How To Be A Good Product Manager

Tips on product management and product marketing for product managers. By Jeff Lash

Explore your curiosity

Posted on March 7, 2007 by Jeff Lash · 2 Comments

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If you want to be a bad product manager, stick with what you know. You don’t need to look outside your current market or customers, since your current strategy has proven successful so far. Take feedback from customers at face value. Don’t bother digging deeper, as there is likely nothing important to be uncovered. Keeping up with trends and innovations is probably a waste of time, since it’s unlikely any of them will ever impact your product, and if they do, you’ll have plenty of advance warning. What you know right now should be plenty to keep you going for a long time.

If you want to be a good product manager, be curious. Product managers need to have a genuine interest in learning more about the market, customer needs, new technologies, and other trends. It’s not a question of whether or if these will impact your product, it’s a question of when.

Product managers need to constantly be learning, adapting, and evolving. They need to keep current with changes in everything from society and government to technology and innovation. You can not rest on your laurels — look at every day as an opportunity to learn something new that can have an impact on your product.

In the wrap up to his article on Surviving Product Management, Louis Columbus comments that

the best product managers have an inherent curiosity and passion not just for the technologies in their products, but most importantly, how they align with users’ needs today and in the future. Staying relevant to customers is more important than being technologically elegant.

Paul Young goes one step further over on Product Beautiful, declaring that curiosity is The Most Important Trait a Product Manager Needs:

The #1 trait I look for in people who would make good Product Managers is an extreme sense of curiosity. Curious people are wonderful – they ask the most powerful question in the World: “why?” Curious people read a lot and tend to self-teach valuable skills. Most importantly, curious people aren’t satisfied with what people tell them, they stay awake at night wondering what they’re missing and love the process of discovery. Some skills can be taught; curiosity is a character trait.

Paul’s last sentence is worth remembering. If you want to be a product manager but are not very curious by nature, it will be hard if not impossible to make yourself be more curious. For those who are curious by nature, it’s important to make time to explore your curiosity about the market, customers, new products, or anything really that could potentially benefit you or your product. Often you will not realize the benefit of something while you are learning about it — only later when it becomes applicable do you realize the value.

Open your mind, learn new things, ask questions, and dig deeper. Curiosity is a good thing.

How To Be A Good Product Manager features tips on product management and product marketing, written by Jeff Lash (@jefflash on Twitter), Vice President and Group Director for the Product Management and Portfolio Marketing research and advisory services at SiriusDecisions.

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