👋 Hey, Pramod George here! Welcome to ✨ The Business Of Products Newsletter✨. Every other week I share insights about building products, processes, and teams that work!
Over the years, I have been fortunate to work with many product owners/ managers/ leaders. Some were great professionals, some were less than ideal. But this exposure helped me compare and contrast what separates the great product managers from the ‘meh’ one.
In my own pursuit to become an effective product manager, here are my observations for the 7 habits of highly effective product managers.
1. A great PM understands and can articulate the problems of the user well.
The core functionality of the PM is to understand the user’s problem well enough to represent them to the team. An effective PM takes the effort to walk in the shoes of the customer and employs multiple ways to empathize with the struggles of the customer.
2. A great PM helps the team empathize with the problems of the user.
Once the PM understands the problems of the customers/ users, a great PM goes the distance to help the team, empathize with the problems of the user. This is a more difficult task. A great PM uses creative solutions, tools, and methods to help communicate and feel the struggles of the user.
This is a critical step because, in an Agile SDLC method, the team is responsible for defining the solution and unless the team understands, or more importantly can empathize with the user’s problems, the solution may be lacking.
3. A great PM understands the domain and competitors well.
A great PM strives to become the expert on the domain and market in which the team is building the product? They employ different research techniques (primary and secondary) to understand and document this knowledge in easy-to-read ways.
4. A great PM validates the ideas for solutions with the customer before the development teams build the solution.
A great PM spends a lot of time with the customer/ user to show them the solution and see if they are excited by the solution and uses their feedback to prioritize the backlog based on value to the customer. This protects the development team from spending millions of dollars building products whose value proposition hasn’t been validated. This is called the “build trap” and is a trap that a lot of bad product managers allow their teams to fall into. A great product manager
5. A great PM can market the product (internally and externally) using digital solutions on digital platforms.
Great PMs are good salespeople as well. They are good at helping customers understand the value of their product. They are familiar with tools and techniques to market the product and measure the success of these marketing campaigns.
Additionally, great PMs have a social presence and have a radius of social influence, not to mention that they have great presentation skills.
6. A great PM shares regular updates with all stakeholders and incorporates their feedback.
Stakeholders are an inescapable fact of software development and they need to be given the right information at the right time regularly. Great PMs understand that they share their ownership for the success of the products with their stakeholders and so keep all stakeholders informed and get their feedback and incorporate them into the backlog.
7. A great PM is ready to pivot (has plan B) if necessary.
No plan survives first contact with the market. A great PM plans for this risk and has a plan B ready if plan A fails. The difference between a normal and great PMs is that great PMs are a master strategist!
Things to remember
You will notice that nowhere do I mention that a great PM is someone who writes great documents. Now that doesn’t mean that documentation is not important, it’s more important that the PM ensures that everyone is on the same page. This is a crucial point because many product managers fall into the trap of thinking that if they write better documentation, then the teams will understand the expectations from them.
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