Product Management is for Everyone

A few months ago Michael Bromley (former Head of Customer Experience, Portals and Online Services, Integration and B2B at NBN co) spoke at one of our Executive Breakfast events. He was addressing a small room full Product Management Directors and spoke about reducing the scope and role of Product Managers in organisations. As you can imagine, many in the audience drew their swords and were shocked at his proposal.

But he made some valid points:

  1. Organisations should NOT solely rely on Product Managers to provide insights and articulate customer requirements. This should be shared so that everyone feels responsible for developing successful products.
  2. Market and customer information needs to be absorbed and shared by all participants of the product development process.
  3. Information should not ONLY be stored in documentation.
  4. Everyone in the business should understand and apply Product Management principles. Everyone should be thinking about the customer.
  5. Product Management thinking is valuable especially when it is de-centralised across the business.

I am reminded of Michael’s presentation because new events such as the StartUp Product Summit in San Francisco (7 Feb 2013) are bringing diverse people together to talk about products.

They write “Product is seeping into new areas it had not previously been before. Particularly with the rise of Agile development, teams are focusing more on disseminating the responsibilities of product throughout existing roles: developers, designers, founders, marketers.”

Is it a good or bad thing… Definitely good for Product Management but Product Managers are still important as they bring focus and galvanize this incredibly valuable thinking.