I recently read the question on the difference between the product manager and product owner on Quora and ended up sharing my opinion – at length. So I’ve decided to publish it here for posterity. Needless to say, there are other answers and other opinions, all equally valid.
After my slightly frivolous post last time, I wanted to follow up with a more practical article intended for people wanting to hire a product manager and, by the same token, those of you wanting to step into that role.
Now that I’ve started up a product management consultancy, I’ve found myself having to explain a bit more often what a product manager actually is. There are, of course, eminently more articulate and relevant descriptions available of what being a product manager means. But as it’s a Monday and we’re all in need of more frivolity in our lives, I’ve concluded that product managers would make excellent dinner guests. Here’s why:
I remember once starting a product manager job where it took me two hours to establish where my desk was. It took me that time to break the protracted conversation between my well-intentioned manager and two colleagues.
When I eventually found my desk, I had to resort to stealing paper from printers to take down the notes about what my product was (conclusion: not entirely clear), what my purpose was (conclusion: look busy, make yourself useful) and what people expected of me (conclusion: ????).
On the plus side, I gained a valuable insight into how NOT to manage a new starter. Fast forward a few years and here I am with a new product manager about to join my team. Here are three basic lessons I’ve learned, so that hopefully you won’t be the subject of a similar blog post some time down the line.