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Defining Product Management

Author: Stefan Stalgren Jan 13, 2016 Posted in: Blog > News

product management, Raleigh-Durham, N.C.The discipline of product management is evolving and often misunderstood by those outside it. We found a number of posts exploring the concept of product management and these insights worth sharing:

Product Management is a Team Sport

Martin Erikkson writes a post with this title on the Mind the Product blog (4/27/2015).

Some highlights:

 “Like the conductor or quarterback, the product manager is an individual who only succeeds by bringing the whole team along with them, and by working together towards a common goal.”

“The product manager’s job, therefore, is not to manage people, nor to direct them, but to lead them by clearly articulating the common goal. They should provide the context the team is working in – from the problems and pain points customers have, to the competitive environment the company is operating in.”

“The product manager’s job is to bring the user problems to the team, and then facilitate the conversations and help connect the dots as the whole team designs the solutions to them. ….It’s so incredibly valuable to involve the whole team and their diverse mindsets and experience when designing solutions, that it would simply be foolish not to.”

Rich Mironov agrees with Erikkson’s teamwork premise. In his blog post, Stone Soup and Leadership (2/27/2015), he writes:

“You’re a product leader if you draw up the menu and everyone willingly does their part in the kitchen. If you don’t wait for permission, or titles, or the perfect organization. Because the proof of the pudding is in the collective eating.”

Here’s how Brandon Chu describes the discipline in his post The Black Box of Product Management (11/1/2015):

“The core competency of a product manager is truly understanding product development. That is, how to identify which problem to solve and how to work with a team to solve it.

“Anyone who’s been through a few launches knows that despite the textbooks, a linear product development process … is a fairy tale.

“Even if you included feedback loops between the steps, the idea of neat and tidy sequential steps, where functional teams work together through a checklist is flawed. It simply does not fit into a world where technology is progressing exponentially.

“I view modern product development as a system of interconnected disciplines, working in a network, to deliver on a user’s desire. Product managers are the API that facilitates communication in this network.

“… there’s too much to know, so only a team can effectively deliver a product.”

In his post “6 Things a Product Manager is Not” (12/8/2015) on mindtheproduct.com, Masimba Sagwete writes:

“We become more effective as product managers when we accept that we need other people to get things done and start trying to figure out the best way of doing that.”

The History and Evolution of Product Management

Another post by Erikkson addresses the evolution of the discipline and shares these insights:

“It’s becoming a discipline in which you may be an engineer, a designer, a founder or a product manager – but all that matters is that you are at the core of the product and passionately work towards the betterment of that product in service of your customers.

“This may, in time, require fewer people called product managers in a company, but it puts ever more emphasis on the importance of the craft of product management. And it puts ever more emphasis on learning, sharing and working with others inside and outside our companies in the development of that craft.”

Also commenting on the evolution of the discipline, Ken Norton writes:

“Since 2005, design has become a more integral part of the development process, and we’re all the better for it. As a PM, your ability to work with designers is as essential as your ability to work with engineers. In the best technology companies, PM, Design, and Engineering combine to form the essential core of a product team.”

“Diverse teams make better products.”

Further Reading

Finally for those wanting to learn more about the Product Management discipline, here’s a comprehensive reading list shared at medium.com:

73 articles and books that will make you a great product manager