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What makes a Product Manager?

What makes a Product Manager?

Great Product Managers come from all walks of professional life. Go ahead and talk to a few; their backgrounds are rarely the same: sales, marketing, engineering, software development, design, writing, teaching, fashion, etc, etc. The one underlying strength that all PMs have in common is executive ability.

Executive Ability

Executive Ability is the sum of all hard and soft skills required to drive a team to deliver on a product vision, to shape and implement the product roadmap. It’s Project Management. It’s Leadership. And it’s everything in between. It’s no coincidence that folks often refer to Product Managers as the CEOs of their products.

“Product Management Executive Ability is the sum of all hard and soft sills required to drive a team to deliver on the product vision, to shape and implement the product roadmap.”

This is by no means a Product Manager’s sole responsibility. Far from it. But it is the common skill that stands out in an extensive list of roles and responsibilities for Product Mangers that vary from company to company.

No Two Alike

While this core skill keeps teams on track and is fundamental to success, Product Management is also more than execution. Much more. The duties, skills, and tools out there are numerous. No two Product Management jobs are alike. Also, what is expected in one month can be completely different 6 months later.

“Diverse interpretations regarding the role of the product manager are the norm. The product manager title is often used in many ways to describe drastically different duties and responsibilities.” – Wikipedia

Product Innovation

Sifting through all of this ambiguity, after executive ability, Product Managers are the primary drivers of innovation. This means looking forward into the future, anticipating customer needs, developing a monetization strategy, and using executive ability to get the job done.

“To understand what product management is about, we need to talk about what is product innovation… Product innovation is about creating monetizable customer value.” – Shardul Mehta

A Product Manager owns the product’s evolution, from concept and strategy to execution. All the other skills, roles, and responsibilities fill in any gaps. Whatever is needed. We own our products and are damn well motivated to see them get built!

PM Series

This is the first in a series of posts focusing on Product Management. I’ll dig into different roles and responsibilities Product Managers face, stories of success and failure, and maybe even a few profiles.

Are you a Product Manager? I’m looking for feedback and topic suggestions. Please reach out to me on Twitter @brandonkeao

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