I was kinda waiting until the latest post was 3650 days old, but this has been rattling around in my head for awhile and it needed to come out.

I’ve worked with a lot of product managers over the past 15 years (and I’m kinda sorta thinking about becoming one) and I’ve noticed that there are a few major categories of skills/behaviours/talents. Every one of these is critical, but in my experience, no single person is great at all four. IMNSHO, every software product team that wants to be successful needs to have someone halfway competent playing every one of these roles at least part-time.


  • How does the product work, broadly speaking?
  • What kinds of use cases can be supported with configuration, and which require code?
  • What kinds of changes are easy, and which are hard?


  • Who’s working on what?
  • Does everyone seem to be motivated?
  • Is our work breakdown/ticket granularity appropriate?
  • Does the team have the skills, training, experience necessary to execute well against the product roadmap?
  • Are we burning down? Are the process exceptions that are getting thrown for good reasons?

Customer Empathy

  • Basic UX, usability
  • What problems are customers trying to solve, and how much effort do they need to put in to do so? Is the experience frustrating?
  • Ease of customization
  • How much cognitive load are we making customers incur?


  • What kinds of customers are likely to want what we’re building?
  • If we use very specific, vertical language to target particular market segments, which of those are the best to invest our time in?
  • If we want to use a general-purpose marketing approach, how can we describe what we’re building in terms that our target customers are likely to understand?

I think I’m pretty decent at the first three of these, and not great at the last yet. What should I be reading?