How to Avoid the 'Jack of All’ Trap in Product Management
By Arijit Banerjee
Product managers need to be able to do a lot of things. However, it does not mean they have to dabble in anything and everything. By trying to do too many things, you would not want to lose sight of your most important tasks, and end up being a mediocre product manager.
As the saying goes, “the person who chases two rabbits, catches neither.” Thus, for a product manager, first, it is essential to master the skills that are most crucial to their job role, in order to avoid a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ situation.
Here is how it can be done:
- Concentrate on the Essentials
Every profession has certain essentials, and product management is no exception. These are not tools or activities, but certain fundamentals that lay the foundation for this profession.
Some of the essentials for a product manager are:
- Understanding the problems of customers
- Listening to their complaints
- Strategic thinking to come up with a solution
- Analytical skills
- Root-cause analysis
- Logical inference
- People management
These attributes help a product manager adopt new product methods; aid him or her in executing a smooth product development process, and in developing innovative products.
- Identify and Focus on Few Aspects At A Time
Building a great product means the synergy of many aspects. For instance, customer development, pricing, packaging, backlog management, survey design, copywriting, data analysis, and so on. A product manager who tries to get too involved in each and every aspect may end up being a mediocre one.
Thus, it is imperative to focus on the gap or identify the aspects that need immediate attention. The key is to build real expertise in areas of depth rather than trying to be hands-on in all aspects, even when some of them are not on priority at a given point in time.
- Adopting the Right Mind-set
A product manager needs to cultivate the right mind-set to manage a product efficiently. Some of the mind-sets he or she needs to hone are:
- Human-Centred: This involves keeping in mind the problems of the people while developing a product.
- Experimental: This requires a product manager to understand the need to experiment, apart from a willingness to experiment.
- Collaborative: Broadly, this is about working as a team and ensuring that all teams involved in the product development process are working towards a common goal
- Meta-cognitive: This is about being aware of what you are doing and regularly monitoring and optimizing your working strategies.
It becomes quite easy to adopt these mind-sets, provided they already exist within each individual, across the whole team, and within the organizational fabric.
The ability to get inside the head of the customer, crunch numbers, analyse data, support the team of engineers and sales personnel comes with time. Trying to grab, learn and understand as many skills and abilities at once may lead the product manager to failure.
Thus, it is all about continuous learning and gradual implementation of various aspects of product management.