This post and ensuing series was inspired by a thought I had last week:
Although “secret weapon” was appropriately clickbait-y, it was dramatic and incomplete. I was going to write specifically about DevOps (save the ‘DevOps’ phrase bashing for the actual DevOps post; I’ll try to do it justice) and specifically my friend and colleague, Jeff. Of everything Jeff contributes to me as a product manager, two of the most impactful are enabling ‘Team Agility’ and ‘Team Collaboration.’ ‘Team’ is glaringly familiar between the two, and that’s when I realized I couldn’t write a single post regarding a product managers secret weapon… it would have to be a series of posts about all the people, processes, and tools that are key to a product managers success.
And that’s how I’ve landed on, “A Product Manager’s Best Friend…” Because you can have a lot of best friends. Plus, I don’t want that to go straight to Jeffs head while others scratch theirs wondering about their importance 😉.
(By the way, I often wish the industry phrase of ‘agile’ would die. Replace it with ‘agility’ and the spirit of what that means. — future post 🤔)
Let’s level set: A product manager is responsible for steering a team towards a successful outcome. Despite having the luxury of interacting with more groups than most others in the company, it can be a bit of a lonely role because you’re often spearheading new initiatives in new situations for the first time (and there isn’t a blueprint for someone to hand you to follow). While some groups are envious of the time they see you spending with senior leadership, they don’t realize that many meetings are dominated by topics such as, “why is this taking so long?” This is something you have to embrace and find joy in to be successful. These are examples of why companies are looking for product managers who are “self-motivated.”
With all of that being said, it can be daunting and confusing for young PMs who are starting out at companies other than Facebook and Google. That’s who this series is for. My goal is to help demystify the new environment they find themselves in, their role, to help them get started when they’re thrown at a new problem for the first time, and to help unstuck them when they inevitably find themselves stuck or confused. Often, it’s a straightforward thing that can get you past 0, which is huge because forward progress is the name of the game.