If you want to be a bad product manager, accept what you hear. Resign yourself to be constrained by what others tell you. Give up whenever you face resistance. Don’t push back when something doesn’t seem right. Just accept things as they appear, and work within those limits.
If you want to be a good product manager, prevent yourself from getting lulled into complacency. The most powerful force working against product managers isn’t the competition or problematic customers or other groups within your company — it’s yourself.
Product managers need to advocate what is best for their customers and their product. There will be situations where forces are working against you, where you hear phrases like
- It’s always been done that way
- It’s against our policy
- That’s not possible
- We’ve never tried that before
- We don’t know how
- I don’t think that’s a good idea
It is very easy to forget what you are trying to accomplish and accept these answers. There will always be obstacles along the way, and you may need to fight for what you believe is right. This is a necessary part of product management and often may be crucial to your success.
Do not accept these excuses as reasons to give up. If anything, they signal areas where there is resistance for some other reason. “That’s not possible” may really mean “We don’t have the right skills or knowledge.”
Sure, there will be times when there will be legitimate excuses, and you should not feel demoralized. You will not always get what you want, or what you think is best for your customers and your product. However, you will have succeeded if you pushed as hard as made sense. As long as you do not become complacent and accept excuses as fact, you still have a chance of prevailing.