Home > Great Links > Good Read – Behind Every Great Product – The Role of the Product Manager

Good Read – Behind Every Great Product – The Role of the Product Manager

I recently read Behind Every Great Product – The Role of the Product Manager by Martin Cagan of Silicon Valley Product Group. Prakash shared me the link. Thanks Prakash. It is a wonderful read. The article talks about the following

  • Responsibilities of a Product Manager
    • Opportunity Assessment
    • Product Strategy
    • Product Roadmap
    • Defining the Right (Minimum Viable) Product that can be built in the Right Time (Go To Market)
    • Leading the extended Product Team
    • Evangelism (Working with Stakeholders)
  • Characteristics of a Good Product Manager
    • Personal Traits
    • Knowledge
    • Attitude
    • Skills
  • How to find a good Product Manager

I haven’t written anything on my own below, I have just quoted Martin Cagan.

It is a full-time job

The role of product manager as defined here is an all-consuming, full-time job, requiring a dedicated person. If you ask the product marketing person or project manager to cover the product management role, even if the person has the skills and talents required for both, it is unlikely she will have the bandwidth to do both jobs well.

It is an art

The art of product management is to combine a deep understanding of your target customer’s needs and desires with the capabilities of your engineering team and the technologies they have to work with in order to come up with a product definition that is both compelling and achievable

It is collaboration

It is undeniable that at times the product manager will feel additional stress due to the burden of having to persuade her colleagues rather than simply instruct them what she needs done. And it will also slow down the decision process at times. But the best product managers do not want the product team to do things simply because she tells them to – she wants them to do them because they believe in her and they believe in the product.

One important point in building the necessary relationship with the other members of the product team is for the product manager to always keep in mind that she is not the architect, or the project manager, or the engineering manager. She needs to trust that these people will do their job. This is especially difficult for the product manager that has done those jobs in the past, but for a healthy product team, each person needs to be empowered to do their job, and not be micro-managed.

On working with the executives

Executives can be excellent at verifying that a strategy is sound or suggesting interesting ideas, but not necessarily well equipped to set the strategy for a particular product. Executives lack the deep knowledge of the market, competition, technology, customer base and team that is necessary to chart a successful product course.

Good product managers understand that executives can verify that a plan is good, but cannot dictate a good plan.

About Work-Life Balance

Can you have a family and a non-work life and be a good product manager? We believe you can. At least once you have some experience. But there are many people that want to be able to work 40 hours a week and most importantly, leave their work problems at the office when they leave at the end of the day. This unfortunately is not the life of the successful product manager

We believe in being very frank with candidate product managers about the level of effort required for successful product management. But to be perfectly clear, it is not about requiring the product manager to work certain hours – if you have to actually ask or tell the product manager to come in during a critical point you have the wrong person for the job.
It should also be emphasized that the level of effort and commitment is not uniform throughout the lifecycle of the project. There are certain phases that are much more intense than others. What won’t change for the good product manager is the degree to which they care and worry about their product and the lengths they are willing to go to ensure its success.

It is about being a learner with some personality traits

If you are not yet deeply knowledgeable about your target customer and market, you can learn a great deal from doing usability testing on your competitor’s products. You need to be diligent about ensuring that the test subjects do not detect bias in any way, but if you do you’ll see what the strengths and weaknesses truly are. You can also test your product and your competitor’s products side-by-side with well orchestrated usability testing.

It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is that the good product manager obtain this knowledge quickly, and that it must be a deep knowledge and not simply a superficial understanding. That said, we do believe that in most domains and industries, the smart product manager can quickly learn this material.

We have found that domain knowledge is sometimes weighed more heavily by hiring managers than the personal traits discussed above, much to the detriment of the
product. A smart product manager can much more quickly become an expert in a typical domain, than an expert in that domain can develop the skills of a strong
product manager.

Read Behind Every Great Product – The Role of the Product Manager by Martin Cagan of Silicon Valley Product Group.

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  1. September 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Nice article

    • September 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Mukund

  1. September 11, 2013 at 2:37 pm

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