Not always you get to be the original product manager. As products grow, team’s headcount increases and that is where you might be joining in. There is a history that will drive the future of the product and you need to put it together.
Follow these guidelines to find out the product principles.
1:1 interview across all stakeholders.
Speak with those that had been in the team for a while. Do not limit yourself to engineers or designers, but reach out to the C-Level, sales, and support. Each one will have its own perspective of how and why the product is where it is and where it is heading.
You want to find out what are they proud of and what is troubling them. You want to get their opinion of what is working or not and why. Put a time limit to this phase, 2 or 3 weeks top, and keep notes of everything.
Find the patterns and the rogue arguments.
Common positions will emerge in your notes and these are the core of your product principles. Keep an eye for those arguments that make sense to you even if they are not that common. Highlight those that the stakeholder seems to care a lot and use your best judgement.
Trim it down.
Run your top 10 with the product team explaining where you got them and getting more context as needed. At this point it should become a collaborative exercise where the whole team can own the list. The goal will be to bring it down to 3 or 5 valuable principles. At this point those will be core and useful to understand the future of the product.