product management - the definition-paralysis

When I started my first job as a product manager I only had a vague idea what product management means. My first thoughts were that basically the product manager is a project manager who is responsible to deliver a product in the end. I also read some thoughts that a product manager is a mini-CEO of a team, and the team is like a startup in a company. Then some people said that product management is about business and marketing. It was really confusing. Anyway since I love building products and had some management experience it all sounded awesome.

It is still a widely debated thing what exactly product management is. Multitudes of definitions, many writings are out there. I especially like the description written by Ben Horowitz. It gives you a sense about product management. I'm also the product manager who leverages the thinking of Marty Cagan. He considers the responsibility of a product manager to create a product that's valuable to the customers and the company, usable to the people who want use it to get value and feasible to build given the time and tools that you have.

I usually use this basic visualisation

I usually use this basic visualisation

There are some questions though that this definition raises. Like what does it mean to create a product, is there a team in the process, is there anything that's valuable but not usable, etc.

I attended a conference once where people spent hours with discussing what product management is. And though it's an interesting philosophical question I consider product management a continuously evolving, constantly changing role which is highly dependent on the organisation. I got angry after a while during the conference, because we fell into some kind of definition-paralysis. Totally unproductive.

So I consciously don't define here what product management is. I love the description of Marty Cagan, Ben Horowitz and other gurus like Steven Haines. I strongly argue that product management is about getting things done. So please don't spend too much time trying to define it.

Why did I put this here?

I put it here because I want to deal with real issues in my blog. Issues that product managers have. I would like to explain how I handle them and what my learnings are from my experiences. If I might fall into the trap of being to philosophical, please feel free to kick my butt.

With these closing thoughts I start a series (How to manage a product?). I will write about the things those are necessary to be done by product managers. I will give recommendations how to handle certain situations. One thing is sure: The goal is to help you build products that people will love and use.