Let's start with Who is a Product Manager? The one thing I kept of hearing was Product Managers are the CEOs of their products. The more catchy part was Product Managers have a better chance of becoming the actual CEOs :) Wikipedia defines product manager is the one who investigates, selects, develops, products for an organization, performing the activity of product management.
A person that usually focuses on inbound planning activities to increase a product's perceived value to the customer.Is Product Manager same as a Project Manager? NO...A Project Manager manages a set of projects. He/She mostly works on managing product development activities.
Whereas a Product Manager manages a set of projects related to product strategy, business model, planning, and other activities throughout the Product Life Cycle. But to an extent, product manager role depends much upon the organization, its size and the industry sector.
What are the roles in the Product Management career path. This link provide a good view on the various levels - http://ask.goodproductmanager.com/2008/08/18/what-is-the-best-product-manager-career-path/
How can one become a good product manager? Some of the tips I heard through out the sessions in the conclave were:
1) Understand the requirements & needs of the customers out there; interpret them and productize the idea. Still customer is @ the center!
2) Thorough market research. Make strategic moves. There may be many problems out there to solve. We should select the right problem that the product manager's team is capable of solving. Facts should rule over intuition
3) Customers are the key to a product manager. However make sure a single customer doesn't rule you
4) Enabling the Sales team, getting their respect at the same time making sure they understand the capabilities and limitations of the product is the KEY. A product manager needs to play the role of an orchestrator for the stakeholders, rather than just another stakeholder
5) Have the courage to say NO irrespective whether it is the key customer or the development lead! (really?)
6) Learn to prioritize and adapt. At the same time no compromise on quality even if you are working for the best brand in the industry! (that is why yours is the best brand :) )
7) Product Manager is the one who have no reportees , even then have to manage everyone in the product team, so learn that skill!
8) Execute like a CEO (Product Manager is the CEO of his/her product)
Some of the success mantras of best product managers:
1) Give the due importance to 4Ps (I have personally witnessed how much time one of the best teams spend time in just picking the right name!)
2) Time the product launch
3) Balance the requirements & features in each version (its not just prioritizing, its the judicious decisions based on facts and domain experience)
4) Always measure how the product is doing (Unbiased and rigorous)
5) Product Managers are the Value Managers!
Below is a good video on how to excel in product marketing and product management career, a panel discussion @ Stanford Graduate School of Business.
ps: The excerpt is based on my understanding of the session. It may or may not be what the speaker intended to. Also I am only a aspiring product manager :)