Best picks from the books I read this year

Books I read in 2020
Books I read in 2020
All the books I read this year

That 2020 has been a year of upheaval would be stating the obvious. But this singularly unusual year gave me the chance to really catch up on my reading. For the past few years, I’ve rarely managed to read more than 8 -10 books in a year. This year, I ticked 34 books off my reading list. While that still fell short of my target of 52 books, I loved mostly all the books that I read. Mindful of the maxim, “some books are to be tasted, some to be chewed…”, I did not force myself to complete a book…

Competitive advantages are increasingly transient
Competitive advantages are increasingly transient
Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

One of the most widely taught models in strategy courses across B-schools globally, is Michael Porter’s work on competitive strategy. Porter advocated that companies establish a set of core competencies and work towards maintaining an advantage over competitors by building defensible barriers. For decades, sustainable competitive advantage has been chased as the holy grail of business strategy. Increasingly though chasing this holy grail is seen as a futile attempt. Today, any competitive advantage is likely to be transient.

Don’t get me wrong. There are companies that still expend considerable bandwidth on maintaining their advantageous positions. However, these are mostly industry…

7 Leadership lessons from past and present business leaders.

Image courtesy The Economist

During last month’s antitrust hearing, the CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple were questioned over the tremendous power that these companies wielded and the market monopolies that they arguably enjoy. Bar a few hiccups, the four leaders handled most of the questions deftly. While the hearing itself mostly stuck to script, one of the more interesting moments was when one of the congressmen referred to the quartet as the ‘cyber barons of the 21st century‘ and compared them to the robber barons of the 19th century.

To the uninitiated, the robber barons of the 19th century refer to past…

question your way through product breakthroughs
question your way through product breakthroughs
Courtesy: pexels-jonathan-borba

20 Questions is a popular game played by both adults and children. The objective is simple — you get 20 qs (duh!) to guess the name of the person whom your partner is thinking of. I’ve played it countless times with my wife, my niece and nephew. Typically, the entire focus while playing is more on getting the right answer. And yet it is the questions that are actually the key to the game. Ask better questions and they will lead you to the answer quicker. Breakthroughs happen similarly when building a product. Asking the right question can often trigger…

The 4 thinking caps of successful product managers
The 4 thinking caps of successful product managers

Steve Jobs is widely recognized as one of the most successful product managers ever. But his peers often questioned what he brought to the team. In a particularly heated scene from the movie ‘Steve Jobs’, an increasingly frustrated Steve Wozniak asks his namesake, “What do you do? You’re not an engineer, you’re not a programmer, you can’t design anything. What do you actually do?” To which Jobs simply replies, “I play the orchestra”. In essence, implying that it was Jobs who kept things working smoothly.

Truth be told, every product manager could be asked the same question — what do…

Gain valuable insights, and make better product decisions

Creating User Personas For Customer Empathy
Creating User Personas For Customer Empathy
Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

One of the cornerstones of successful product management is to always have your finger on the pulse of consumers. A product that is built not keeping the needs and wants of its target customer in mind is set up for failure. One of the ways in which you can be user-centric is through developing effective user personas. A user persona is a fictional representation of a subset of your target audience that is built to develop a deeper empathy for your customers. …

Photo by zhao chen on Unsplash

Facebook. Amazon. Google. Apple. These are some of the most valuable companies in the world. On the face of it, they provide different products — social networking, online shopping, search engine, hardware and software. Yet, they share one thing that has contributed to their tremendous success.

Network Effects.

A platform or product is said to exhibit network effects when the more that people that use it, the more valuable it becomes to every user. So, more the number of buyers on Amazon, greater is the number of third-party sellers attracted to the platform, thus offering more choices to consumers. More…

The power of running business experiments

A / B testing to drive product experimentation
A / B testing to drive product experimentation

In 2018, while at KPIT, we shipped a mobile app designed to improve the safety of heavy commercial vehicle drivers. As the product manager, one of key metrics I was tracking was the average number of traffic violations. This was important as it had a direct bearing on the safety of the ecosystem, which was our key value proposition. To reduce the avg. number of traffic violations, we tried out a few experiments. One of the experiments involved a segment of drivers viewing a small clip about the ensuing journey before they began driving. The clip would highlight points in…

How Uber can turn profitable


Cab hailing services such as Uber and Ola are under pressure to show returns to their investors. At the same time, drivers regularly beseech the operators to give them a larger share of the revenue pie. And customers are always looking for ways to reduce transportation costs. This article is an attempt to look at alternate ways that Uber / Ola could use to generate more revenue and reward customers at the same time. The added revenue could then be used to create driver reward programs.

Understanding the Challenge

A user’s engagement with a car hailing app such as Uber…

Sourabh Pradhan

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