Product Management… What exactly is that?
In my last posts, I have been talking a lot about Product Management,
Then I spoke about some myths and misconceptions about this role that I have read or heard from people.
But I’m sure the question here still is… What exactly is Product Management?
So let’s talk about it —
Marty Cagan in his book Inspired (the bibles for PM and Agile) describes a PM at the simplest level.
“He or she is responsible for evaluating opportunities and determining what gets built and delivered to customers.”
But if it was that simple to comprehend this role, he wouldn’t have spent the rest of the book explaining why its one of the most fundamental roles in the tech industry and what a product manager actually has to do to deliver on the description mentioned above.
He then also goes on to mention
“The product is the result of what the product team builds, and the product manager is responsible for what the product team will build.
So, this is why the product manager is the person we hold responsible and accountable for the success of the product.
When a product succeeds, it’s because everyone on the team did what they needed to do. But when a product fails, it’s the product manager’s fault.”
Usually, when people try to find more information about the role, they will almost definitely stumble across this Venn diagram.
This is one of the most popular visuals when describing Product Management.
In an extremely zoomed-out perspective, sure this works to give some idea of the domains we mostly focus on, but if you show this to actual Product Managers, you’ll get a nice chuckle.
Can you gauge anything about what we actually do in this role from this diagram? I personally did not when I saw this.
So I tried to find something that could give more context to this position, but I couldn't.
So I went ahead and made my own.
So here is my attempt. It helps paint a clear picture of what is required for this role. Maybe this will bring more clarity to you as well.
And I will spend the next few posts talking about these skills in detail.
So let’s break down the overarching three sections, all equally important —
User Product Vision, User Empathy and Effective Communication.
A Product Manager is nothing without a user. Each product is to be used by someone, be it a by an average smartphone user, a business client or even an internal stakeholder at your company.
This is usually a starting point for any product. We spend a lot of time listening, understanding and pondering on what users need, want, and wish for.
So it's extremely important for a PM to possess this skill since the success of the product depends entirely on how well you were able to identify the needs of your user and build a product that achieves those according to the metrics you defined for the success. We call these KPIs. These could be to increase revenue, users, or even be to reduce bugs, inefficiencies etc.
Once we have a good understanding of what your user’s requirements are (the WHY), then its time to figure out an overview of WHAT should be done, HOW it should be done, by when it should be done.
The person WHO is tasked with this job is the PM, and great leadership is key to be able to really make this vision a reality.
They must figure out the best way to achieve these requirements in a sustainable and realistic manner, which also simultaneously achieves any goals that the company has on a business level.
A good PM, in my opinion, understands what it takes to create a long-lasting product that can keep achieving our KPIs. They are able to estimate the time, effort and functional requirements of this product from inception to release and inspire their team to achieve these set goals.
Good communication is one of the most important core skills that a PM needs to bind everything together. Pretty much 70% of your time will be spent talking to various types of stakeholders who can be from a variety of backgrounds, nationalities, and ages. Only if you have good communication, you can explain your product vision and have a successful result.
Additionally, through effective communication and understanding of human behavior, you can build good user empathy, and also effectively promote your products to the users.
So it all comes to a full circle.
This communication needs to be strong both written, verbal, and even non-verbal.
So does it seem like these are skills you possess? Or are passionate about?
If your answer is yes, then let's take a deeper dive by exploring the skill sets mentioned in the different intersections of these core skills. I will try to include interesting real-world examples or case studies and also what you can do to enhance these skills.
The first intersection I talk about is User Empathy x Effective Communication.
PS. A bonus PM diagram for you. Accuracy hurts.