The time for product managers to create radical products and build new ecosystems has never been so ripe. Whether you work in a big company or a fledgling start-up, the right understanding of your role as a product manager can be the difference between massive scale or slow death of products.
To demystify, here are three things I have learnt in my journey as an engineer, a designer, an entrepreneur and now a product manager that will help aspiring product managers to do justice to their role:
Product managers understand customers — the “why”:
Most products live in elaborate ecosystems. Flipkart and Amazon live in the ecosystem of buyers, sellers, e-payments, order fulfillment, return orders and customer service. Yelp and Zomato live in the ecosystem of restaurants, foodies, deal-seekers, food delivery, online ordering and table reservations.
Product managers give voice to the ecosystem that the product lives in and validate “need” for the product with a clear perspective on behalf of all players that live in that ecosystem.
Product managers primarily facilitate — the “what”:
Product managers provide business context and use cases for the product. A serendipitous lunch-conversation with my Test Lead on how, unlike in China, a majority of users in India speak and read English more than any other language, with the sole exception of Hindi (the national language of India) helped her team understand the end-users and hence, measure search relevance better.
Product management is not about telling people what to do. It’s a supportiverole, empowering teams with relevant context, collectively prioritizing features, presenting a process to resolve blockers and work towards business goals.
Product managers handle ambiguity — the “unknown”:
Flux is an inevitable part of building a product. A product manager drives the entire product life-cycle and must constantly navigate complex hierarchies within the organization, managing changing business needs and market trends.
I find myself referring to this list on How To Be More Charismatic to navigate stakeholders within the organizations and keep the team-morale up.
This is, by no means an exhaustive list but rather, a handful of observations of things that have worked well for me in my day-to-day life as a product manager.
Surbhi is a product enthusiast with an obsessive dedication to UX, to build products that delight users, drive performance metrics and drive overall business strategy.