BitTorrent is a company made up of inventors, engineers, scientists, designers; makers and breakers of technology. The BitTorrent Interview is an introduction to the people of peer-to-peer: notes from the edge of distributed technology, and a few words from the team we’re lucky enough to call our own. In this week’s edition: Building a great product and a great team with Jaehee Lee
Somewhere in the depths of Fort Client, you’ll find Jaehee Lee working hard as the Product Manager of the BitTorrent and µTorrent client. We made him leave his fort for a bit so we could ask him what exactly it is he does here. He was happy to explain that and more. Read the full interview below.
Jaehee, you’re a Product Manager here at BitTorrent. What the f does product management mean?
There are a lot of opinions about what product managers do. One is that they lead a team. Another is that they own a product. A better way to understand the role of a product manager begins with understanding what goes into making a great product: team members responsible for essential parts. You need people who can build the product. You need people who make sure it works. You need people who can make it beautiful, usable, and human.
But, you also need someone who understands the market and the business side of it: someone who considers what users need and how to create solutions to address that need. The product manager is a member of the team, responsible for that one (of many) essential parts.
“Great products solve a problem in the the simplest way possible. Many great products have a lot of features, but do a couple of things really well. That’s what’s important: Doing a couple of things really well.”
So, we work at BitTorrent (as you might know). What do you like about it?
I’ve been at BitTorrent for 2 years, and I can honestly say, the people. They’re incredible. Being around really smart engineers and designers allows me to be as creative as possible. The vision isn’t constrained by what’s already known or to solutions other people have already come up with. You think up an exciting idea, and nobody responds “That can’t happen,” they respond, “That’s a great idea, how can we make it happen?”
I know that you love your team; any insight on makes a really good one?
I do feel strongly that my team’s energy is moving in the same direction.
As for a good one? Diversity of thinking. I think when you get people who approach problems differently together and have them talking – products succeed.
Which is really a part of something bigger. Great teams have good communication. I mean this in a very specific way. Good communication is not the result of getting together clever and articulate speakers, but the result of bringing together kind and considerate listeners. It’s the result of a culture, one where every team member feels like their opinions matters, and that they can trust their teammates to listen.
So, if you want a product to reflect the fact that many great minds came together to make that product, you have to create a culture of trust and communication. That’s what’s important for a great team.
“You think up an exciting idea, and nobody responds, ‘That can’t happen.’ They respond, ‘That’s a great idea, how can we make it happen?'”
What do you love about your job?
My favorite part of my job is working on new product ideas and strategy. I love spending time thinking about what people are doing, why they are doing it, and coming up with ways to make their lives easier. Users are so important to this process.
I think this is where a lot of inventors and creators get into trouble, by not listening to users or hoping that users will give them all the answers. Users can help you understand the problems, but they can’t give you the solution. That said, talking to potential users plays a critical role in invention, because you want to build products that people (and not just your team) love. From there, the process of solving someone else’s problem is a creative, but opaque process. I find nothing more rewarding.
At the end of this creative, but opaque process what do you want to have? What makes a great product?
Great products solve a problem in the the simplest way possible. That’s what I want to end up with. Many great products have a lot of features, but do a couple of things really well. That’s what’s important: Doing a couple of things really well. I think being able to do everything is great in theory but terrible in practice.