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How to add value as a product manager?

Adam Wintle
Adam Wintle
Hi there,
Something that’s been on my mind a lot lately is if I’m actually adding value to the team and the product in my role as Product Manager. If I stopped doing what I do would anything change? Is Product Management just a hack or can team really not be successful without them? 
This also plays into the paranoid of imposter syndrome, which I know a lot of Product Managers suffer from. With thoughts like: Should I even be here at all? Am I here through dumb luck?
I’m still trying to figure out the real value of a Product Manager and making sure I add the best value to my team and product on a daily basis. Here’s a few of my thoughts of how I try and make sure I’m always delivering value everyday. 

At the intersection of UX, tech and business
A Product Manager has an interesting vantage point, they work with stakeholders from all over the organisation, including the end user. There isn’t anyone else within the organisation who does this on a regular basis. Every other role is always missing some other piece at the other end of the spectrum. For example, sales and marketing aren’t working or deeply understanding technical stakeholders; and the designers working closely with marketing people.
When stakeholders from these various groups raise feature requests they are only looking at it through the lens of their world. Usually their requests seem like no brainers to them, but often they aren’t taking into consideration the perspectives of other stakeholders and groups within the organisation. 
The Product Manager should be regularly meeting key members of these groups and understanding their needs and requests. The value a product manager adds here is that they are the only person who can balance all requests and get the overall big picture. 
This is hugely valuable to every group within the organisation, there’s nobody else who knows what every other department is working on and what their needs and wants are on a regular basis.  
Building Bridges
A lot of the time a Product Manager is acting in a mediator role, or something similar to a negotiator. You can’t please everyone at the same time. Prioritisation is one of the core responsibilities of a Product Manager. You have to take into consideration every stakeholder request and balance it against all the other requests coming from within the organisation and also from external customers too. 
If you are in agreement with one group it’s unavoidable that you’ll have to say no to another person’s idea or request. It’s not that you’re trying to be difficult, it’s just part of the process of building great products. 
Essentially it all boils down to building bridges between the different stakeholders and groups within your organisation. Some people’s ideas get built now and other people’s will get built later. 
Everyone needs to be in alignment and understanding about this, otherwise it builds friction and bad feelings. 
I find the best way to mitigate this is to share common documents and artefacts which can align everyone around what we’re focusing on now, next and later. It helps create a central focal point for discussions and also lets people know their ideas weren’t ignored and will be considered later. 
Laser Focus on the Customer
This isn’t to be confused with the design team; they are foxed on the user’s experience, which is great; but they aren’t always focused on the value being delivered to the end user. Quite often the design team just tries to make the user interface as easy-to-use as possible. 
The Product Manager takes this one step further and keeps in mind why a feature exists at all, and if this feature will help the end user be successful with the product and if it will help the organisation achieve their business objectives.
As a Product Manager you should keep in mind the end customer all the time. The end customer = revenue and value delivered by the product in the marketplace. 
At the end of the day everybody else has agendas which aren’t focused on the end customer; the tech people are focused on delivering the highest quality tech solutions, the designers are focused on delivering the best user experience, etc. It’s only the Product Manager who synthesises all of this to come up with an independent conclusion about what is best for the customer and the business. 
Here’s a few links to some articles which are relevant:
The Real Value of a Product Manager | Aha! Blog
Add value as a Product Manager from Day 1
Thanks for reading!
Not sure if you noticed but this is the first newsletter in about six months! I’ve been super busy, but now that the year is starting to wind down I’m hoping I can get my newsletter going again. If you enjoyed it let me know.
Also I’ve been making a Google Sheet called “Adam Wintle’s Big Sheet of Product Management Articles, Resources and Content” take a look and let me know what you think.
Adam Wintle
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Adam Wintle
Adam Wintle @adamwintle

Focusing on People and Product: the intersection of psychology and product management.

After working in product for over a decade and speaking to many other product mangers (as well as UXers, growth people, marketers and techies) the number one struggle I heard again and again is that people are at the root of the majority of the problems.

Once you have mastered the basics of product management. Once you have read all the books. After you’ve been to all the conferences. You’ve seen all the YouTube videos; you’re a member of all the Slack communities. Then you are only left with learning how to lead, work with and manage other people, to get them all aligned and pointing in the same direction, so you can build your product vision and ultimately build a successful product.

This art of People & Product can take decades to master. I’m certainly not a master of this yet, but I thought you might enjoy following along on my journey. Want in?

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