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Product Management: Origin Stories

Product Management: Origin Stories

For many outsiders, Product Managers are superheroes. They take on many different responsibilities across a range of disciplines and are ultimately responsible for the success of their products. Like superheroes, Product Managers have different super powers and unique origin stories

If you’re interested in product management, these origin stories can act as a guide for you to find your superpowers.

Here’s a quick hit list of responsibilities that are important for successful Product Managers to master.

  • Product Innovation
  • User Experience
  • Development Execution
  • Analytics
  • Customer Research
  • Customer And Client Relationship Management

If you’re making a career change, it is critical to pivot from a position of strength. Using your past experiences to tackle new challenges can help you succeed.

Sales and Account Management

Strength: Customer And Client Relationship Management

Weakness: Development Execution

Sales can go a long way in Product Management. You’re directly tapped into the voice of the customer and the client. You are an artist when it comes to crafting a compelling story to showcase value. But, you’re also removed from the development process. When transitioning from Sales to Product Management, get started by understanding the software development lifecycle, getting a handle on the pitfalls of effort estimation versus delivery. What have been past stories of development successes and failures?


Strength: Analytics and Customer Research

Weakness: Development Execution

Like sales, you’re tapping into the mind of the consumer but often more focused on content and analytics. Your experience generating content and tracking data for a user journey will be invaluable as a Product Manager. Challenges may arise when leading a development team, but data is your ally. Ask the development team for added analytics, measuring and validating your decisions. Keep the development team accountable for their estimates, always asking “why” when estimates don’t match up with reality

Business Analysis / Consulting

Strength: Product Innovation & Analytics

Weakness: User Experience & Development Execution

Data. Collaboration. Flowcharts. These tools are key weapons in your arsenal. You regularly collaborate with different business units, using data and flow charts to communicate value. But -, you’re probably not tapped into the UX side of a product. That’s okay if you have an experienced UX designer on your team but be aware that not all business strategies or data insights directly lead to obvious UX solutions. Always keep in mind that there is a development team who will need to build your solution.

Development (Programming)

Strength: Development Execution (Feature Complexity Assessment)

Weakness: Product Innovation / UX

Having developed multiple digital products, you’re intimately knowledgeable about how development and QA teams work. You know how to effectively lead development teams, but your strength is also your weakness. At times, the allure of technical problems and corresponding solutions will be great. Resist! Instead, redouble your efforts to work with the UX team to better understand the product innovation process. What are existing frameworks for client feedback? What tools are used to achieve superior product innovation?

Users Experience Design

Strength: Product Innovation / UX

Weakness: Customer And Client Relationship Management

It’s no surprise that so many Product Managers comes from a UX designer background. There’s certainly no one more tied to the user journey that you. You’re often the arbiter of product innovation activities as you design the interactions, hoping for positive user experiences. if there are other UX designers on your team, it’s time to let them do the heavy lifting. Focus on the big picture roadmap. Don’t get sucked into the details. Be vocal about the roadmap with other business owners and validate how your strategy will surprise and delight users.

Quality Assurance

Strength: Development Execution

Weakness: Customer And Client Relationship Management

The watchdog, champion of quality. BUGS SHALL NOT PASS! You’re very familiar with how development teams execute and work well together. You also understand the challenge with development. You’re catching their bugs every day. You also adopt the user’s perspective when testing new features, starting to give you an eye for the standards and nuances of UX design. However, you often don’t work directly with different business owners or customers, so make the sales and marketing teams your friends. They’ll help you close the gap on your soft skills.

Project Manager

Strength: Development Execution

Weakness: Product Innovation / UX

Project managers are all about execution, which is vital to any successful Product Manager. You also already regularly interact with clients and customers as well as other members of the team. However, you’ll need to build your Product Innovation and User Experience skills. Try to mirror the UX and business analysts on your team. If you’re already doing a lot of the things they are, you might be more of Product Manager than you or your company thinks.

Remember, being a superhero is about using your strengths, always aiming for growth, and doing great work.

PM Series

This is part of 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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