Things that no one tells you about being a Product Manager

Be a broken record!Be a broken record!

I usually tell folks I am an Accidental Product Manager and there are times I wish when I was not as clueless as I was. Here are the things I have picked up the hard way over the way about being a Product Manager.

Product Managers are lowest common denominators: While it’s not easy to accept it, there is simply no other way around this. When Products, Features and Outcomes don’t happen it’s easy to blame someone or the other but the PM is usually responsible to keep the slate clean and make sure that most of these things don’t usually happen.

Do whatever it takes to make it work: I have hired & fired folks, done Sales, some Product Marketing and some ugly mockups/wireframes and more to make the sure the ball is always rolling. When no one is ready to do something that needs to be done, you go out there and either get them to do it or make it happen. Either solve problems with Persuasion, Passion or go bust!

Be Comfortable with Jack of all trades: While you typically interface with Biz, Design, Engineering, Marketing and Operations a lot you will soon notice that you know some parts of what they do and nothing more. I used to be intimidated easily by all this till I caved in when my boss told me that Product Management is at the epicentre of everything. Also if you know truly more than your peers in some domains you are setting a really low bar for hiring. If all of the peers you deal with know more than you in their domain keep going!

Your job is not to come up with ideas: Probably the biggest misconception I had was that I had to be that guy to come up with all of the solutions/ideas for the problems. TL:DR? I tried to do it and developed half assed solutions. When you start thinking about the Problem that needs to be solved and for whom, you realise that ideas can come from any corner of the room. Be a curator of ideas and make sure you choose the best idea/solution in the room.

Experiment with anything and everything  Use data to drive assumptions and then use those assumptions to build tests that will help drive the experiments which will help you make your product roadmaps and features. It’s easy to do a lot of things but usually hard problems become easy when you use Data and Intuition to solve them.

Don’t operate and build things in vacuum Get out of your office building and get as close as you possibly (& legally) can to your users. Understand everything: What, Why and How of their usage. Do a mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis to truly understand your customers. You can’t build anything that makes sense unless you know who you are building it for. Also don’t take up Products aimed at people you don’t like building stuff for period.

Go own whatever you are doing and be proud about it! :)

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