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What is a Product Manager?

Week 1: Problems, Opportunities, and Customers ยท Lesson 3 ยท

How do product managers determine the best possible course of action for a product's best possible outcome? Short answer: a lot of listening. Long answer: by owning the roles and not falling into any of the mistakes mentioned in this lesson.

So, thinking about the challenge Christian had to deal with - creating faster and cheaper shipping options - how would you go about sorting through all the ideas you'd hear from all the different teams, coming up with your own questions, and finding the best possible solution? 

It may help to think about what a Product Manager is, and what a Product Manager is not: 


The product manager needs to actually deal with and shape the product as though it's yours. Your job isn't to defer to the CEO, but to be the mini-CEO. You think strategically about the challenges of implementing a product, and use the expertise you have on the product's market to help shape and define how that implementation looks. But, you also have to make those determinations based on the perspective of the customers. It's your job as well to be their voice, to know what a really great product is going to look like to the people who're going to want to use it. 


But you're not in charge. Your job isn't to tell everyone what to do, but to provide a unity of vision that's going to guide what everyone does. The difference is subtle, but it's there. You also aren't there to get lost in the weeds of specific design or developing specialization. That's what the designers and engineers are for, and so the product manager has to rely on those people who have the expertise to build out the product. Likewise, you're not around to run errands or do anyone else's job, including customer support.

More or less, you are the Great Curator: you listen to everything everyone has to say, and then determines what work needs to be done across the board to build the best product possible.