If Data Scientists are Unicorn, Product Managers are Pokémon.
Great Product Managers are the result of M-A-G-B-Y framework.
The tech industry moves at light speed and waits for no one. A PM may be overwhelmed with the number of decisions that need their green light and can fall victim to analysis paralysis if too much time is dedicated to overthinking simple choices. If a five-paragraph essay for emails only requires
a one sentence approval, you’re wasting time for both people across the wire. Whether you’re supporting your decisions with blind intuition, empirical data, or team buy-in, the PM has to take the reins and exercise good judgment to keep the chains moving. Time is a luxury a PM cannot afford to waste.
Asking the right questions
Asking an effective question is comparable to drilling for oil; if we do our research, prepare, and drill in the right spot, our yield will be high and effort will have paid off. If we follow a strategy in which thoughts are disorganized and we start breaking ground in random places, we’re likely to waste time and walk away feeling distressed (with a bunch of empty holes on the ground). Thinking deeply about the objective beforehand, and understanding that the “right” question posed to another individual can make or break the
interaction from a product value perspective.
Guillotine your ego
A product manager has an enormous amount of responsibility, sometimes more so than other roles within an organization. However, the inflated sense of purpose and pressure can lead to negative consequences, including feeding directly into a personal sense of ego. A product manager that views himself/herself on a pedestal when compared to his or her peers is losing sight of the goal of building an incredible product. A raging god-complex isn’t the least bit productive, and humbling ourselves from time to time can foster the
growth of a cooperative, collaborative environment.
Becoming comfortable with ambiguity
If there’s one word that perfectly encapsulates the standard product manager experience, it’s ambiguity. A PM’s personal task plan is rarely ever set in stone, and you must embrace the feeling of being lost in the water. It’s OK to be uncomfortable, restless, and anxious. A lot can change over the course of a product development timeline. An average PM looks to his or her manager to ask what needs to be done; a great PM decides what needs to be done and looks to his or her superior to request the resources needed to execute.
You’re not the expert
As much as the PM is the “CEO of the product,” it doesn’t issue a carte blanche authority over every layer of the product, both architecturally and design-wise. If a conversation arises around the tech stack that should be used, looping in the tech lead / CTO is a sound decision. For tasks involving user experience flow design or UI frame mockups, bring in the designer. Trust the teams to be experts in their particular area, and argue back only
if data, evidence, or intuition about a user’s needs are plenty enough to support the claim. Stepping on the toes of the engineering, design, or business team is the quickest path to alienating ourselves, so understanding our
unique value-add to the team and playing our position is more critical.
- Product Manager Essentials, Aswin Pranam, Apress, 2018
- The Product Book by Product School
- Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia.