Improve your product management skills by being an observer
May 10, 2019
May 10, 2019
Product management is a tough role to find yourself at times because unlike many other positions within an organization, there is no educational path to product management or formally recognized training. As a result, those who want to move into the product management space need to find ways to improve their general product management skills on their own so that they can not only find a way into the role in an organization but once there make a real difference for their product and business they support.
To move into the product management role in general, you need a wide range of soft skills such as being really organized, a great listener and communicator, someone who really thinks with a customer first mentality. Of course in addition, a product manger needs to care about their business they work and the product and be willing to invest themselves into the overall success of the company. Beyond all of that, to be in the product management world, you need to have a sense of what makes up a great product. This is the challenging part. To be a product manager, you need to have a sense of design, sense of creativity, yet logical thinking and understand what it takes to make the hot dog, but not really know the details of every step in the process.
How can someone who wants to be in product management work on improving their skills? This is simple. Whatever product you plan to support, there is more than likely a competitor out there. Look at the competitor, what are they doing? Look at their product in detail and figure out what about it you like and what you would change if you could. Look at products in the space you plan to support. What are they doing? Tear the product apart and create lists of recommendations you would make to change the product. Ask your friends or peers what they think of the product to get into the habit of asking others for their feedback and being willing to take notes and figure out how to build a consensus on what changes are needed.
The best way as you can see to improve product management skills for yourself is simply to start opening your eyes to what is around you and form opinions. Figure out if you like what you are seeing, WHY do you like what you are seeing. What are the small details of the product that made it easy for you or on the flip side what about the product you used that made you hate it? Your own impression of products you use each day should start to help you identify themes for what makes up a great product and what causes a product to suffer. Again, listening to your friends, family and peers about what they liked about something and really digging into specifics will go along way for you as a product manager to form a sense of direction.
At the end of the day, product management is about taking in piles of feedback about a product. Feedback can be generated by competitors, users, stakeholders, team members, investors, your product vision and your own two cents. With that feedback, product managers need to figure out solutions and convert the feedback into features that can make a product even better. From there, those product features need to be mapped out on a product roadmap so they are prioritized and kick off execution to move the product and business forward. To ensure product management prioritizes the right features in the right release, product managers need to have a strong sense of what makes up a great product and anyone can get this skill by simply being more aware of what they do each day and their own impressions they form.