Product Managers are always technical. Or just project managers who write product specs. What even does a Product Manager do? And how can you become a Product Manager? Surely you need years of experience!
With so much information around product management, there’s also just as many misconceptions. Albeit, all with a grain of truth too!
In our recent event, Google PM clarified some of the most common myths and offered insight into the product management life and what an ideal PM looks like.
Product Manager at Google
Zerzar Bukhari is a Product Manager at Google, where he works on the Google Apps team, G Suite. Before moving to the Bay Area, he worked as a Product Manager at Microsoft in Seattle on the team that built the digital assistant Cortana. He has a background in engineering and finance and prior to getting into product management, he worked as a software engineer. Zerzar grew up in Toronto, Canada, where he started out building several of his own companies and got his first taste of product management.
The Biggest Myths about Product Management
Product Management is hard to define and many people often give vague analogies, like being the “CEO of product”. When you’re making a big career change, you need to know the cold, hard truth of what the role is and whether you’d enjoy or succeed at it.
Zerzar talked about how a Product Manager is not the CEO, but rather, the shepherd of a product. He also discussed how the role is highly agile, requiring you to keep an eye on the North Star while shifting up and down between levels of complexity.
In a nutshell:
- What is a Product Manager?
- The person responsible for the success of the product, which can mean different things at different phases.
- Founders and hackers make the best Product Managers because they are:
- Biased for action.
- Always learning and doing.
- Strong-willed and resilient.
- Product Manager is not the CEO of the product because:
- No one has to listen to them.
- They can’t hire or fire anyone.
- They don’t get private jets or golden parachutes!
- 80% of Product Managers’ time is spent on details.
- A successful product doesn’t mean the Product Manager is good.
- Success is not always ‘good’. You learn more from failures.
- Personal impact is what matters.
- EQ is not more important than IQ because:
- Product Managers must understand subject matter experts.
- Information processing at scale is hard.
- Must shift from high level to low level and back.
- There is too much knowledge.
- Knowledge costs time, effort and money.
- A Product Manager is hired to make decisions under ambiguity.
- Leave the expertise to the experts.
- Product Management is all about politics.
- Every decision is political.
- Politics is not always bad.
- Fight for the end user, not yourself.
- Good Product Manager are always in meetings.
- There is always opportunity for a good meeting.
- Never eat lunch alone.
- Find ways to help people.
- What qualities make for a good Product Manager?
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