Today’s Sunday Rewind looks back at an article with some words of caution and advice to people early in their product management careers written by Rik Higham, currently Product Lead for Payments at Deliveroo.
Product management is harder and more subtle than it appears to be from the outside, and good product managers make it seem natural and effortless, says Rik. It can seem like an attractive, simple role. “In reality,” says Rik, “it’s so much more than deciding what to build. It’s so much more than telling people what to do. It’s so much broader than people expect.”
Rik takes us through the reasons why product management is hard – with managing CXO expectations, engaging with finance, collaborating with user research, working with the design team being just a few of them. “We are generalists surrounded by specialists,” he says. “This can be daunting. We need to know enough details to guide the discussion, ask the right questions, and help the group to reach a conclusion. Juggling all these conversations can feel like you’re continuously shifting gear in a tumult of noise. And that’s before you’ve started speaking to customers, analysing product data, understanding your market, defining your product vision and roadmap, or even managing other product managers.”
Rik advises aspiring product managers to find roles within their company that allow them to demonstrate product management skills. “If there aren’t any roles, make your own,” he says. “Before I became a product manager I created an internal tool that solved an acute pain point for all my colleagues. I demonstrated product management sensibilities while creating it.”
Read Why do we forget that product management is a tough career? in full to get a better understanding why product management can be such a difficult job, and why it’s worth sticking it out.