What does a product manager do?

What many people don't know about product managers is that the job has little to do with the discipline you've been trained for.

Product management is essentially a creative function that sits at the intersection of growth, development and UX. Curiosity, multidisciplinary thinking and the confidence to counter ideas and requests with critical questions are all signs of a great product manager.

Though PMs tend to come from the ranks of top dev, design and support leads, you need to develop an entirely different set of skills for this role.

The most important shift you make is changing your mindset from "doer" to "thinker."

The product manager's main role is to answer the following question:

What problem are you trying to solve?

With that answer in hand, the PM defines the product vision in terms that the rest of the company and its customers can understand. Then they set out to decide what should be built.

Product managers are in it for the creative challenge of bringing valuable, usable and feasible products to market. That includes being intuitive enough to quickly evaluate opportunities to find the most promising ones. (Which means saying “NO” a lot.)

It also means they're busy negotiating with customers and stakeholders, thinking about the future of the product and working out the evidence they need to get everyone else on board.

This is an incredibly valuable combination of interpersonal skills, a data-driven mindset and a healthy gut instinct that isn't easy to find. That's why the best product managers spend years out in the field in different roles before they take on the responsibility of really “owning” a product.

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