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Breakthrough In Solving The Problem Of How To Evaluate A Product Manager

Oh do I have a tasty dilemma for you this time around! I’ve been working with one of my clients who is setting up a brand new product management department. He’s faced with a challenge that you’d think would be more common than it appears to be: just how should you evaluate the job that a product manager is doing?Product Managers Are Not Project ManagersThe newly minted manager of product managers was struggling. It was the beginning of the year and one of the things that he had to do on his list of tasks was to set up annual goals for his team.This manager was coming from a project management background. In his first pass at creating goals for his team this training really came across: all of the goals had to do with meeting dates. Clearly there’s more to being a product manager than this.He was facing a revolt from his p-management team when I was brought in to see if I could broker a solution to this problem. The manager had a valid need to be able to manage his p-managers, but they also had a reasonable expectation that they would be measured based on what a product manager does, not on what a project manager does.Say Hello To The Puppet MasterI stated out by having a talk with the manager who was trying to come up with the goals. It turned out that he really didn’t have a clear understanding of what product managers do. In a nutshell, he viewed p-managers as sort of a “super project manager”. The only problem with this is that the company had project managers who worked on every product’s team. Clearly there had to be something different in what these two groups of employees were doing.I then took some time and met with the p-managers themselves. It turns out that they were all busy doing exactly what you would expect a product manager to be doing: studying markets, guiding product developers, and putting out fires.After having collected all of the available information, I brought the manager and his team back together. I started this meeting out by taking the time to explain to the manager the role that product managers played in his company.Right or wrong, I used the analogy of a puppet master (you know, those old-time puppeteers who controlled the puppets by pulling on strings connected to their hands and feet). I pointed out to him that the role of the p-manager was not so much to do things, but rather to make sure that things got done. P-managers are like information hubs. They ensure that the right information gets to the right person at the right time so that they can accomplish a task.The difference between a p-manager and a project manager can be murky at times. However, I pointed out that if the p-manager told the project manager to build a 3-wheeled car, the project manager would make sure that the car got built on time and on budget. However, when the car flopped in the marketplace, it would be the p-manager’s fault because he had said that a 3-wheeled car was what the world needed.A New Way To Evaluate Product ManagersWhat was needed here was a new way to evaluate product managers. Others have discussed this topic and they’ve focused on getting the product’s requirements correct. I think that this is important; however, the p-manager’s job does not end there.What I told the manager and his team was that a much better way to evaluate product managers is to focus on the four areas that a product manager actually controls. These all have to do with the up-front work of determining what product to create, creating the product, and then ensuring that the product is a success once it’s been made.The four areas include: knowledge of the market, providing a well understood business strategy, empowering the company with product tactics, and directing the creation of product related content. Each one of these areas has plenty of room for individual performance metrics to be created that can be used to evaluate how well a p-manager is doing his / her job.What All Of This Means For YouP-managers, just like every other employee in a company, need to be evaluated in order to determine if they are doing a good job. The problem is that nobody really seems to have come up with a good way of doing this.P-managers are not project managers. This means that the traditional management metrics of delivering a product on a given date and keeping it on budget, don’t really seem to apply to p-managers.What a p-manager does is pretty much all “behind the scenes”. We deal in relationships as we get people to do different things at different times. We are an information hub that provides the right information to the right people at the right time.A much better way to evaluate product managers is to focus on the four areas that a p-manager actually controls: knowledge of the market, providing a well understood business strategy, empowering the company with product tactics, and directing the creation of product related content.The performance of a p-manager can be measured. However, you need to be very careful to do it in terms of what a product manager does, not what a project manager does. Once you establish the proper metrics to measure your p-manager by, you’ll be able to determine just how successful your products are going to be.

Why Product Management Is Broken And What To Do About It

Excuse me for just a moment while I look around for my soapbox – oh, here it is. Now I’m ready to share a shocking piece of information with you. Please make sure that you are sitting down. Product Management is broken. It really does not work. Yes, some products are successful, but it’s not because of the actions of the product managers – it’s good luck, it’s market conditions, it’s the missteps of their competitors. What’s gone wrong here?How Product Management BrokeHow did we get into this situation? I think that a lot of it comes from the very name of the task that so many of us have signed up to perform: “product mgmt”. What does that mean anyway?Look, if I asked you to manage a group of people, how would you go about doing that? You’d probably sit down, figure out what needed to be done, and then you’d tell the people that you were managing what they needed to do. With a little luck, they’d do it and you’d be considered to be a successful manager.Now let’s take a look at what it means to be a product manager. You are given a product or a service to manage and a product development definition. You sit down, determine what the market really needs, and then you tell your product what to do. That’s when nothing happens. The reason that nothing happens is because you really can’t manage a product – it does not have the ability to listen to you or to do what you want. There really is no such thing as true “product manager”.Instead, what we do is to spend our time trying to get various people in the company who don’t actually work for us to do things that will improve the chances of our product becoming a success. Hmm, that sure seems a lot different than “managing a product”. However, if you take a look at the various product management frameworks and task lists out there, they all seem to think that we’re actually controlling a product. The truth is that we’re not. Unfortunately, that’s not something that any of us really want to put on our product manager resume.How To Fix Product ManagementSo how are we going to fix the product mgmt profession? It’s pretty clear that the idea of actually managing a product doesn’t really line up with the reality. It’s pretty clear that we need a new paradigm here.I’d like you to take just a moment and think back to the last time that you watched the Winter Olympics on TV. Remember all of those strange sports that you only see during the Olympics? One of the ones that has always caught my attention has been Curling.In Curling, a large, heavy stone is slid along a sheet of ice and two people with brooms attempt to make its path a smooth as possible without actually touching the stone. The goal is to make the stone end up in the correct final resting place.In all honesty, this sport reminds me very much of what we product managers are trying to do. Often we’ve not actually launched the big, heavy product that we are responsible for. However, just like the Curlers with the brooms, it is our job to clear a path for our product in order to get it to end up being as successful as possible.What this means is that our focus as product managers has to be less on controlling the path that our product is going to take simply because there’s not a lot that we can do about that. Where we should be spending our time and energy instead is clearing a path for our products so that they will be successful.Right now there are no frameworks or product mgmt books that take this approach. Instead, they spend a lot of time talking about how you can get the stone to move in a different direction. I believe that your market and your customers have control over that. Don’t waste your time trying to change your product’s direction. Instead you need to grab a broom and get to work!What All Of This Means For YouThe idea behind just exactly what a product manager is appears to be flawed. In reality, product managers really don’t spend any time managing their products. The reason for this is that products can’t be managed – they can’t hear what you tell them and they can’t respond to your wishes. You’ll never find this on any product manager job description.Instead, what product managers need to understand is that just like in the Winter Olympic sport of Curling, the trajectory that our product is going to take is pretty much out of our hands. Instead of futile efforts to change its direction, product managers need to understand where their efforts can have an effect. This comes down to clearing a path for their product to take.I fully understand that not everyone is going to agree with my point-of-view. Many product managers have a lot invested in the old school product management frameworks that exist today. However, give my ideas some thoughts, think about what you’ve been able to accomplish (or not!), and see if this new way of looking at product management might solve some of the problems that you are looking at today…

Results Of YOUR Vote: Where Do Product Managers Need The Most Help?

The results of the first ever The Accidental Product Manager “where do you need the most help with product management” survey are now in! First off, let me take just a moment and thank everyone who took the time to (1) read my really long email, and (2) hit the “reply” button and sent me the number of the area of product management that you would most like to have help with. The answers were both exactly what I was expecting and a bit of a surprise at the same time – let me explain.The VoteBefore we spend any time reviewing the results of this survey, we should probably take a step back and make sure that we all remember just exactly what everyone was voting on. I created 7 (very high level) stages of the product management process. The question that I asked everyone was which of these stages was the one that they would like to know more about?
Know – all the stuff you are supposed to do before you decide to create a product. ID customers, segments, needs, etc.
Plan – once you’ve decided to create a product (or a next version) this is all of the business planning, sales planning, roadmap creation, etc. that comes next.
Execute – you know what your product looks like, this is where you determine who you’ll be selling it to, how you’ll get their attention, how much it will cost, etc.
Create – this is the heavy lifting: understanding your customers, creating your messaging, coming up with product requirements, creating various forms of content, etc.
Refine – we never do everything right the first time, this has to do with how we learn from what we’ve done in order to get better
Succeed – how do you help your company sell your product and what types of tools and training are you on the hook for?
Next – sometimes called support, this is really all about how you work with your existing customers to prep them to buy your next product or version of the product that they already have
And did you tell me! It took an entire weekend for me to sort through everyone’s responses. I just want to let everyone who took the time to send a response how much I appreciate your participation in this exercise. Now let’s get on to the results!The ResultsSo who won? The first stage of the product management process, Know, was the winner – however, not by much! The second stage, Plan, came in a very close second. Third place was a bit farther down the line in slot #4 – Create.What’s even more interesting is what parts of the product management process didn’t win. These were the final three stages: Refine / Succeed / Next. I’ll have more to say about this later on.What this tells me is that everyone seems to be tuned into the fact that if you want to manage a successful product, you need to do your homework up front. Doing the market research and knowing who your customer is before you start to manufacture and ship products is vital.What These Results Tell UsAs an experienced product manager, the results of this survey don’t really surprise me all that much – but they do confirm a number of different things. We product managers always seem to like to focus on the “sexy” part of product management: product definition. What we don’t like as much is the grind of actually helping to sell the things once they’ve been created.This is actually a bit of a mistake on our part I think. If you want to be a successful product manager and move up in your company, you are not going to be recognized for how pretty of a product you can create (unless you work for Apple). Instead, what the company is going to be looking at you to do is to create a product that they can sell a lot of . This is exactly what happens at the tail end of the product management process.In order for a product to be a success, you can’t do it all alone. The final few stages of the product management process have a lot to do with you working with other people and departments in your company. This isn’t easy to do and yes, you really don’t have a lot of control over what they are going to be doing.In the end, being a product manager is a tough job. There is a lot of work that we have to do and it’s not always clear what we need to be doing or how we can determine if we’ve done it well.Next StepsSo why did we go through all of the effort of doing a survey? Simple – you’ve been asking for it. During the 4 years that I’ve been publishing The Accidental Product Manager not a week has gone by that I’ve not received questions from readers about one or more areas of being a product manager. I’ve been there and I’ve done it and I’m more than willing to share what I know.Ultimately, answering questions one at a time struck me as just not really being all that efficient – I’m sure that there are a lot of you out there that have the same questions. I needed to come up with a way to provide you with a product management system that you could use and to answer your questions about how to become a successful product manager.I’m just about ready to take the wraps off of an online product manager training course that I’m going to be rolling out here in a few days. This is going to be unlike any other Product Management training you’ve ever seen so keep your eyes open. Great things are coming your way!What All Of This Means For YouThis has been a good learning experience for me. All too often I think that I know everything and it’s good for me to be reminded that I really don’t! The fact that I got so many different responses from so many different people tells me that there is a real need out there for some really good product management information.It is very clear that the field of product management is still a new field. We’re all very interested in what happens at the beginning. In part, we’re correct – you’ve got to get things off to a good start if you want your product to be a success later on down the line. However, it’s also very clear that we don’t yet fully understand where the money comes from. Money is made once the product has been created. That’s when the really hard product management work starts!I’ve got your answers – and once again thank you very much for providing them to me. Now I’ve got to get my act together and create the training that you are so very clearly asking for. Give me just a bit of time and I think that I’ll be able to provide you with what you are asking for…