Gods, Superheroes, and Product Managers by Randy Silver
John Carpenter’s “Big Trouble in Little China” is a 1980s masterpiece, and easily one of the silliest action movies you’ll ever see. It’s remarkable for a very simple reason: Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) may be the film’s lead character – he’s front and centre on the poster — but he’s not actually the hero of the story. He’s actually the goofy sidekick.
Jack Burton is not a product manager.
In the late 1990s, Ben Horowitz wrote an inspiring memo that cast product managers as the CEO of the product. Too many people have read it without understanding a critical point – CEOs also answer to other people. If they don’t deliver, their customers (or the board, as their proxy) will fire them. Whether you’re product manager or CEO, there’s one thing you all have to keep in mind: you are not the hero. (Don’t worry, you’re not the goofy sidekick either.)
There is only one hero: your customer. Your job is to give them the tools they need to succeed. If you don’t, they’ll go somewhere else.
If you’re not the hero or the CEO, then what role does a product manager play? In this talk from MTP Engage, I use pop culture to illustrate how we can best work with our customers, stakeholders, and teams, and how employing the right mindset leads to success.