a 2 day workshop The Craftsman Product Manager. Prabhakar is also founder of Product Austin – a Meetup group for Product leaders with over 700 members.

In this episode Prabhakar shares with us about the Whole Product concept, difference between whole product and the MVP, and what it takes to be a Craftsman Product Manager.

Show Notes:

2:45: Introduction to Prabhakar Gopalan

6:15: What is PG Consulting?

11:45: What is Whole Product model and how different it is from systems thinking?

17:00 How does the whole product concept fit into this MVP philosophy of building products?

18:00 Explains fundamental ideas of lean thinking.

22:00: Share some of the insights from the Craftsman Product Manager Workshop?

35:00: What do you mean by a whole product manager?

40:00: Do you believe a product manager’s role is of a generalist?

46:30: What is the biggest challenge you faced as a product leader? How did you resolve it?

51:00 To have two skills: makers skills and meta skills.

55:00 What takes for a product manager to move to the 1% in the PM population normal distribution curve or the craftsmen PM zones?

1:00:00 How did you achieve this kind of respect for your work? What is your process of working on your craft or your KATA?


Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 5.23.40 pm

Quotes from the interview:

  • “A product is more than a product” – Don Norman
  • “Whole products give you delight”
  • “Minimum of MVP is a lazy way of cutting short of thinking”
  • “Slack is a whole product, not an MVP”
  • “MVP works great in the early market, not in mainstream market” – Michael Eckhardt
  • “Specialisation is for insects”
  • “Product managers skills must be T-shaped”
  • “You don’t have to be an expert in everything but you need to build the whole stack”
  • “Full stack founders care about every aspect of their product/service, so they need to get good at many different things besides software — hardware, design, consumer marketing, supply chain management, sales, partnerships, regulation, etc. It takes a special kind of founder to do this.”
  • “You need to be a Malcolm Gladwell to acquire expertise for say in 10,000 hours and a Tim Ferris to learn varied skills to complement further skills and become a whole product manager”
  • “A PM should be able to influence people at any level from fortune 100 CEO to startup CEO to a team member”
  • “Value proposition is so different Craftsman PM don’t need a feature comparison with competitors”
  • “Learn and apply in a continuous cycle”
  • “Spend 80% of your time on meta skills and 20% on maker skills”

Books mentioned: