How to pretend to be a great Product Manager

Step 1: Show that you understand and know everything tech-related

Repeat the techie words your developers use with an air of superiority to show that you know what they mean, especially if you have no clue. Maybe start a conversation about the advantages and drawbacks of different programming languages. Explain how you’re currently dabbling in Python, JavaScript and Ruby. And make sure you know how to say C#.

Step 2: Show that you know about design

Whenever a designer comes to you with a prototype or a concept, make sure you disagree with something on the design. If you don’t have an obvious comment to make, tell them the interface is too cluttered or too simplistic (whichever applies). In doubt, you can always tell them to change the colour of the buttons. Explain confidently that with your colour, conversion rates will be much higher. If they disagree, challenge them to an A/B test (and then don’t actually give them the opportunity to do it by shortening the release deadline — you need to maintain your authority).

Step 3: Show that you know everything about the user’s needs

When deciding on future stories, make sure you start all of your opinions with a reference to the users or the customers. Refer back to an imaginary conversation you’ve had with a high-paying customer that confirms how this feature will really address their use case. Your ideas will prove themselves useful once they are released. Have faith.

Step 4: Be the deadline master

Always promise a release about 2 weeks before what your developers are actually telling you is doable. Then shout at the developers to work faster and tell QA to only do minimal regression testing. It’ll show your authority.

If they argue that your expectations are unreasonable, tell them they’re just not agile enough and that they need to concentrate on what’s important. Maybe quote the Pareto principle.

Step 5: Show you’re well read

Make sure to decorate your desk with a Steve Blank and an Eric Riess book. Don’t worry about reading them, you’re probably already doing what they are advising.

Make sure to repost inspirational quotes and blog posts about product management on social media. Have a TechCrunch sticker on your laptop. It’s important.

In all seriousness though…

This is a rather grotesque satire of mistakes that I have made on occasion, and I recognise that it is very easy to fall into these traps, as they are a lot more subtle in real life. For me, the best thing to counter these kind of reactions is to never to get comfortable in your own routine. I find that reading about product management and speaking with fellow PMs, in particular my colleagues, helps me an enormous deal to regularly reflect on my processes and methods.

Here are my favourite sources for thoughts and experiences on product management:

I can’t wait for this week’s #MTPcon in London!

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