The 3 kinds of Product Managers/Product Owners

  • 19 March 2022
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Hello dear Lean-Agilists!

This story by Susan Stavitzski on Medium is one I often use to spark discussion among PMs and POs:

https://medium.com/@susan_ski/the-three-kinds-of-product-managers-9aa398dbabd8

“I like to think there’s three types of Product Managers: The technical PM, the customer centric PM and the business focused PM. You’re going to be one really well, maybe even two but never all three. If you feel like you fit strongly in one or two of those buckets, I say you go for it.”

I think this holds true even for people who aren't PMs or POs (or project leaders/managers). A developer is often — and hopefully 😅 — strong on the technical side, and then they could also lean either towards UX or business. Same with UX designers: strong on user experience and maybe also business or tech. Agile coaches are often rooted in either tech (former engineers) or user experience (former UX designers).

As a PM/PO, I consider myself fitting strongly in the Technical and Customer buckets but less so in the Business bucket.

Which bucket/s do you for into?

 


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@Henrik Ståhl -

I see this aligning well with what makes a good PM - hard skills (technical), soft skills (customer/stakeholder) and domain expertise (business skills). A few years ago, PMI changed their requirements for recertification by requiring that folks get a minimum set of development units across each three of these areas.

Kiron

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You’re not getting away that easy @Kiron Bondale:wink: Certificates are just certificates. And it’s a given that a PM must have some knowledge in all three. But I agree 100% with the advice Susan was given and that is the basis of her Medium story: “You’re going to be one really well, maybe even two but never all three.” I have never met anyone who excelled in all three areas. To be honest, most PMs and POs excel in just one – at best.

With that said: Which bucket/s are your strongest, Kiron? :blush:

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@Henrik Ståhl -

Not sure which PMs you’ve worked with, but I’ve had the privilege to work with, mentor and manage PMs who were firing on all three cylinders! When I started my career as a PM, technical skills were my strongest, but over time, the soft skills have taken over as I’ve found the benefits compound when focusing on those.

Kiron

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@Kiron Bondale I've worked with more PMs and POs than I can count. And don't get me wrong; I'm not saying PMs are necessarily bad in one or two of the areas. I'm saying that one in a million is great in all three.

If someone claims to be “firing” in all three, I'd say they lack self-perception, and I might even be a bit worried about that person's honesty. 😉

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@Henrik Ståhl -

No PM that’s ever worked for me has said that they are top of their game on any one of the legs, let alone all three. Humility and the willingness to learn on an ongoing basis is part of what makes an effective worker in any field. However, many of the PMs I’ve worked with have had sufficient expertise in each of the legs to be effective at what they do.

Kiron

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@Kiron Bondale Sure, but having sufficient expertise isn't what the Medium story is about. It's about being great in one or more of the areas. 🙂

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