The acronym “PM” and also the role of a product manager means something different everywhere. In this ProductTank Toronto talk, Marc De Pape, Director of Strategic Design at Rangle.io, dissects the product manager role from its early beginnings to the current role and a potential future. Watch the video to see Marc’s talk in full. Or read on for an overview of his key points:
- Tension of the product manager role
- Evolution of the role
- Getting disciplined
Tension of the Product Manager Role
Marc’s talk stems from an interaction between two startup product leaders he came across on social media. One argument is that you aren’t actually a product owner unless you actually own the resources you use. This means being able to schedule designers, programmers to a particular project. The solution could be smaller teams of designers and engineers with a common goal, without the need for a product manager. This begs the question of how the product owner, and product management roles emerged in the first place.
Evolution of the Product Manager
Marc explains the evolution of the product manager role. From a brand manager focused on campaigns and marketing, to a requirements gatherer beginning to be involved in the delivery of a product. Over time, product managers have grown closer to being decision-makers and not just delivering a product. However, it can be argued that there are too many product managers and not enough products. Some product managers find themselves working on something that lacks strategic value. They are managing something which is important but doesn’t require the all-encompassing product manager role.
The role of a product manager is a specialized practice of sorts and it’s not something that is going away. However, the role of a product manager lacks the depth of discipline that other fields such as design or engineering have. The main archetype of a product manager is the mini-CEO but Marc argues that the role needs to be broken down to be more effective.
The key takeaways from this talk are that the role of the product manager can vary across organizations. However, to be the most efficient, it may require the role to be broken down into a number of different, more specialized roles.