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What is a Product Manager? Can I become one?


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Do you really want to be a product manager?

Lately, there seems to be a lot of buzz around the role of product manager, and it is mostly for good reasons – it is actually  a very cool job. A Product Manager is different than most managerial roles we know of- a manager who manages no body, has no real authority, yet is crucial to guidance of the product development process. 

Sounds Easy? The problem starts if you actually want to be a good product manager.

Why is that? well, for exactly the same reasons it is cool to be a product manager, it is also very easy to be mediocre. You work in a very autonomous environment, often with relatively limited supervision, and receive a lot of freedom to make decisions.

Working in such conditions can make everything seem easy until the unfortunate moment of actually releasing the product arrives. If it’s not good, it can be a pretty harsh way of finding out you need to improve – angry customers who didn’t get what they were promised, users who get frustrated with the product and stop using it and some not so satisfied people wearing nice shirts. If you and the team did a good job, it’s a different story – a great sensation of accomplishment, a boost of motivation for tackling the work that lays ahead, and feeling that there are no real limits to what is possible. 

Is this true everywhere?

The role changes from one office to another, depending on product, size of the office, or even your own personality and strengths. In some places, you may have the privilege of being both on the technical side of things, and on the business side of things. In some, you will find that you have a limited interaction with the tech side of things, but stronger on sales and marketing.

In most places, you will be in charge of all areas of work. Being in the position of playing both games can be indeed very appealing – one day you get to be a pseudo geek, write lousy code on whiteboards and play with the smart kids while on the next day, you can wear a nice shirt, present your vision to other people with nice shirts, talk about company strategy and present an image of amazing code on a powerpoint slide.

What is a Good Product Manager?

A good Product Manager is that rare person, that one that is good at everything, can understand technology and at the same time communicate with a person (not a computer) better than you’ve seen anyone communicate, one that a title is not necessary for authority.

These are a few of the essential essentials of a product manager:

  1. Process over Matter-

In the Lean StartUp world of today a product manager must understand the process of a product, from it’s core features, to place in the market so that it can develop – no step can be skipped or skimmed for a good product manager to be satisfied with the process, and for a product to succeed.

  1.   Stay Agile –

A good Product Manager tests the product based on the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) regardless of size of the company, startup, or product, to measure the product against all parameters from tech, to UI/UX, to user evaluation. Did we tell you that the product manager has to be good at everything yet?

  1. Get Creative-

        Product Managers must be able to think outside of the box. Sometimes they must think like the client, what would they want, is the product intuitive enough, others as the marketer, and often times as the tech person figuring out what features are missing or how they can be improved. Creativity is key in order to be able to master all the different hats the product manager must wear on a daily basis.

  1. Communicate like you are the Prince of Wales-

As a product manager you will have no real authority above you, or given to you. Sales will think they have the authority on what features to highlight, marketing and designers will think they have the UI/UX down, and the tech will often not communicate (sorry techies). You must be able to open the lines of communication between all diverse set of interest groups in order for all to have a united front to push this product to the top of product hunt.

 At the end of the day, the big question you should ask yourself, is not are you capable, but rather is this your dream job? your true passion? the next ideal step in your career and personal journey? Do you really have a passion for creating exactly the right product, after spending days and weeks thinking on what exactly that thing should be? Do you want to carry your work home with you buzzing at the back of your head? Are you ready to commit to the work??

If yes – we’re glad you’ve found us, or we’ve found you! Find out more and join us for the Product Management course and learn from our experience, our successes and most importantly, our failures.

 
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