The Secret Product Manager Handbook
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Product management faqs test page

Products, in the most general sense, are solutions to problems. Problems that your prospective customers have, that are not solved yet, or not solved well.

So the fundamental goal of the product management organization is to find problems that aren’t solved and that make sense for us to build, to drive the creation of those solutions, and then take them to market.

The first part of product management is finding those problems and validating that they are worth solving.

The second main activity of product management – and typically the one that takes the most time and effort – is guiding the creation of a solution to one of these problems. The product manager doesn’t create the solution themselves – they work through a team, typically of developers in the case of software.

The final part of product management is “go-to-market” – ensuring that prospective customers become customers. Because a product is only truly successful to the degree that it has customers.

Product managers find and validate market problems, drive the creation of solutions to those problems, and take the solutions to market.

Every day is different! One of the most challenging aspects of product management is that your day typically consists of many different types of interactions with many different types of people and groups. You have to be very good at context switching, which is a difficult cognitive skill!

You might have a bug triage meeting one hour, and then a conversation with executives about strategy, followed by a one-on-one design discussion with an engineer, then a presentation to a sales team, and then a customer call. One after the other. Any given day can be like that – or any combination of about 15 other types of engagement – including sitting down and working on fleshing out a user story, or documenting a bug, or preparing for a demo next week.

This constant context switching is one of the big differences between product management and engineering.

Engineers typically like to spend a lot of time working on a particular thing, getting into flow, being very focused, and while that’s fun for product managers, it’s just not really part of our job description.

You know, if you can spend an hour on a particular topic as a product manager, that’s actually kind of unusual. In particular on your own solo work, right? Typically you might have meetings that are an hour where you have to even then switch a lot in terms of the topics that are going on. You have to make decisions you have to do all this conversing in different languages.

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