- What is a product manager?
- Product vs. project management
- Life as a product manager
- Product development lifecycle and process
- Types of product development
- Getting ideas
- Getting to the real user needs
Skill Level Beginner
- [Instructor] The ambiguity of the product management role is near to its essence. Welcome back. I hope you're excited about starting this course. Let's go ahead and dive right in. In this lecture we're going to talk about what product management actually is. And by the end of this lecture you'll have a really solid understanding of the role and hopefully be even more excited about the rest of the course. Does that excite you? If it doesn't you can't be a product manager. You should probably leave. I'm kidding, but this Venn diagram pretty much sums up my entire existence. I also love graphs.
So product management is actually a pretty difficult role to define, which is why you don't really find any concrete, concise, good explanations just by Googling it. Try Googling it right now, and I challenge you to find a really good description. In fact, the role of the product manager and their exact responsibilities change across different industries and different companies. If at one company you're a product manager and you have one set of responsibilities, you might have a completely different set of responsibilities at another company, depending on the company, the industry, and the size.
What we'll focus on here are the core tenets that make up product management. The first and most important thing to know about product management is that you're actually not a manager of anybody. No one reports to you, you're nobody's boss, and you definitely can't fire anyone. This is actually by design because a product manager needs to continuously interact with a number of different people, get maximum collaboration from their engineers, and also the designers that they work with. Think about it for a second. If you wanted honest feedback from engineers and designers that you work with, but you're also their boss, do you think they're going to tell you if they have any disagreements with what you have to say? Probably not.
So you want them to tell you every single time that they disagree with you. A product manager is someone that sits in between multiple areas of a company and acts as a communications hub, organizer, an enabler for everyone else. So here's kind of a funny story. We once had a new engineer join our company and he asked what do you do? He hadn't worked with a product manager before. And before I could answer the other engineer said, "That's the person that stops sales "and legal from emailing you." (laughing) As a product manager you're kind of a blocker/enabler for engineers and designers.
The communication and enabling aspect of product management is a very important one. Engineers are very good at engineering and designers are very good at designing. So it's best if these people spend their time doing what they're best at. While engineers focus on solving hard technical challenges, product managers are talking to various stakeholders, users, receiving feedback, and looking at metrics to decide what things can be built next and which of those things is most important and the best use of time. Have you ever used a product, either software or something physical, where many things about that product are really good but then there's one small piece that's just really terrible? If there's something wrong with any product, you can blame the product manager.
Basically, a product manager is someone who's responsible for that product being successful or not. To recap, the product manager is many things. A communications hub, a prioritizer, a researcher, a presenter, but most importantly they're responsible for the ultimate success of the product. So your next question is probably, all right, so what's the product? Well I'm glad you asked, because that's what we're going to talk about in the next lecture.