21 November, 2016

Behind every great product

The article, 'Behind Every Great Product' is a classic text (PDF), first written in 2005, on Product Management by Marty Cagan. Marty has held senior product positions at Hewlett-Packard, Netscape Communications, America Online, and eBay. (More about Marty)

I set aside some time to read this on a journey some time ago.

It's littered with great insight and quotes about Product Management and  Product Managers.

A good product manager is responsible for defining the right product at the right time

The product needs to have the right features for the right market, and must be able to be executed with the technology  available in the required market window.

It is easy to define fantastic products that can’t be built, or at least can’t be built profitably or in the necessary timeframe. It is equally easy to define products that can be built profitably but which are not compelling to the customer.

The art of product management is to combine a deep understanding of your target customer’s needs and desires with the capabilities of your engineering team and the technologies they have to work with in order to come up with a product definition that is both compelling and achievable.

The process of coming up with the right product/right time boils down to insight, judgement, and the ability to make choices.

Manages Product Not People …. leading, but not managing, the extended product team.

In good companies, executives tend to be smart, experienced, and articulate -- that's why they are executives. As a result, it's easy to assume that they have superior judgement and should set the strategic direction for your product. This is a bad assumption. Executives can be excellent at verifying that a strategy is sound or suggesting interesting ideas, but not necessarily well equipped to set the strategy for a particular product. Executives lack the deep knowledge of the market, competition, technology, customer base and team that is necessary to chart a successful product course.

The ideal product manager does not necessarily have to come from your target market (there are pros and cons to this), but they absolutely need to be able to empathize with that target market. This trait is often difficult to find in high-technology companies trying to produce mass market products.

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