27 Thoughts on Product Management

Riding the train this morning, I thought about what it takes to be a Product Manger. I was design roles for ten years, and product/business roles for another ten, but I (and others) write much less about what it takes to do that job. Here is a few thoughts. Please excuse typos, it was a bumpy ride.


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  1. 2
    Jeff Lash

    Great stuff (not that I’m surprised you’d have good stuff!).

    One minor point — some of these, especially the ones near the top, are more B2C focused than B2B.

    For example, in B2B there’s a 4th kind of product manager I often see which is a subject matter expert — a former practitioner in the field who is now on the product side, or a person with general business experience in the domain, often moving around through different functions (like marketing, sales, finance) and ending up in product management.

    There’s also a slightly different focus and set of skills needed — growth hacking may not be as important as sales enablement, for example. When you start getting in to other domains like manufactured products, financial products, and “services” that are treated like products, things change even more.

    But overall I think most of these apply to all different types of product management and are spot on.


  2. 3

    Hey Jeff. I also have Game Design folks who follow me, and they have a heavier concentration on BA and Eng flavored, and almost no UX-PMs, because those become producers. So yes, it’s very B2C and more product-focused than game.

    I could recast them as optimizer, functionality-focused and customer-focused. How do the SME’s focus their work?

  3. 4
    Jeff Lash

    Some SME-types are similar to UX in the “empathy for the user” department, particularly if they are former practitioners, but they often don’t have experience with design or product development. They know the domain great but can struggle with the product development process and realizing that they themselves aren’t the customer. Sometimes they try to be BA- or UX-types but don’t know the methodology so it can be an issue.

    The “business” folks are good at keeping the big picture in mind — that the goal is to not just build a cool product but solve customer problems and make money for the company — and are generally good at recognizing all of the different aspects that are needed for a successful product (customer service, finance, legal, marketing, sales, channel, production…). Sometimes, though, they don’t get their hands dirty enough — think MBA- or consulting-types who are great at analyzing problems, putting together presentations, or coming up with things that work in theory but when it comes to real-world details and decisions they struggle.

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