John Cutler wrote a great article here: We Need Fewer Product Managers. — To a Product Manager, it’s a provocative, and maybe disturbing title, but I definitely get where he’s coming from.
“…We need more product thinking, and less product managing.
You don’t need a product manager to:
- “Get work done”, and keep the team focused
- Manage projects, and give status updates
- Manage a team, and advocate for the team
- Have “accountability” for shipping features/projects
- Facilitate standups, planning meetings, and retrospectives
- Talk to customers and users
- Measure the impact of work, and design experiments
- Write user stories and requirements
- Test work with customers and users
We have roles (hats) for these things: project managers, UX, researchers, data scientists, business analysts, team managers, coaches, etc. Do product managers often wear these hats? Sure. Do you need a product manager to wear these hats? No.”
John’s exactly right.
We have roles for these things, for these many and varied disciplines. Of course, especially in the beginning, there’s usually one evangelist wearing a lot of these hats, but as an organization matures towards a product-centric approach, the role typically known as the product manager, rather organically, becomes that of the product thinker. I’m confident that, in time, the natural evolution that brings together, seemingly disparate, disciplines like UX, IT and business needs will be thought of as a whole instead of separate parts. This is the natural outcome of truly undergoing a digital transformation. That evolution is happening, albeit slowly outside of software development organizations, but it is happening.