What does a PM provide an organization?


What does a PM provide an organization?

KP Frahm raised a question on Twitter where he asked of Product Managers "what do you provide in one word?", which he turned the results into this post.

What was interesting was the range of responses he got.  How can so many people doing the 'same job', think that the main thing they provide is different to what others provide?

Ultimately, this happens because each organization approaches product differently, each product has its own challenges that need addressing, and each product manager comes into product with their own unique background.

The question "what do you provide in one word?" doesn't have one right answer, and so all PMs who responded were right in their answer.  But what do they mean by the answers that they gave?

Clarity

Top of the pile when it comes to responses was the word clarity, but what do PMs mean when they say they bring clarity?

They're talking about the fact that in organizations there are always competing priorities and without and left unchecked organizations can turn into directionless chaos.

A PM who understands the organization, the market, their customers and stakeholders, is one who can see through the noise to the things that are important and introduce this clarity into day-to-day operations.

They can communicate this vision to stakeholders and customers alike, whilst keeping delivery teams focused on the important things to deliver.

Direction

"We should build X"

"We should be expanding into Y"

"The sooner we deliver Z the better"

It's so easy for organizations to get distracted by all the competing voices that they lose sight of their real destination, and it's the product managers job to ensure that people understand where the destination is and keep everyone moving in the same direction toward it.

Roadmaps, briefings, goals, value propositions, all contribute to a PM keeping the direction in people's mind, and prevents them from veering off to take an alternative path.

Coherence

Coherence falls into the same ball park as both clarity and direction, in that it is all around bringing the organization together towards a common strategic goal.

The PM can ensure that all product changes are all valuable contributions towards the organizational strategy that has been laid out.  If the strategy is growth, then the product manager works with everyone to focus on growth.  If the strategy is efficiency then, the PM ensures that the roadmap and teams are aligned towards this goal.

Value

Value is a word that gets mentioned a lot when it comes to product management, specifically focused on ensuring that what is being delivered will result in the greatest value for the organization and customers.

It's important for PMs to understand where the organization seeks to add value, and then understand what pieces of work will support in delivering this value.

Context

Product managers are not responsible for delivering the work that gets done, which is why it's important for them to provide context to delivery teams.

Delivery teams need to understand what we're hoping to achieve with the work that's being done, so that they can contribute towards the solution.

What's the point of having experienced delivery teams if all the work gets spoon fed.  Let them contribute and add more value, but they can only do that if they have the correct context for what they're hoping to achieve.


Just to round this list out, the next five one word answers were

  • Purpose
  • Alignment
  • Outcomes
  • Empathy
  • No

I love to use this question in an interview, as it can lead to really interesting discussions around product management and how they contribute within an organization.

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