Product management, a designer's POV

In 2011, I changed my corporate design avatar to a strategic design consultant avatar. That was the first time in my entire career, I struggled to explain what I do for a living. While the struggle continued at my side, I met a breed called product managers in my day-day product work. Looking at them I felt my job was much easier to explain. They come in different flavours: Business, Design, Data, Growth, Technical etc.

As their product design partner, I have made deliverables specifically requested by PMs to help them succeed in prioritising the right things.I have conducted research studies to ensure they hear the right voice of customers. I have been behind them telling them how the brain functions, how cognition works, how to avoid biases, how to get buy-in and more.

Throughout my career, I have been in roles that adds value to the customer in one way or other. As an entrepreneur I ended up wearing different hats of a product manager myself. As an investor I saw in reality how and why the product gets messed up. This unique experience gave me a view into the product development lifecycle from various lenses. By sheer involvement in the process I developed my own perspectives. I saw lousy PMs, good PMs and great PMs in my career.

Here are my views around what a great product manager does day to day.

  1. A great product manager takes accountability for the product success. They know when to jump in and most importantly when to jump out of the team's way.
  2. A great product manager builds a shared understanding of the context with the product team around what is getting built, whom it is built for and why the product is getting built in the first place.
  3. A great product manager uses artefacts like product roadmaps (direction alignment), PRDs (scope, user stories, metrics)  and backlogs (features, activties, bugs to fix, sprints to crack) to align the product team on the shared understanding at different levels.
  4. Great PMs spend enormous time in ensuring there are no gaps in the shared context. If there are any gaps, they identify quickly and fix the gaps. They enhance alignment and empower the teams to deliver their best.
  5. Great PMs articulate the nuances of the shared understanding to leadership and make them understand the priorities and decisions made in the context. They fight to make the leaders undertsand the nuances better. They succeed most times and in case they loose the fight, they commit and deliver.

Product management is an important organizational function that guides the product team in every step of a product’s lifecycle. To build the best possible product, product managers advocate for voice of customers and voice of markets heard and heeded within the organisation.

🥂 to product management!

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