Product Management styles can differ from company to company, industry to industry and so on. What I will list here are things that a product manager can do irrespective of what the organization has for its process. Typically organization’s process would be the tools and methodologies. These are beyond those. In a sense, these are akin to Franklin’s virtues that I would like to follow. A lot of these could apply to any profession but I find them to be so valuable as a product manager.
True North: As a product manager, my true north is to obsess over what the customer of my product needs. They could be stated/unstated needs. Here, customer could mean the user or the buyer. Trade offs between a user & buyer can and will be handled. I will make it valuable & usable to them! In other words, I will not make it valuable only to me, my boss or my company. My true north is what is valuable to the customer (& which makes money for my company — that is the order) and I will strive everyday to get there.
The Basics: I will understand my company’s vision, its business strategy, its product strategy, its positioning vis-a-vis competitors, the segment we address and the persona so well that any decision I take will sub-consciously be influenced by those. If my company does not have any of these things articulated clearly, I will help create that articulation.
Think Big but Course Correct: Like anything in life, building/maintaining a product is a series of course corrections and balancing all the way. Like an airplane, which apparently is off course 99% of its journey (do not know if this is really true — but works as a metaphor). So, on an every day basis, I will do course corrections towards my True North. I will think long term and think big. I will not underestimate what I can achieve in the long term by citing short term issues. I understand that the most common path to mediocrity is “being practical”.
Focus Versus Flare: At any moment of the day, I will be aware of the mode of operation I should employ. I will ‘flare’ when I should (brainstorming, open ended user-research) and will ‘focus’ when I should (writing specifications, synthesizing user inputs).
Earn Trust First: Wherever I work, I will first fit in with the team culture and then make changes organically. I will not display any unwanted heroism. Without any manipulative tendencies, I will deploy tools like Ben Franklin effect, Robert Cialdini’s Influence & Presuasion and win over people.
Owner but No CEO: I will take complete ownership for my product and its outcomes (versus just the output). But I will not call myself the CEO. Every stakeholder is important. For my authority, I will strive to be so good in the product/tech/domain and be relentlessly resourceful that no one can ignore me.
Over Communicate: I will ensure that there is no information that is just in my brain. Everything will get documented in one place or another (depending on the context). I will err on the side of ‘over’ communicating than ‘under’ communicating. When I do, I will match up to the communication style & frequency of the person involved — their background, current position, domain knowledge and so on.
Learn & Be Curious: I will develop multi disciplinary knowledge by constant learning. I will remember that my goal is to find the best answer, not to give the best one I have. As I learn, I will change my opinions when evidence points that I was wrong. I will have strong views weakly held and not the other way.
Set High Standards: I will strive to set the highest possible standards in whatever I do — something that would positively affect others. I will paint the back of the fence too. I will be disciplined to the extent that it ‘creates’ energy, does not destroy.
Bias for Action: I will ‘act’ every day, even if it means very small steps towards a goal. I will not indulge in grandiose theories with nothing to show for in action. I will be on the ‘quantity’ side of the ceramic class.
Chase Antelopes: Both for my own time and for my product roadmap, I will ensure I chase antelopes and not field mice
I will internalize that all aspects of life have ‘Lindy’ effect. I will not get conned by the latest fads in terms of my tools & processes. I will revisit my virtues, tools and frameworks every year and throw away the ones that are not relevant anymore.