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Why is Product Management so misunderstood?

Why is Product Management so misunderstood?

As a discipline, Product Management is talked about inconsistently across our industry. This is due to its recent rapid increase in popularity. Companies are increasingly focused on return on their digital investments. It’s also because it’s difficult to do Product Management really well. This has lead to an explosion in the amount of tools, frameworks and approaches to support a Product Manager. But this has counterproductively made it very difficult for a Product Manager to know where to focus their attention. However, when you take a step back, the purpose of the discipline is simple and empowering:

Create better commercial outcomes through digital solutions by determining what the right thing to build is.

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This means that effective Product Managers only allow ideas that have been validated commercially, technically and by the user to make it to market. This prevents wastage and ensures that the team is working on something meaningful.  

The tools, frameworks and approaches that someone uses to achieve this are – to a large degree – arbitrary. Wearing a cowboy hat doesn’t make you a cowboy. If someone is not achieving better commercial outcomes, then they’re not doing Product Management.

The inconvenient truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all framework or killer tool for effective Product Management. It’s about understanding the purpose of the discipline, having the right attitude and being flexible in your approach to individual cases.

We have found through our partnerships with clients that there are a number of key factors which determine what the right tools, frameworks and approaches are to a given case. These include the existing technical infrastructure, the internal organisational structure and of course the goals of the product and alignment with the overall business strategy.

Our approach is to always start with that simple purpose of Product Management and we structure our work by focussing on the two core tenets of the discipline:

  1. Define a clear product strategy: Understand why the product should exist through a value-based approach and align the entire team on this. Iterate when necessary.
  2. Create and manage healthy roadmaps: Lead a cross-discipline discovery process to build a roadmap based on solving problems. Validate solutions with evidence.

Then we tailor our team and deliverables to suit each individual product from the wealth of tools available from our expertise in UX, technology and business strategy. These tools focus on:

  • Framing the problem right to understand what we’re trying to achieve
  • Planning and communicating a healthy roadmap of what to achieve and when
  • Generating high quality and feasible ideas quickly
  • Bringing those ideas to life through prototyping
  • Test and validate ideas against commercial, design and technology criteria
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In this way, we are able to create better commercial outcomes through digital solutions for our clients by helping them to determine what the right thing to build is. In our upcoming blog posts, we’ll be talking about how we apply the Nodes Product Management methodology to solve the big challenges of creating, launching and managing digital products.

If you would like to know more about Product Management or talk about how Nodes can support your team, please get in touch.

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