What are the top 5 things that you should NOT do as a product manager?

What are the top 5 things that you should NOT do as a product manager? There are many that I can think of. Here are just a few:

  1. Don’t lose sight of the vision. Why does the product you are building matter to the end-user? Or why is it going to matter? Every project (or theme) that you plan out or work on should be tied back to answer these 2 questions.
  2. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you, the PM, are the customer / user. Sure, in some cases, you may fit the same demographic, but keep in mind that just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean that it counts.
  3. Don’t neglect your relationships, especially with your stakeholders. Strong relationships make all the difference – especially when it comes to helping you get buy-in.
  4. Don’t under-communicate. I cannot stress this one enough – Communication is such a vital component to being a good PM. Communicate often and using whatever medium makes the most sense. Ideally, In Person > Over the Phone > Email, IM or other forms of electronic communication.
  5. Don’t boss people around (even if you can). Be humble. Realize that the product gets built by the team, not (only) because of you. Sure, it might be your vision, and as a product guy you are the enabler – in charge of defining, managing and ruthlessly prioritizing product road maps, but products get built by teams, not individuals.
  6. Don’t assume it’ll get done on time. In my 10+ years as an engineer, founder and product guy, I have found that when it comes to software, especially complex software, things almost always take longer than initially anticipated. So, plan accordingly through effective project management, and manage upwards, so your boss/stakeholders know what to expect, and when to expect it. Ideally, you’ve made it a habit to under-promise (within reason) and over-deliver.
  7. Don’t worry about the how, worry about the what and why. Sure, it’s important to know whether something is technically feasible, and how long implementing it is going to take, but your #1 priority should be to figure out whatto build, and why building it is a problem worth solving. This is especially important for technical PMs that have a tendency to get a bit caught up in the implementation details.
  8. Don’t always trust your gut, or ignore what your data is telling you.Assuming you have enough relevant, segmented data to make a conclusive decision.
  9. Don’t make every decision based on data. Sure, being data-driven is important, but in some cases, you need to go with a more “qualitative” decision that is based on user testing, user feedback, and well, intuition. One good “signal” that you should base your product decision on a qualitative assessment is if you don’t have enough data to make a conclusive decision easily.
  10. Don’t listen to every feature request or piece of feedback that comes in. Everyone has ideas, you need to be objective about it.
  11. Don’t treat all your data the same. Data in aggregate means nothing. Segment, segment, segment, and segment again….because segmented data is 10x more actionable.

06. July 2014 by Kunal Punjabi
Categories: Product Management | Leave a comment

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