(2018-11-30) Cagan Common PM Problem Areas

Martin Cagan: Common PM Problem Areas. Recently I was at a dinner with several product leaders, and I was asked what the most common areas of confusion I encounter in product teams today?

Validating Ideas vs. Discovering Solutions

Of course, in many organizations, the majority of ideas still come from execs and stakeholders.

product teams know they have an obligation to... craft a test

very often they find the idea is not a good one, so they go back to the stakeholder and report that they aren’t going to build this because the idea was not going to work.

But after doing this several times, pretty soon the stakeholders get pretty frustrated

What I try to explain to the product teams is that their purpose is not to serve as gatekeeper and just validate the requests that come in; their purpose is to discover solutions that work.

Planning vs. Prototyping

they should be quick

I tell people they are wasting their time pretending they can predict how effective an idea or approach might be without actually fleshing that idea out. The real learning happens when we collaborate with our designer to create a prototype and get it in front of a) ourselves; b) users; c) engineers; and d) stakeholders

Product Manager Competence

I summarize competence as: deep knowledge of your users and customers; deep knowledge of the data that’s generated about your product; deep knowledge of your industry; and deep knowledge of how your business works.

Ethics and the Product Manager

Dealing with ethical issues is never simple, and it takes some real skills for a product manager to have constructive discussions with senior leadership about potential problems and solutions

Product Manager as CEO of the Product

I’ve been advocating this metaphor

the main objection to this metaphor is the product manager that decides to act like the boss of the team.

Some have argued that the PM role attracts more than its fair share of assholes (and the same has been argued about the CEO), but I’ve come to believe that’s the real issue, and not so much the PM role.

Coaching Product Managers

All of the above is really an argument that the directors of product management need to significantly step up their game in terms of coaching the product managers that report to them.


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