What kind of product manager am I?

I've been a product manager for over a year now. I'd like to think I've learned a lot along the way. I want to document that journey to date and into the future.

What kind of product manager am I?

I have a monthly 1-on-1 with my boss, the head of product at Shopify. This last one was particularly good. He described two types of product managers: the Operational PM, and the Mercenary PM.

The Operational PM is meticulous and detail-oriented. I've started reading Inspired: How to Create Products People Love and in it, the author tries to separate the Product Manager from the Product Marketing and Project Management roles. At Shopify, there's a bit of all of that in being a PM.

A Mercenary PM, though, is a problem solver. They're the type of person that can really tackle a problem, break it down, and build it back together again.

These two types are by no means exclusive. The skills for one are useful for the other and a product manager is going to have a mix of all these skills. They're just driven in different ways.

I consider myself more of the mercenary type. I thrive on the problem solving — especially from a design perspective. I really enjoy having all the pieces of the puzzle in my head and working to fit them all together.

When I was at Yahoo!, I never saw the PMs. They seemed very removed from the design and development team. At Shopify, I sit with design and development. I want to be in those conversations. I want to make sure the best decisions are being made at all levels because every piece is part of making a fantastic product with a great experience.

Where do you sit? In Crossing the Developer-Designer-PM Chasm , that very question is raised. A good PM, in my opinion, is in the thick of it, not on the fringe. It's where they need to be to build the knowledge to make good product decisions.

Published April 23, 2014
Categorized as Product Management
Short URL: https://snook.ca/s/1035