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June 06, 2012



Any product manager that dictates design elements instead of listening to a UX team is doomed to fail by the way.


Dev Teams i've known regularily needed the "external" input of a PM to make quick decisions. Who else can have the overview over the whole software and know what fits where or if feature A is needed for the next sprint?

Sure the UX Team might have a lot of impact on those decisions, but are seldom empowerded to be in charge of the whole Product.

a) you have distributed decisions which might not be aligned over the whole product, or have long discussions about whats "right"
b) you have a dedicated person (PM) or team (UX) who calls the shots and gives the dev team fredoom to just go GitHub diving all day.

Michael Bishop

I would disagree that product management is dying. If anything, you see more product management opportunities in the market than ever before. Any product manager that dictates design elements instead of listening to a UX team is doomed to fail by the way.

Ultimately, product managers are necessary because you need to have someone that is accountable for the success of the product and therefore must help steer the ship in the right direction. There are many types of skills required to do this including soft skills (resolving differences of opinion on the team, analyzing customer data which is arguably more complicated to do now than ever with all the latest tools, etc.) and hard skills.


I agree 100%. I, too, have been working in Product Management my entire career in Seattle starting at RealNetworks, Rhapsody, wetpaint and now at WhitePages. The PM role is slowly dying this decade as the democratization of customer insights, web analytics, business models and APIs are defining how products are built and monetized. I likely couldn't get a job as a PM today without a CS degree, however I don't feel threatened by this. The value that the PM discipline brings is about building relationships between teams, companies, investors and customers. Engineers build products but rarely can a talented engineer show the empathy that is needed to foster a productive, healthy relationship to scale a business. We have been trained to look across products and competitors to find the connections and opportunities to improve the product which is hard to do when you are buried in GitHub all day. Of course, trying to prove this value to engineering-driven organizations won't be easy.

Ted Barnett

Seems like the Lean Startup approach would not work so well in a client-services scenario. But I saw Eric Ries speak today and he has been pleasantly surprised to see the method applied in areas even he thought would not work (e.g. NASA). Maybe clients would have to shift to believing that they are buying *learning* (e.g. calibrating metrics for their business plans).

Peter Montgomery

I like this post. It brings together a lot of topic related to the way Agile has impacted Product Development and Management. Question: Outside of startups and in-house development, how do you see this being inherited with the Client Services world in which clients want to know what they are paying for "up front".

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