This question comes up a lot. Below are some less obvious core skills.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. You’ll need more than these skills to be a good PM, but these are core skills I find useful, would love to hear your thoughts about them.
- Define the goal/problem — What are your trying to accomplish? What problem are you solving?
- Objectively reevaluate and reassess your actions.
- Be comfortable with not knowing.
Breaking it down
Define the goal/problem
What are you trying to accomplish? What problem are you solving? Who are we solving it for?
A good definition of the problem helps the team and company understand what we’re trying to accomplish, for who and in what timeframe.
A good definition of the problem should also help answer what we’re not trying to do.
Objectively reevaluate and reassess your actions.
This is a meta skill that transcends Product Management.
You/your team perform some action, you present an idea, ship a feature, or make copy changes. These actions will get feedback from your users, stakeholders, or other team members. This feedback is their reaction to your actions. You must be able to understand if your actions moved you closer to your goal. Listen to what the world is telling you, listen to the feedback.
(recommended podcast on how feedback is a tool for progress Ray Dalio and Boyd’s OODA loop. Boyd 😍).
Be comfortable with not knowing
Ambiguity and uncertainty are a given. You can’t avoid them. Learn to embrace them.
There are multiple layers to this. Below are two:
- As a PM you’ll constantly be missing important information (knowledge gaps). Your role is to identify these knowledge gaps, define the riskiest ones, and work to close these gaps. Reduce the risk of failure with the least amount of energy.
- As a PM you’re almost at a “knowledge deficit” or disadvantage with the person you’re talking with. Developers know more than you about code, designers about design, business, well, about business, and so on. You have to understand and embrace this. However this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge them, you must challenge them. Just be humble, and learn to ask questions. close them knowledge gaps!
That’s it for now.
Again there are MANY other skills a good Product Manger must have. Think of the list above as a conversation starter, not as a final answer.
Thanks for reading would appreciate your thoughts and comments to keep the conversation going.