Sunday, February 5, 2012

Product Management: Being a product owner

Today I am going to talk a bit about product management discipline.  Since I switched over from engineering manager to product manager, I continue to learn how to become a better product manager.  I want to share what I've learned from my daily practice of product management from time to time, and interesting articles that I curated from the webmy sources.

One thing that I came to appreciate is how important for product manager to own the product.  Owning the product means that you are the ultimate person responsible for making YOUR product successful.  Whatever stands between successful product and where your product, you have to fix.  That's what it means to own the product.
Yes, it is product manager's job to define product scope, functionality, target audience, marketability, and communicate the product ideas to internal stakeholders and customers.  Yes, it is PM's job to work closely with engineering team to ensure that your product gets built and released.  But PM's most important responsibility is to own your product.  Anything and everything that can be done to make the product successful, you must do.

Being a PM means that you are running your product business.  You have to make sure Sales and Sales Engineering team understand the upcoming features, how they stack up against competitor's offering, and enable the team to sell the strong points to customers.  You also have to make sure customers are kept in loop and make sure they are happy with the product, how they are using it, whether there is any creative use case that you weren't anticipating.  Then you go back to the drawing board, tweak the product and release the update.

Owner means becoming super proactive.  I like how Peter Deng answered the question 'how to be a good product manager':
" 3. Be proactive.  I once heard an analogy that product management is like filling in the white space between the different roles. I think it's a really important attitude to have. You are the owner. Either do it or delegate it. If you don't, no one else will. Product managers are in the service industry; your role is to serve the teams, and no task is too menial or trivial."
- Peter Deng, Director of Product at Facebook
It's an enormously challenging role.  Product manager role requires you to look at the entire product business, and look for opportunity to improve and engage with multiple departments to make sure your product is going to be successful.  

No wonder why so many startups are founded by product managers.  It's because good product managers are the owners.

This may have worked back in  Multics era, but no longer;
product manager is the most important role in fast growing company

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