To the Product Managers here - what have been the biggest "aha" moments you've experienced throughout your career?
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Thanks for answering! This was great and gave me some things to think about especially the 2nd and 3rd points you made. PM more than any other role I've held feels like it requires a highly adaptive personality to make it work. It's going to mean something different everywhere based on the current needs and processes of the organization.
Written 3 years ago0
As someone who has been building and managing software products for almost 20 years there have been a few "aha" moments.
The first moment I remember, vividly, was when I first learned that Product Management as a disciple actually existed. For years I had been working for a large multi-national company scoping, developing and project managing software solutions as a team of one, with no tools or training, just instinct and a little common sense. One day in the early 2000's a friend of mine told me he had been on a Product Management training course. I decided to check it out and my mind was instantly blown away by the fact that not only had I been 'practicing' Product Management for years (without knowing it) but that there exists a whole wealth of resource to help every stage of the product process from conception to end-of-life.
As the years have gone on, the number of Product Managers has grown, the anecdotal experience of others is continually being shared and the tools to help build products that people choose to use has increased exponentially.
The second "aha" moment I remember was when moving jobs and finding out that although Product Management is now a relatively understood discipline in it's own right, different organisations require Product Managers to focus on particular aspects - basically it means slightly different things depending on the company, their existing portfolio, their desire to build new products and how mature (or immature in some cases) their Product Management experience is. Although at it's core is a broad but common set of responsibilities, the best Product Managers in my experience are able to adapt, flex and focus their efforts to suit what is needed and instinctively know when to do so.
Lastly, it's not so much an "aha" moment but more a general rule learned through experience... as the Product Manager for a given product or suite of products, if you don't absolutely love what you are building/managing then how do you expect others to. As the champion, leader, and creator/custodian of a product you must believe that what you are building has value and can change the way others live, work or play. By spearheading tireless positivity and a deep sense of care both internally and externally then success (whatever that looks like), although not guaranteed, is much more likely to follow.