The world of product design and management is fun, offering opportunities to cause disruption through ideation and innovation. Product Managers (Product Owners in the agile world) play a critical role in producing great product(s).
The role of a Product Manager is often misunderstood and underutilized of all the roles and gets confused with other roles like that of a Business Analyst, Program Manager, Project Manager and more.
The job as product manager is to evaluate multiple product ideas and decide which product ideas are worth pursuing, and which are not. If the Product Manager decides to pursue an opportunity, their assessment needs to determine what it will take to succeed.
Maintaining a disruptive approach
The product management role needs to maintain a disruptive approach irrespective of whether they are working on a new product idea or enhancing an existing product. Here are some attributes that make good Product Managers great:
- Think Big – Many Product Managers district their creativity by the constraints presented to them up front. Product Managers need to think big by not getting constrained by the resources available to them in the present market environment. By doing so, they describe large disruptive opportunities and develop concrete plans for how to take advantage of them.
- Leverage Team To Drive Ideas And Make Decisions – While the “what” and the “why” of a product form the core of a Product Manager’s thought process and focus, it is critical for them to keep the “how” and the economics of implementing the idea in mind. This is where a Product Manager is expected to leverage the creativity, expertise and innovation of the team to make the right decision about the prioritization, go to market and other aspects of product delivery.
- Maintain The 80-20 Thought Process – Key to the success of a product and the Product Manager is to how to get 80% of the value with 20% effort. They do so repeatedly, delivering more value and achieving compounding effects for the product.
- Communicate Effectively – Effective Product Managers can make a case based on suitable market research along with appropriate feedback from existing and perspective customers. Their decisions are backed by solid analysis that are impossible to ignore or refute. They use data appropriately leading to effective decision making.
- Visualize The Big Picture -Sharing the big picture of the end business objective, the vision and the overall product helps in getting the team get away from taking a narrow approach to problem solving. Being able to draw a product structure, identifying the various components, drawing the dependencies with close collaboration ensure common understanding of the vision and a collaborative approach to problem solving.
- Prioritize/Sequence – Product Manager knows how to sequence projects. They balance quick wins vs. platform investments appropriately. They are able to make a choice between projects that grow the business versus the ones that protect and remove drag on the business (operations, reducing technical debt, fixing bugs, etc.).
- Forecast and Measure – Product Manager is able to forecast the approximate benefit of a project and can do so efficiently by applying past experience and leveraging comparable benchmarks. They also measure benefit once projects are launched and factor those learnings into their future prioritization and forecasts.
- Focus on Good Design – A Product Manager doesn’t have to be a designer, but are able to add significant value if they can appreciate great design and be able to distinguish it from good design. Impactful Product Managers should also be able to articulate the difference to their design counterparts, or at least design an approach to pursue to go from good to great.
- Feedback FeedBack Feedback – A significant part of a Product Manager is spent on gathering feedback. A feedback goes a long way in bringing a product back on track from a failure. Most interestingly, great Product Managers do not time a feedback bit make it a ongoing activity. Feedback is not only important to improve new products but eliminate product features that are no more used to bring in economical efficiencies.
- Let Value Drive Their Thoughts and Writing – Value is the only measure for measuring success and decision making for a Product Manager. Weather a conversation is about adding new features to a product, removing technical debt or taking a product to market, value discussion is critical in driving every action.
Product Management can be a key differentiator between a successful and failed product and the above pointers can be considered in hiring a top notch Product Manager. Having said that, finding a Product Manager with above mentioned traits can be challenging but the list can be utilized in helping existing Product Managers strives to develop and improve along these dimensions.
Please share your thoughts on you experience with Product Management and any specific and important attribute that should be added to the list.
More on Product Management coming soon…