Are Product Managers All-Rounders?

If we humans had antennae like ants, there would be two positions in a company that would be immediately recognizable because they would have many antennae on their heads. One is the CEO and the other is the product manager.

Do product managers have to be all-rounders? It seems so. The main responsibility of a product manager is to develop new products. But this is a comprehensive job that involves research and development, design, operations, production, finance, and even team management. If any of these are missing, the development of new products will fail. If the product manager does not understand these things, they cannot judge right from wrong. Clearly, product managers need to know a lot.

As a result, if we don’t have antennae on our heads, we have to get used to wearing many hats. We may also be project managers, engineers, designers, human resources managers and so on. But this often confuses product managers: who am I really? Then people tend to habitually ask: where did I come from? Where am I going?

But perhaps this is precisely the question that product managers should clarify. Our job is to rescue users from Gotham City. Although hero stories are always nice to hear, such as a genius boy transforming into a batman with antennae and defeating the leader of the evil empire Four-Eyes.

But real-world stories are never like that. The genius boy was frustrated in his early years and although he developed a world-changing product he died young. And ironically, although his successor was far less talented than him he made the company bigger and bigger. And Four-Eyes was not an irredeemable villain but rather a friend and foe. Although his reputation has suffered recently due to a divorce case. But what’s important is that whether it’s Batman or Four-Eyes or their successors or the employees of both companies they all provide useful products that help many people.

So in the real world product managers don’t transform into Batman. Instead they assemble an Avengers team with superheroes like Doctor Strange Iron Man Hulk and so on. Each person can stand on their own. But the problem is that 1+1 doesn’t always equal 2 it may be less than 2. Putting talented people together to work is not easy. A person with obvious strengths does not mean they have no weaknesses. They may even have big weaknesses. They are mostly edgy. So any team that requires many talents often needs someone to do management work such as band conductors coaches… Similarly product development teams also need product managers.

So truly excellent product managers often don’t have to be all-rounders. On the contrary their real job is to gather talent and make them “react” together. They will summon those talented people and bring those with a common vision together. Point them in the right direction. Make them trust and understand each other. Even when faced with difficulties these people will not think about splitting up and returning to Gao Laozhuang with their money but will do their best even making sacrifices until they succeed.

Through extensive research we now know that the magic of these innovative teams is not some kind of reality distortion field but a trainable ability. It is a set of scientific management methods that product managers can learn master and improve upon. These scientific product management methods include decision-making methods such as product thinking system thinking product portfolio management; various user research methods; and product development processes such as lean startup agile development; product design methods such as behavioral design user experience design business model design; various innovation methods and innovation team management methods such as leadership team guidance and so on.

Therefore being a product manager is a professional position not everyone can become a product manager. It requires talent but also requires constant training and honing. But all this is based on relying on the team relying on the trust of the development team forming consensus thus forming synergy. Without trust developers will doubt that the direction set by the product manager is wrong they are just wasting time developing features that will eventually be abandoned while the product manager will suspect that developers say it cannot be implemented because they do not want to develop it so there will be an idea of wanting to understand technology.

Excellent product managers will also learn technology but they will grasp the degree their purpose in learning technology is to understand technical opinions rather than judging whether it can be done how it can be done or even doing it themselves learning to understand and learning to judge are not only differences in degree but also differences in work thinking.

If you don’t know how to grasp this degree, you can try using the “20-hour learning method.” Many product managers use it to learn new technologies. It can quickly bring you up to a technical level for effective communication with technical personnel. Specifically, you can ask technical experts in your company to recommend several authoritative works or technical materials in this field. Then complete the reading within 20 hours. Even with some differences from the real “20-hour learning method,” you don’t even have to try to master these knowledge proficiently. Just read as much as possible.

Product managers must master their own professional knowledge and skills. We are professional managers. But in order to communicate with other members of the team, we also need to understand a lot of knowledge in other fields. So in this sense, product managers are indeed all-rounders.

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