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5 Minutes with Jeremy Horn, Product Management Consultant

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By day (and most nights) Jeremy is a zealous, hard-working Product Management Consultant in New York City. His work primarily supports start-ups and new businesses launch awesome products but on the side he is an avid Product Management blogger, and once a month he organizes and facilitates The Product Group Meetup. We’ve had the pleasure of digging deeper into his world of Product Management.

Jeremy, what attracted you to specialising in Product Management?

The main reason I got involved with product management, and the reason why I remain in the field, are one and the same. Namely, I enjoy the challenge of bringing together the key pieces and people needed for successfully guiding the development of a product by focusing everyone on the common goal and seeing ideas coalesce.

Tell us about being a Product Management consultant.

A strong product management consultant plays the key role in creating and educating. Coming in as a consultant brings with it some advantages, such as a less emotional, larger picture perspective that can be leveraged in honing the optimal direction for the products and teams. I often spend a good deal of time as a product and project coordinator – facilitating communication, and clarifying ownership and overall responsibility roles. Most important, when I work with a client, is to not only keep everyone focused on the ultimate goal – a successful product, but also to leave them with the tools necessary to continue on the path long after our engagement has ended. Both consulting and full-time Product Management positions have their different rewards. As a Product Management consultant I get to work with a very diverse set of products, people, and organizations solving rewarding product management challenges. In a full-time role, you get to be in the product process for the long-haul crafting, shaping, and adapting the product, experience and strategies as conditions evolve.

What challenges do you face as a Product Management consultant?

The role of a product management consultant brings with it many challenges. First of all, it is imperative that, as an outsider, you have the skills for leading without the need for explicit authority. You need to be able to demonstrate your authority and expertise through the exercise of your leadership and product management (technology, strategy, analytics, user experience, business) skills, not by steamrolling over anyone. In some cases, you are in the center of disagreements between stakeholders, so you also need to be skilled in managing relationships and handling conflict without destroying the integrity of the team — I strive to leave the organization not just with a killer product, but also with a team cohesion stronger for having worked with me.

The second greatest challenge is simply staying up to speed on the latest in “products.” I work across a broad array of verticals with greatly varying needs and skill sets required to accomplish the tasks. I spend almost half of all my time studying, meeting with interesting people across all sorts of industries, following blogs, and absorbing just as much information as I can, from technology and design to venture capital and business development — and everything in between.

What qualities do you think make an excellent Product Manager?

An excellent Product Manager is going to have…

  1. Strong technical skills coupled with business savvy,
  2. The ability to quickly establish credibility and lead with no authority,
  3. Communication skills (e.g. be able to speak different ‘languages’) that allow for the effective exchange of ideas between all organization groups (sales, marketing, technology, engineering) and personality types that come with them, this also includes writing skills and the creation of clear and concise PRD’s, etc.
  4. An eye for details – in this, I find Product Managers with an established UX background to be particularly strong
  5. Analytical mind, with a sound ROI-focus, and
  6. Love of all products & their consumers.

Continuing from that last bullet point, an excellent Product Manager is one who is unable to look at a product without thinking about how he/she would improve it or what that business model is or could be, or the people, ideas, and materials that when into that product to bring it to where it is today.

In your opinion, what does the future of Product Management look like? Do you see any trends?

I do see many promising trends in Product Management. Chief among them I find is the increased appreciation of analytics and innovating along those lines; including integrating with real-time social media to make better, more pro-active decisions that feed greater product and consumer insight.

Many organizations have a growing appreciation for collaboration and product and consumer relationships. They are focusing more Product Management efforts and seeking greater innovation along those lines. This is a topic I often discuss on The Product Guy; I am seeing the Product Manager as key facilitator in moving their products along this route to the next big evolutionary wave of Modular Innovation.

There are increasing numbers of startups employing Product Managers with roles increasingly visible and important. It is becoming more common for a Product Manager to be part of the founding team, or amongst the first few hires. I hope that the trends I see continue to persist and accelerate – and that I may be able to facilitate the broader integration of good Product Management within all flavors of organization.

Jeremy, thanks for giving us a your insight on being a Product Management Consultant and the delicate but significant role it has in every organization. As a heads up to our readers, Jeremy will be a guest blogger for an exciting new series of articles on Modular Innovation. We look forward to hearing more from him on this topic.

Please add your feedback in the comments below.

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