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Product Management is for Everyone

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A few months ago Michael Bromley (former Head of Customer Experience, Portals and Online Services, Integration and B2B at NBN co) spoke at one of our Executive Breakfast events. He was addressing a small room full Product Management Directors and spoke about reducing the scope and role of Product Managers in organisations. As you can imagine, many in the audience drew their swords and were shocked at his proposal.

But he made some valid points:

  1. Organisations should NOT solely rely on Product Managers to provide insights and articulate customer requirements. This should be shared so that everyone feels responsible for developing successful products.
  2. Market and customer information needs to be absorbed and shared by all participants of the product development process.
  3. Information should not ONLY be stored in documentation.
  4. Everyone in the business should understand and apply Product Management principles. Everyone should be thinking about the customer.
  5. Product Management thinking is valuable especially when it is de-centralised across the business.

I am reminded of Michael’s presentation because new events such as the StartUp Product Summit in San Francisco (7 Feb 2013) are bringing diverse people together to talk about products.

They write “Product is seeping into new areas it had not previously been before. Particularly with the rise of Agile development, teams are focusing more on disseminating the responsibilities of product throughout existing roles: developers, designers, founders, marketers.”

Is it a good or bad thing… Definitely good for Product Management but Product Managers are still important as they bring focus and galvanize this incredibly valuable thinking.

Please add your feedback in the comments below.

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  • Hi Adrienne,

    Thanks for referencing the first Startup Product Summit in San Francisco, which is a direct outcome of discussions that take place monthly at Startup Product Talks which meets at the Australian company, Atlassian!

    To further this point, Nadia Eghbal has written a series of blog postings on how this event is relevant to people inside startups and product teams who don’t hold the title of product manager and don’t necessarily think of themselves the same way.

    Its exciting to see that what you and I started talking about on the ProdMgmtTalk twitter chat 2 years ago is now being addressed and debated in various venues! An exciting time to be a product manager and shaping the conversation around product excellence, product team collaboration, and effective process!

    Cindy πŸ™‚

  • Joshua Udd says:

    Great points. Good ideas come from all over the business. Sometimes an idea from a developer can become a top product for the business. The product managers can help refine and focus any ideas that come from any area of the business. This could actually mean more work for them to help prioritize and document projects.

  • Michael Ross says:

    You work (and I agree) – everyone in the business should understand and apply Product Management principles. To help promote this – I think it would help to have a simple statement that defines the value or goal of product management. This is similar to how many CIOs say their primary role is to align the business and technology. How about Product Management works to align markets, customers and product development teams to help create great products that delight customers and are financially successful?

  • Adrienne says:

    Love your definition of Product Management

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