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Polymathic Monthly - Issue #24: Divinely Discontent Customers and Product Managers.

Rohini (Pandhi)'s approach to product(s) has always inspired me. And I guess it's because it's totall

Polymathic Monthly

May 27 · Issue #24 · View online
A curation of articles, tech, books and innovation strategy to enrich your career and personal lives.

Rohini (Pandhi)‘s approach to product(s) has always inspired me. And I guess it’s because it’s totally focused on what customers want. She’s an empath. We both competed in the new ventures competition at Univ of Chicago Booth ~9yr ago and her startup was the only one, during the final, that had a demo and provided a link for testers to provide feedback. She’s continued to focus on delighting the customer managing product at Square. Engineer, Foodie, Cultural critic, Introvert, Polymath (though she won’t admit it) and one of the awesome folk behind Transparent Collective. I present you Rohini’s Product-Centric Polymathic Monthly.

Hi all! 
  • For those of you that aren’t very familiar with the product management, I’ll start with a brief history of the role. According to some, the first evolution of it came in the 1930s when P&G created brand managers to help decentralize decision-making and conduct customer research (check out the original “Brand Man” memo). This, in turn, influenced Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, who created similar roles in their tech company, HP. But the modern PM role didn’t move out of the marketing aspect and merge with the technical and engineering side until the Agile Manifesto was created. From there, the position expanded with the new product development process and methodology explained in the Lean Startup (where the term “MVP” was first used).
  • Product management is famously defined as the intersection between business, technology, and user experience. (Side note: if you liked that Venn diagram about product management, here are some more you might also enjoy!) It’s a cross between different disciplines, so a product manager has to have breadth in a wide variety of those areas and depth in a few of them - the classic T-shaped skill set. As Ken Norton once described it, “product management is a weird discipline full of oddballs and rejects that never quite fit in anywhere else.”
  • With all that fits under the product management umbrella, how do you know if you’re good at this nebulously defined position? The evaluation criteria are tough because the role changes based on what industry you’re in, the company (it’s size, culture, etc.), the organization within the company (since different teams may operate independently of one another), and what that team or product needs at any given moment in time. Even though it was published several decades ago, Ben Horowitz’s article Good Product Manager / Bad Product Manager still holds a lot of great gems. Another favorite explanation of the expectations of a product role is from Josh Elman in his Let’s Talk about Product Managers presentation. If you’re interested in becoming a PM, be sure to read What It Takes to Become a Great Product Manager. I’m also co-developing a set of exercises to help folks “think product” called 30 Days of Product. The material is still in the works, but you can sign-up on the website to get notified as soon as we release more content! 
Hope you enjoyed this issue, many thanks to Rohini. One more issue of PM before the summer break.
Till next week!
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