I was chatting with someone the other day about what it meant to be a product manager, not so much in terms of abstract qualities, but about their day-to-day role in a start-up and whether it differed much from working in a larger company.
In a start-up, I suggested, money is tight, so a product manager has even more responsibility than usual to ensure that, by the time the expensive development work starts, you’ve already done the product discovery. It’s crucial to have a solid idea of what the product needs to be to solve the market problems identified.
I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned about being a product manager.
Contrary to what you may think, most of product management is actually selling. You are continually selling new product concepts, ideas for improvement as well as pitches for projects. What you may not realise is that what most people think is selling isn’t actually selling. Selling is listening, understanding, empathy and only then does persuasion factor in.
Do you spend more time writing documents about your product than actually managing it?
Many companies with a product management function become all caught up in the process, drowning themselves in increasing numbers of documents. These rapidly become overwhelming to manage, contain duplicated detail and ultimately obscure the real goal of product management, namely to create successful products.
As a product manager, how do you know you’re doing your job well?
Depending on your personal motivations you may want to know for your own satisfaction, to give your boss evidence at your next pay review, or to give your résumé some teeth for your next job. This article outlines the problem with traditional metrics for product managers and offers some better alternatives for measuring success: communication, ideas, roadmapping, launch and end-of-life.