Product Manager Thoughts

Original author: Nathan Creswell
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Product Manager - A strange profession that exists in Silicon Valley. You are a mini CEO. But not really. You know how to do everything, but have not achieved mastery in anything. You have all the power, and no power. You have all responsibility, and no responsibility. All these statements are true, and at the same time are not true.

No, seriously, to be a product manager, MP, it feels like a hero of the Zen koan, to which you seem to have found the answer, but in fact you find no answer.

I have been MP for SaaS in a big company for five years. It is time to consider everything that I learned (something) that I did not recognize (a lot of everything) and where I screwed up (many times). Interestingly, when I started work, I constantly stumbled upon advertisements for hiring MPs, which talked about mandatory five-year or even ten-year work experience. And now, after five years, I understand why.

Do not worry if techies hate you. Everybody hates you. Get used to it.

I can not imagine a relationship that would be more inclined to confrontation from the very beginning. You tell techies what to do - but you don’t have the power, and you probably need to convince them with some kind of distortion of reality (which was Steve Jobs, and who was the best MP in the world. Well, wasn’t he a wonderful guy ?).

Techies automatically see you as an enemy. Why? Because you make them work. And often not over what they would like. And if you do not force, then look in their eyes useless and incompetent.

If you give them too much work, they refuse. If you don’t give it, you don’t have a “vision” for strong enough motivation for the team. And this becomes especially interesting when other MPs begin to steal your resources.

And not only techies - everyone blames you for everything.

“Where is the function I requested three years ago?”

“Why is the release date such? Did you appoint her? ”

“Why do I find this mistake after your release? Didn’t you test? ”

"The client wants to talk with MP, they are unhappy with the product."

One way or another, everyone will hate you. Customers, techies, support, other MP. All.

Well, okay - if you work well, then sometimes (sometimes) you will have a good product. And in this case, those who hate you (well, some of them) will sympathize with you a little.

Do not inherit the product of another MP

With it, you will accept all design errors, everything that they have postponed due to excessive complexity. all problems that they did not fix. Congratulations - now these are your problems.

It seems to me that the MP should die out faster than anyone. How can you not lose motivation if you are given a shemat coal and are required to turn it into a diamond?

You rarely have the chance to build something from scratch entirely. I only had such a chance in five years, and only once did I see a product yield. If you get such a chance - take it. Because nothing compares to the sensation when you did something and it succeeded.

Attend scrum meetings and chat with techies

I don’t know why many MPs consider visiting scrum optional. How else do you know what the guys are working on? How do you know what is stopping and delaying their release? How will your team trust you and may not hate you if they see that you are trying on an equal footing with everyone?

The most important thing is to join the team of techies. A five minute conversation costs a 20-page email.

You are everything

At the start, you are a sales engineer, CSM, support and everything else to do. Perhaps I have never been engaged in pure technical work and pure sales. And at such a time, you are just trying to get the next client, and not sit in an ivory tower and think up a development strategy.

And at the other end of the spectrum is a large company and a bunch of people for all tasks. And then you have the opportunity to sit and invent a development strategy. But the problem is that you are no longer in the forefront. You are no longer present at every sale, and you may lose touch with what is happening.

Do not lose touch - a good MP is happy to welcome any interaction with a client, even unpleasant. This is the only way to stay informed. Who are you losing? What do customers think about the product? Why do they need help? Do they even use it? The most amazing thing for me is the customers who paid for the product but did not use it.

I don’t know if I became the best MP in the last five years, but I definitely learned a lot of things that could make me a better MP than I was at the beginning. And in response to my Zen koan I will say:

release the product and make customers happy.

This is all you need to try to do. And everything else will follow.

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