Good product manager, bad product manager

Note: this document focuses specifically on product management in the context of a “divlet” [small division] in AOL. Related key assumptions are that there is a corresponding “business owner” in each of the brands, and that the “products” are generally online services intended for individuals.

A Good Product Manager plays critical role in a successful product. A successful product is the highest impact contribution that anyone can make in the PD organization. In fact, the number one criteria for selecting a Vice President is the candidate’s track record (or lack thereof) of successful products that become profitable businesses for their company.

Being a good product manager is so hard that most product managers at most companies fail to be good — and instead are bad. Because product management is a highly leveraged position, a bad product manager leads to many other bad consequences, generally including the wrong product being built, which generally has a significant impact on revenue, morale, and reputation –of both the product manager and their company.

There are a number of straightforward principles that product managers can follow which will dramatically increase their chance of success. Surprisingly, only very few product managers follow these principles. Part of the problem is that these principles often are not articulated clearly, which this document attempts to address.

A final note is that product management is a demanding and high profile job. Individuals should make sure they’re up to the challenge…

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