The Product Manager role is a great way to become the COO or CEO of an organization. The reason is that the product manager is exposed to virtually every function within the organization. They have to be able to understand how these functions work, what their challenges are, and how to overcome them – if the product is to see the light of day.
What Does It Take To Become A Successful Product Manager?
The following diagram illustrates the kinds of competences a product manager is expected to have:
Business Competences Include:
- Thinking like an Entrepreneur
- Understanding the customer deeply
- Understanding and creating business plans
- Being able to make a compelling product pitch
- Helping sales when needed
- Visualizing the product from customers’ perspectives
- Understanding the necessary technology
- Understanding the market forces
Strategic Competences Include:
- Being able to think of strategic advantage that the product generates
- Learning to use design thinking to create user-centered solutions
- Using systems thinking to solve complex problems
- Proving thought leadership on strategies associated with marketing, sales, service, and manufacturing
Product Engineering Competences Include:
- Ability to manage programs and projects
- Apply product creation process principles during the new product Introduction
- Apply agile thinking to every aspect of product development
- Is creative and can generate and validate new product features and ideas
Leadership Competences Include:
- Is entrepreneurial and willing to take risks to make the product a success in the market
- Is a coach and an influencer for colleagues in other departments
- Is a gatekeeper – ensuring the product truly meets customer requirements
- Has the ability to communicate and inspire using storytelling techniques
- Understands how large, complex organizations work
- Is very good at negotiating desired outcomes
How does one acquire all these competences?
The most important driver is one’s attitude towards product management. A person gets the role because they have the grit. It’s easy to give up – it’s far more satisfying however to see the product succeed in the market.
With the right attitude, one then needs to gain the requisite knowledge through formal training. This will cover various concepts and models that a Product Manager typically uses.
Having gained the knowledge, it becomes incumbent upon the aspiring Product Manager to apply these concepts to their work context.
This is not enough however, thinking like a product manager means acquiring and displaying new ways of thinking and behavior that almost becomes second nature through “Deliberate Practice.”
The journey to becoming a product manager is not easy – but it can be truly satisfying. Build the right set of competences, seek out the opportunities, and demonstrate your passion. You are the future CEO!
The article has been written by Bhaskaran Srinivasan, Chief Academic Officer, UNext Learning Pvt. Ltd.