I had been in a few discussions with my mastermind groups. Occasionally, people had shared their passion to move to Product Management.
And usually after that, the first question they ask is: “What does product manager really do?”
But before I answer that question, let’s look at the definition of a product.
Wikipedia defines it as:
a deliverable or set of deliverables that contribute to a business solution
It can be a service or a physical thing, but for every product there is a goal behind it.
Sometimes the people responsible for building that product are more focused on the product itself. They could build the most innovative solution which takes a few years to be developed and finally once it reach maturity and it is ready to be placed in the market placed, there is no one to buy it.
Could you think of few examples where great product never reached the marker?
One of the famous examples was about Ford Edsel, which turned out to be a huge flop!
It was supposed to be the go to car for the middle class market and Ford motors, market it in 1958. Taken into account the 400 million dollars invested to develop and market the product, it didn’t resonate with the customers.
The price and the niche were not well defined and the customers at that price range were looking for different quality in the product – car.
The reason for sharing this example is to demonstrate that it’s not the most important thing for a product manager to design and develop great products.
The first step in becoming a product manager is to know your market.
Indeed, only when you know the marker you are in and what the customers expect from that market you will be able to design good products for that segment. It is hard to create a new segment. That is why if you would like to start and transition to a Product Management career, you must do the research upfront. What the company’s current customers want and need. What are they buying at the moment and why?
It is easy to take a good market and design a product for it, then to start from scratch. That is why sometimes it is better to join a big company to gain this experience compare to starting in a startup environment. Because in a big company one bad decision is seldom the end of the company and for startups, this could be the difference between make it or break it.
A step forward
Join an event that could help you in learning how to design a product, there are many opportunities you could explore. One of them is joining event called Startup Weekend where you will not only learn but also practice valuable skills that are needed for every Product Manager. After you master those skills, then the next step would be to build a portfolio with ideas you could show to the potential company you would like to join and this is how will be on the right path to become a Product Manager.
Solution Engineering Manager at Thales | Senior IT Professional | Startup Mentor and Product Manager