Good & Bad PMs

Here is a legendary post by Ben Horowitz on what makes a good & product manager. So much worth the read. I would say this is 101 of Product Management. Here is the summary in a the tabular form. This one drives home the message clearly.


Good PM

Bad PM

Knows the market, the product, the product line and the

competition extremely well & operate from a strong basis of knowledge and confidence

Takes full responsibility and measures themselves in terms of the

success of the product. Responsible for right product/right time and all that entails.

Knows the context going in (the company, our revenue funding, competition, etc.), and they take responsibility for devising and executing a winning plan.

Just have lots of excuses.

Don’t get all of their time sucked up by the various

organizations that must work together to deliver right product.

Don’t take all the product team minutes

Don’t project manage the various functions,

Not gophers for engineering.

Engineering teams don’t consider Good

Product Managers a “marketing resource.”

Good product managers are the

marketing counterpart of the engineering manager

Good product managers crisply define the target, the “what” (as opposed to the how) and manage the delivery of the “what.”

Bad product managers feel best about themselves when

they figure out “how”.

Communicate crisply to engineering in writing as well as verbally.

Don’t give direction informally.

Gather information informally.

Create leverage-able collateral, FAQs, presentations,

white papers.

Complain that they spend all day answering

questions for the sales force and are swamped

Good product managers anticipate the serious product flaws and build real solutions

Put out fires all day.

Take written positions on important issues (competitive silver bullets, tough architectural choices, tough

product decisions, markets to attack or yield).

Voice their opinion verbally and lament that the “powers that be” won’t let it happen. Once bad product managers fail, they point out that they predicted they would fail.

Focus the team on revenue and customers

Focus team on how many features competition is building.

Define good products that can be executed with a strong effort

Define good products that can’t be executed or let engineering build whatever they want

Think in terms of delivering superior value to the market

place during inbound planning and achieving market share and revenue goals during outbound.

Get very confused about the differences amongst delivering value, matching competitive features, pricing, and ubiquity

Decompose problems.

Combine all problems into one.

Think about the story they want written by the press.

Think about covering every feature and being really technically accurate with the press.

Good product managers ask the press questions.

Good product managers assume

press and analyst people are really smart.

Bad product managers answer any press question.

Bad product managers assume that press and analysts are dumb.

Err on the side of clarity vs. explaining the obvious.

Never explain the obvious.

Define their job and their success.

Constantly want to be told what to do.

Send their status reports in on time every week,

because they are disciplined

Forget to send in their status reports on time, because they don’t value discipline.



Posted on December 20, 2014, in Product Management Definition. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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