When you think of best in class product managers, what companies come to mind?
All the valley companies? In fact don’t we have a label, “West Coast Product Management”? True or not sounds cool like NFL’s West Coast Offense. If you were to do unaided recall survey among most in social media it is highly likely we will find these in the top of the list, (in no particular order)
When you think about what sets these top notch product managers apart, what traits come to your mind? There is a question in Quora that slices it even further,
What distinguishes the Top 1% of Product Managers from the Top 10%?
If we assume normal distribution of product manager quality levels, this question asks what distinguishes those who are 2.34 sigma over mean from those who are merely 1.285 over mean. That is some precision.
And the answer that received 2500 votes lists a long list key traits. I do not know how one can measure many of them objectively. And this most popular and long answer not once mentions the word, “customer”. Other not so popular answers list customers and understanding customer needs. But none of the answers take it to next step – from understanding and serving customer needs to getting fair share of value created by serving those needs.
Even my own survey (that used forced point allocation ) on product management skills, did not include aspects of customer value creation and value capture. If you think about it, all the traits listed in Quora (Design, Copywriting, …) or in my survey (Strategic thinking, Hustle, …) these are really secondary to the True North function of a product manager.
- Understand customer needs – Analytic skills, Usability analysis, etc.
- Decide on (prioritize) needs to serve based on value created and the share of value you can get – strategic thinking, forecast and measure, …
- Build an offering, Maximally Valued Product, that does it better than alternatives and in cost effective way – Simplify, Design, Hustle, Influence, make technical trade-offs
- Position it in the minds of customers – Presentation skills, Copywriting and the rest
- Make it easy for customers to get it – Sales enablement, Buying experience etc
After all, what is a product but a value delivery vehicle? And all those great design, frictionless UI and copywriting do not make a product until you define a set of customers whose needs you meet and who want to pay you for fulfilling that need.
Is that the product manager you have in mind?