Intercom on Product Management book. Intercom on Product Management (PDF) A Product Manager’s Job. Product management is one of the hardest jobs to define in any organization, partially because it’s different in every company.
I’ve had several recent conversations about “what is a product manager?” With friends who are taking their first product jobs or advancing in their product careers. I wanted to capture and share them here. Please share your feedback via notes. The job of a product manager is to: Help your team (and company) ship the right product to your users Or to break this down into smaller pieces: 1) Help your team: The best product managers spend all of their time on the highest priority things that help their team. These are primarily (a) coordination — ensuring that the team is planning, making decisions, and working together effectively with a clear purpose and focus, and (b) communication — making sure everyone understands what is happening, when, and why, especially as things inevitably change. 2) (and company): 3) ship:
Good Product Manager / Bad Product Manager. Good product manager / Bad product manager. We are Product Managers. When I joined Twitter, one of my key responsibilities was building the product management organization to keep pace with the growth of our engineering and design teams and to lay the foundation for scalable product development going forward.
In less than a year, we more than tripled the size of the team (total company headcount grew even faster). As you might expect with that kind of employee growth, there were many questions about how various functions should work together, especially the product development-oriented functions of engineering, design and product management. At Twitter, we evangelized an operating model where project teams were constructed with product, engineering and design leads, each representing three equal legs of the product development stool (with other functions also providing input and feedback throughout the development process). Below is the description of the product manager’s mentality that I shared with the team at Twitter. We lead by example. Like this: Top Hacks from a PM Behind Two of Tech's Hottest Products. Todd Jackson was in a small conference room with a handful of designers, engineers and Mark Zuckerberg.
The topic at hand: the Facebook News Feed redesign, intended to declutter the Facebook experience and make it even more engaging. They went over the latest mockups, discussing photo sizes, text density, and the redesigned website navigation. Then they honed in on one seemingly minor point: turning people’s names from blue to black. Jackson, the product manager in the room, knew this was more complicated than one might think. In fact, Zuckerberg had a simple philosophical stance on the matter — that people’s names should remain bold and blue because people are at the center of Facebook. In this conversation, Jackson had to wear multiple hats. Product Strategy Means Saying No. If you’re building a product, you have to be great at saying No.
Not ‘maybe’ or ‘later’. The only word is No. The Agony and Ecstasy of Building with Data. Ah, Data.
And of course, Data’s best friend, A/B Test. They’re like the the It couple of many a young software company these days. You can’t seem to turn a corner or make a sandwich without encountering their know-it-all allure or the gleaming exactness of their figures. The hype is quite warranted. There are few tools more powerful. Alas, as with most things in life these two can dangerously overused. Don’t end up in rehab. Data Pitfall #1: Picking the wrong metric to optimize for. It’s nice to have a metric that everyone can rally behind. Writing, Briefly. March 2005 (In the process of answering an email, I accidentally wrote a tiny essay about writing.
I usually spend weeks on an essay. This one took 67 minutes—23 of writing, and 44 of rewriting.) I think it's far more important to write well than most people realize. Writing doesn't just communicate ideas; it generates them. How to Work with Designers. A Cheat Sheet for Engineers and PMs Once, a long time ago, I was a product manager.
Then, I was an engineer. For the past seven years, I’ve been in design. Every single day, I work with people in all of these roles. Every single day, I find new ways to appreciate the responsibilities, challenges, and art behind each of these three pillars of product development. To speak the language of designers, stop talking about metrics and start talking about users. More often than not, these aren’t too far off from each other. The Specification is Dead; Long Live the Specification. In the olden days, most people followed a waterfall method.
It involved writing “complete” specifications on exactly what had to be built, how it would be built, how it would work, look, etc. You’d have the “complete” package of documentation up-front and then you’d start coding. Seems like eons ago… Then we were introduced to agile development, which encouraged us to throw away big specifications and go with user stories, or to eliminate documentation entirely and just start coding, building things iteratively. I’m greatly simplifying the evolution of software development into a couple paragraphs, but you know the drill — specifications went from being necessities to being outlawed. I’d say the same holds true for specifications. I like to write. My specifications often include descriptions of things we may (or will likely) build in the future. A Product Manager’s Musings. A Product Manager’s Musings A Product Manager is a strange occupation in Silicon Valley.
You’re the mini CEO. But not really. You’re the jack of all trades but master of none. You’re the one with all the power and yet none at the very same time. You’re the one with all the responsibility and yet have none at the very same time. How to Hire a Product Manager.