Posted by: Ivan lybbert | November 6, 2009

Part 3: A Product Manager is a Scientist

bill-nye-the-science-guy-bobblehead-dollThis week’s blog entry wraps up my series about the three primary characteristics of a Product Manager.  From the beginning I’ve maintained that we are a unique group of people; an amalgamation of several varying personality types.  In week 1 I said “We Are Entrepreneurs”  In week 2, I said “We Are Leaders“, and this week I say…

We are Scientists!

I’m not sure about you, but when Bill Nye “the science guy” first ran across my television set, I was hooked.  Maybe it was because of the fun my kids and I had watching it, or perhaps it was that catchy theme (“Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!”), but by the end of the episode I wanted to grab my lab coat!  Okay, maybe that’s a bit over the top, but I do believe great Product Managers have elements of a scientist inside them.

We are Inquisitive –While this is similar to week 1’s “We see problems” statement, this characteristic points to our desire to ask questions.  How often have you been in a store and thought, “how did they determine that price?” or “why are they positioning it like that?”  When our sales reps relay a customer story, how often do we say “Why is that important to the customer?”  Frankly, we can’t help it.  We want to understand WHY, WHAT and HOW.

We are Explorers – I’m sure you feel the same way, but I love exploring.  Because when I’m exploring, that means I’m learning something new (unless I’m driving, then it means I’m lost).  What are the ways we explore?  Researching our competition, performing buy, build or partner exercises, or simply when we ask penetrating questions during a customer interview.  We are always covering new ground, and it’s on purpose!

We are Patient – Our ability to be patient shines the greatest when we’re working on the “next big thing” and are smart enough to keep it under wraps until we’re within striking distance.  Nothing against my great friends in sales (you put food on my table!), but it’s easy for them to sell “futures” when they want to get chummy with a customer.  Unfortunately, doing so can bring customer dissatisfaction, delays in your sales, and can even affect how you recognize revenue.

We are Analytical – While there are many ways that we are analytical when it comes to being a great product manager, but I want to focus on two of them.  First, I liked Steve Johnson’s comment in my first post of this series when he stated “great product managers see patterns” and continues on to explain that we look for grouping of trends, not just individual occurrences.  I agree.  Secondly, we have to be honest in our collection of data.  We can’t have “happy ears” and only look for data that supports our opinions.  Unfortunately, poor product managers let their ego get in the way and forget to regard the data objectively.

So that’s it.  We are entrepreneurs, leaders and scientists.

Lastly, I wrote this series because I believe The Product Manager’s Psyche (future book?) is just as important as the techniques and tools we use to accomplish our critical tasks.  Knowing what to do is only helpful IF we can get it done, and great product managers who embody these characteristics certainly will.

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Responses

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