Everyone wanna be a product manager

The Product Manager career is on fire. In this past year I have:

  • Been to 3 product manager conventions, where becoming a PM / getting a first job as one were the most-attended sessions
  • Personally been asked to mentor young people to transition from other roles into Product Manager
  • Seen the launch of Product Jobs job board
  • Gotten way, way, way too many marketing emails about learning the skills of a product manager
  • Seen people get “certified” as product managers

Well there are two types of product managers. Companies know they need their products to perform in the marketplace, but by and large the training focuses on the processes around leading agile development teams. That’s a huge disconnect.

I’ll let Marty Cagan say it…

“But just as learning Scrum or Kanban doesn’t teach a developer how to actually craft scalable software, it doesn’t teach a product manager how to actually lead a product. … Are you just administering the backlog, or are you actually tackling and solving difficult problems for your customers and your business?”

Marty Cagan, Inspired: How to build tech products customers love

If you’re thinking of hiring a Product Manager, make sure you get the kind that can be CEO of your product—they’ll do what it takes to make the product perform financially in the marketplace. That means they get marketing, finance, development, design, and leadership (backed by processes).

If you’re thinking of becoming a Product Manager, read the above paragraph. You don’t learn that from a certification course, scrum agile training, or 25-year-olds that haven’t done it who are put forward as trainers at an accelerator. Real PMs are cross-disciplinary, well-read, and if they had better personal networks for fundraising would be an obvious next choice for CEO.

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