As I am clearing my head about my own role as Agile Product (or sometimes Project) Manager, I decided to create a list of the most important skills I should have. Silently, I will also evaluate how I match up against those skills
- Number one for me is to be able to see the larger picture. There is a wide world out there, within which, a product should take its rightful place. A product manager should be able to understand the width, breadth and depth of the market.
- Communication is another significant aspect. After all, the product manager is nothing but a liaison between (future) customers, stakeholders, team members and the World Wide Web. Being able to explain clearly abstract ideas, being able to understand what people imply, is a skill that cannot be disregarded.
- Prioritising development is another significant aspect, especially of project management. IT may sound self evident. However, the fact is that very few people understand how to create a successful task list, and even fewer can implement it within the existing time framework.
- Measuring and analysing continuously is an integral part of the job. Since certainties are not in existence, the direction of the team should be defined and redefined non-stop. In this case, past experience is extremely important. Performance in similar previous projects could set a clearer benchmark for the team.
- Understanding technology is essential, even if the product manager is not a computer science graduate. To be exact, translating technology into a business is an all important skill that very few people have.
- In combination with technological understanding, the product manager should also have some basic design knowledge. He does not have to have a degree in fine arts to grasp good and bad design elements. Nevertheless, he should be able to appreciate great design and stir the team towards this direction.
- Writing well is also essential for the in depth understanding of the product, the market, the workings of the team, the marketing strategy, etc.Again, it is not necessary to be an author. It is essential, though, for texts to be clearly understood. Misunderstandings could cause setbacks and, in the worst of the cases, fatal failures.
- Although the product manager is not supposed to be a psychologist, he should understand human nature and its complexity. A level of emotional intelligent goes with the job. Admitting they make mistakes, abolishing blame culture, work on their own personal growth (as well as that of the team) are especially important.
- I strongly believe that the co-creation of software products is at the core of any successful business. This co-creation demands a high level of customer development skills and the ability to conduct face to face customer interviews.
So, to summarise. The product manager should be a psychologist, a writer, an artist, a technologist, a researcher, a project manager, a futurologist. Frankly, I do not think I get paid enough!