WTF is a Product Manager?

Product management is a critical part of a healthy product development process, but it can be difficult to pin it down the specifics of it as a role.

I really like this essay by Ernest Kim, WTF is a Product Manager?  Definitely worth a read—he has a lot of miles under his belt as a product developer, so this is reality speaking.

Here’s a choice bit:

An example I’ve used in the past is that the designers and developers at Nike are so good that they could create a shoe that looks like a boat, yet still offers the performance and comfort of cutting edge athletic footwear. But if it turns out that there’s no market for shoes that look like boats, that product would fail—regardless of its beauty or functionality. In short, it doesn’t matter if the answer is right if the question you set out to answer is wrong. It’s the job of the product manager to ensure that the product team is working to answer the right question(s).

I think Ernest really nails it. Asking the right question is as important as coming up with the right solution. Out of respect for how hard it is to ship a great solution to market, I don’t want to say it’s more important, but it is really important.