So you want to be a product manager, part 3: Play to your strengths

Posted On Oct 11 2016 by

This post is a personal reflection on the excellent post written Rohini Vibha and introduced earlier on Hectic Pace. See part 1 and part 2.

3. Product Managers are neither designers nor engineers. 

Do what you do best. Focus on strategy and the desire of end-users. Not all of us will have the luxury of product development divisions waiting to contribute their best lines of code to a problem, but a product manager must emphasize strategy and vision.

You will be inclined to pick colors and layouts and sand the rough edges of workflows and user interfaces. Unless you’re also the lead user experience person or code-writer, you must avoid phrases like “move it up and to the left and make it a little more purple.”

A product manager’s key role is strategic, not tactical. If you’re lucky enough to have divisional peers, the other organizations will support your strategic efforts, you won’t be supporting others’ tactical tasks. This sounds a bit arrogant, but remember parts 1 and 2 of this blog post. A product manager owns the problem. A product manager is the voice of the user / customer.

Strategy pizzleStrategic thinking and leadership means providing focus and direction for the constant stream of organizational and individual actions with the future needs and direction of the organization in mind. Keep in mind that the confidence that often comes with product management is a double-edged sword. If the product team isn’t doing its job, then others will try to fill that gap. A colleague of mine used to always say (with rolling eyes and exasperation), “Everyone wants to be a product manager.” It does look fun sometimes. But there’s enough to do to be a good product manager without also being head engineer, designer, marketeer, and sales lead.


Last Updated on: January 19th, 2024 at 12:22 am, by Andrew K. Pace

Written by Andrew K. Pace

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