I sent out this tweet earlier today and received a response that is true but speaks to the core of the problem.
If you ask someone what a Lawyer, Accountant or Doctor does, you will universally get a consistent answer. However, if you ask someone what a Product Manager does (assuming they know the role exists), you will get anything from manage a backlog of features to delivering on projects.
Martin Eriksson, founder of Mind The Product wrote a good post years ago on how a Product Manager works at the intersection of Business, UX and Tech (you can read it here). However to someone new trying to break into the role or to my niece, simply what does this mean.
In this article, my goal is to make is as simple as possible to describe what a Product Manager does.
How does a great Product Manager work?
- Main aim: Build products customers love.
- Limiting the risk of failing (4 main risks are value, usability, feasibility and business viability risk)
- Work with customers directly to find out their pain points/ needs.
- Work with UX (user experience) to interview customers create and test prototypes and design your product (build-measure-learn). Sometimes referred to as Product Discovery.
- Work with Engineering to plan and build your product. Sometimes described as Product Delivery.
- Work with QA (quality assurance) to test and debug your product.
- Work with Marketing to position your product. Sometimes this role would be Product Marketing.
- Working with Sales to sell your product (often sales get ahead of themselves and sell what they can not what they should).
- Working with an Agile Coach/ Scrum Master to deliver on time.
- Typically work using Agile methodology (Scrum, Kanban, ceremonies like standups and retrospectives).
- Working with Senior Leadership to align your product vision and strategy to company objectives (Objectives and Key Results are good for this).
- Being a mentor and leader for your product team and junior PMs.
- Knowledge sharing with other PMs to learn and share learning’s.
- Managing up to ensure expectations within the Product team (UX, Product Manager and Engineering) and senior leadership are aligned.
- Getting your hands dirty — doing any job on the team necessary to build and ship a successful product that customers love.
6 things I look for in a junior (new) Product Manager?
- Curiosity: Are you led by inquisition to find out the root cause of problems?
- Hustle: Can you think with autonomy to solve problems without looking for steer?
- Technical Prowess: You don’t have to be a coder, but you shouldn’t be afraid of diving into technical issues.
- Leadership skills: Ability to influence and inspire your team and evangelise about Product Management to the wider company.
- Communication skills: Strong ability to build a product vision and strategy, with an ability to communicate it to your team, peers, and stakeholders.
- Decision Maker: Comfortable in making decisions informed by data, but not held ransom by it (develop a strong gut instinct too!).
Let me know if I missed anything?