It feels good to see an active product management community on LinkedIn. I was going through this post by fellow product manager Mohamed Anees Jamaludeen about key attributes of a product manager. He mentioned market knowledge, communication & product knowledge. I felt that I could add a few more traits that would be appreciated of a product manager.
Ability to sneak into the customer’s shoes
This is not the same as getting poached by a customer. A step beyond market knowledge, customer empathy is the attribute that helps a product manager sense the pain of the customer (end-user or business). Without this, he/she will never be able to come up with a solution that matches market expectations. It also lets you co-create with customers and effectively latches them to your product. After all retention is key in this world of infinite attrition, isn’t it? And empathy leads us to a focus on customer satisfaction, and a passion to deliver great user experience. A product manager should take great interest in delivering a usable product – the one that users love to use and helps retain them!
Ability to answer What, When, Why
Product managers should be able to answer who, why, what for and also know where, when and how to sell their products. The ‘what’ can be communicated to stakeholders via MRDs/PRDs/User Stories and prototypes. The prioritized feature backlog conveys the ‘when’, while ‘why’ can be answered on-demand to those (usually one of management, marketing & engineering) questioning the feature or its priority. Processing answers to these questions with some integrative thinking Continue reading 5 more attributes of a product manager→
After reading this post by John Kotter at HBR, I really liked the See, Feel, Change approach suggested by him, compared to traditional approaches such as Plan-Do-Check-Act or Analyze-Think-Change.
Kotter argues that the traditional approaches are “all head, no heart, and often fail to motivate people to recognize the importance of a given problem. It’s too easily forgotten or ignored if it doesn’t feel real.”
What makes me a believer of the approach? Decision making will be far realistic when evidence pertaining to the problem is available. And how to get the evidence? Go into the field, get your hands dirty! Take samples, float surveys or just talk to people. After all, empathy is so critical to getting to the root of a problem and delivering a solution that makes people happy 😀
Is that an amusing title? If yes, then product management (PM) has retained its title of being one of the most esoteric functions in IT. And this has reasons: compared to the epic number of service organizations, there exist only a few product companies, implying a fewer number of product managers – a breed that can’t be found in herds. Despite of a severe need for PMs within the chamber, the absolute demand compared to other profiles is minuscule, causing the profile to remain unexplored even by recruiters. Whether or not that makes PM a big deal, the ones that have tasted it will agree that it demands a unique mix of aptitude, attitude & innovation – that can’t be taught in class. And above everything else, it demands hell-a-lot of responsibility.
Most people destroy the niche status of product management (PM) by confusing it with project management. I would say, planning, execution & reporting is only a minuscule part of the PM profile. PM is everything about the product from vision to release which is not a simple 1-step transition. At least, it involves:
Envisioning a product that solves a problem or improves some productivity parameter
Understanding the market for the product & preparing a market requirement document (MRD)
Creating a concept to get management buy-in; At senior levels with P&L responsibility, it may accompany projecting numbers
Detailing the product functionality & behavior through prototypes & product requirement document (PRD)