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The Best Product Managers Are Idea Filters, Not Idea Generators

Toby Rogers
Toby Rogers
Hello fellow punks! 
Welcome to the 18 of you who have signed up for this since the last issue. It’s great to have you on board. Hopefully you’ll stick with me while I figure out what this newsletter is all about.
Here’s this week’s issue ⬇️

Hang on a minute, I've got a great idea...
Earlier this week I published this tweet 👇
Toby Rogers 🚀🤘
As a product manager, it's your job to prioritize ideas—not come up with them.
It got a lot of likes, and a lot of comments saying I was wrong. Some even argued I was playing on Cunningham’s Law for engagement.
I knew before I posted it that it’s the kind of comment that would get people talking, but I think that’s because it’s more of a scissor statement than an obvious falsehood.
Of course product managers should come up with ideas. But if you think they should be the only people whose job it is to come up with them, then you’re heading into dangerous territory.
Like Noah Weiss says, product managers are really Chief Question Officers. It’s our job to ask the questions that help our organisations discover and execute the right ideas.
If some of those ideas are ours, that’s great. But if none of them are it doesn’t really matter, as long as they’re the right ideas for our product and our company.
Toby Rogers 🚀🤘
Product Managers are idea filters.

It's our job to sort the good from the bad and prioritise those that will have the biggest impact.
Arguing about whether it’s a product manager’s job to have ideas misses the point. The most important thing a product manager can do is make it as easy as possible for the right ideas to bubble to the surface. The intro to this blog from Aha! sums it up nicely 👇
It is very rare for a product manager to bring forth the breakthrough idea alone. Innovation requires a broad range of inputs and intense focus. This is especially true for established offerings. Product managers juggle ideas from customers, salespeople, leadership, and other stakeholders.
Continuous innovation is necessary to gain and maintain market leadership. This is why it is essential for mature product organizations to develop an idea management process that supports your strategy and encourages innovation. A well-defined process allows stakeholders to submit great ideas and build on ideas submitted by others. So if you want to excel as a product manager, deliver value to customers, and drive business growth — make it easy to share ideas.
So stop worrying about whose idea it is, and worry about figuring out if the idea is worth doing something with.
What I've been reading 📚
I’m a productivity nerd and am always looking for new tips and hacks on how to get things done. This article from Tony Stubblebine provides a great insight into the mindset that means many successful people see the work they do to reach the top as pragmatic, rather than exceptional.
Secrets to Success: The Habits of Elite Performers | Better Humans
I’m still reading a lot about how technology is making us more and more distracted. This post from Adrian Zumbrunnen talks about the rise of “anti-notifications” - the kinds of notifications that apps send purely to drive engagement rather than actually notify us of anything.
The Rise of Anti-Notifications. The evolution of a well-intentioned… | by Adrian Zumbrunnen | Medium
The idea of a North Star Metric to guide your product decisions makes a lot of sense, but is it always the right approach? This blog post from Casey Winters argues that most product companies and start-ups are too complicated to pin everything on one single metric.
Don’t Become a Victim of One Key Metric | Casey Accidental
What I've been writing ✍️
Starting out as a new product manager is hard, but there are a lot of resources that can help you get going. Here’s a list of my top-ten must reads for new PMs 👇
Toby Rogers 🚀🤘
My top 10 must-reads for every new and aspiring product manager 🧵 ⬇️
As a product manager, your job is really to make sure the right decisions get made for your product. I published a thread this week on useful mental models that can make the decision-making process a bit easier 👇
Toby Rogers 🚀🤘
As a product manager, your product is decisions.

Here are 9 mental models guaranteed to help you make sure the right decisions get made 🧵 ⬇️
That’s it! 
See you next week (probably). 
The Punk PM 
P.S. Feel free to share this with anyone else you think would find it interesting.
I’m still playing around with ideas for content and format for this newsletter, so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Go ahead and shoot me an email with ways you think I can make it better.
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Toby Rogers
Toby Rogers @tobiasrogers

Product management musings from your favourite Punk PM

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