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The Myths of Product Management

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#1 Product Management Is a New Thing in Tech.

People, I got into the interwebs in 1995, and software already had PMs. Web design was all shiny and new and half the companies had PMs, half had producers, and many had Project Managers. But by the time we were partying like 1999, everyone around here had Product Managers.

#2 Product Managers Don’t Know What They Do

No, YOU don’t know what they do. They know what they do, they do everything.

#3 Product Management is pretty much like UX Design.

If only! Wow, the job would be so much easier if that was all there was.

#4 Product Managers Don’t Care About Process (or love Agile/Lean/Waterfall)

I’ve heard a lot of folks ask where product management conferences are. There are a couple recent ones, but historically product managers are much more interested in their market space than a process. This means they attend conferences on search or local or wearables. Most get their process from their engineers and their designers, and are willing to adapt to what keeps their team happy and working.

#5 Product Manager is CEO of the Product.

I’m actually OK with this one. Not because the job of CEO and PM is the same, but because no matter what it is or who made a mistake, you, the PM, are responsible. Like a CEO. Your bonus goes away when Google launches a competitor, your job disappears if you read the market wrong or your engineers estimated poorly. No matter who makes the mistake, it’s your responsibility to fix it.


I recall back in 2002 when I worked at Yahoo managing a big team of designers, and one interaction designer just hated the PM she worked with. She didn’t get why this PM was always coming over, asking her to make changes, wondering why things were late (and they were. late, that is.) She just wanted to be left alone to design.

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Designing business, and the business of design.

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