Is learning product management challenging or hard to master?

Being a great PM is really difficult because it involves talents in a variety of areas to succeed, yet sometimes I think it’s just a mambo-jambo job with low hurdles to entry, where actually anyone could get started: (strategy, research, data, tech, collaboration & communication, decision making, execution, product sense)

Although getting started as a PM in my fifth year was actually quite simple, I was unable to advance to seniority. Additionally, the more I read on Twitter about excellent PMs, the less I feel like I belong there.


After a week of employment, I believe you will notice the fakers. However, firms are terrible at finding qualified PMs, or perhaps there is such a huge demand that they will hire anyone who is brave enough to pursue the field at all.


@MarioRomero, You’re probably right that there is a great need for product managers because I was able to pass the first step of an interview for a PM role and am ready to move on to the second stage. A week prior to applying for the job, I had no idea what a product manager was.

Fortunately for the employer, though, I’ve been learning everything I can about the position since the interview so I can excel at it.


I’ve tried to fake it till I made it a lot of times. If you have drive, it works. However, if you don’t succeed, the corporation is taking a big risk. However, I also think that this behaviour will continue forever. Because businesses frequently claim that they would prefer to hire someone who is eager to learn and develop than someone who has expertise but lacks motivation, but in practise they rarely let such kinds of people in. It is challenging to assess a candidate’s motivation or ability to quickly catch up.

Fun fact: When I was 19 years old, I was hired as an IT technician right out of college. I had my own office, a company car, and a respectable salary for the time. Later, when I had no verified experience, I questioned the IT Manager about why he had bet on me. Because I saw on your resume that you are not afraid of hard work, he said. However, my resume basically consisted of me working my ass off every summer since I was 14 in order to have my own money and move out to my own apartment as soon as possible.


That’s good to know because I recently graduated from college and had intended to work as a web developer. However, the pay for this position was very high, and I hadn’t anticipated getting a response when I sent my resume.

I’ve worked hard my entire life and have held a variety of jobs, including an internship that I recently completed (unfortunately the company ran out of money and shut down whilst I was there).

What distinguishes a poor PM from a good one, in your opinion?


How challenging is it to think of ideas? Any idiot can do that; it’s not that difficult.

But how simple is it to come up with good, amazing, and pertinent ideas?

But how straightforward is it to express those thoughts clearly?

But how simple is it to persuade others that these are wise decisions?

How simple is it to prove that those were truly excellent ideas, though?

But how simple is it to divide it into more manageable logical bits that may then be delivered fast while still making sense?

But how do you balance all these excellent ideas with some less-than-excellent ideas and even downright stupid ideas coming from other stakeholders?

I dunno man, that’s only one component of the work, but it seems pretty freaking hard.


The discovery, evaluation, and prioritization of issues and opportunities are the PM’s responsibilities. Problems and ideas are not the same thing. An idea is a problem-solving concept you have thought of. Although a PM should make some contributions to concept generation, the designer and engineers should ultimately take ownership of the solution.


You seem to be getting bogged down in technicalities, in my opinion. Ideas are simply a potential line of action; they do not necessarily imply answers. And it happens before finding answers.

And do your engineers and designers actually control the solution space in the team you work on? How does that seem in your day-to-day life?


I get your point. Personally, I believe that this distinction needs to be made. It can be extremely tempting to adopt the “CEO of the product” approach of being the team’s idea person and seeing your role as nothing more than coming up with amazing new ideas that get developed, especially for new PMs. And on occasion, such setup does work, particularly when the PM is fantastic and the team members are inexperienced or not very interested.

Given that designers and engineers control the solution space, our daily operations probably resemble yours with a few minor modifications. Instead of a backlog of features, we have a backlog of opportunities. The team gathers to discuss potential solutions to the most pressing issues. The designer and engineer will be the captains, and the PM will serve as an advisor as they pick some, test them, and make adjustments. Other than the fact that I don’t provide my designers or engineers a spec for a pre-defined solution to construct, it’s actually not a significantly different way of working.


That makes sense. Thanks for your thoughtful answer


I oversee a group of six PMs, and I firmly instruct them "Your explicit value is in identifying user pain from as many sources as you can, synthesising that pain into data, evaluating that data, and then advising the business on what to do to alleviate it.

I won’t tell you what to do or what the plan is; instead, I need you to advise the company and me on the best course of action. Project management, sprint planning, estimating, and any other low level BAU tasks should be delegated as much as possible to your tech leads and engineering managers."

Project management is open to any chump. My definition of a proper, actual PM is someone who can generate well-thought-out, well-validated ideas, hypotheses, or “bets” in (often) uncertain, contradictory, complex, multi-stakeholder, hard-to-get-good-data spaces, dissect them to pieces before devoting any time to them, and be 3-6 months ahead of the developers in terms of where we need to go next.


You must be referring to the fact that project management is by nature a more transportable talent, making them more interchangeable. I’ve played both roles, and from my experience, no matter how brilliant the idea is or how well the demand has been validated, divided, and prioritised, if the project executing the features or product is managed poorly, it will surely fail.

To pull it done from start to finish, you also need competent engineers, marketers, and salespeople.


I definitely disagree with this. Yes, all of the items you stated are necessary. Execution must be given first priority, though, or else your ideas would be useless. Ideas, PRDs, and research are all useless if you don’t act on them, I always tell PMs and POs. Yes, this is a shared obligation, but as a PM, it is your duty to ensure that any feature you own is produced.


Who do you think will write the epics and user stories if you anticipate PMs to be centered on what you mentioned above? How big is the product organization and business you work for as well? Thanks


I don’t want to suggest that the PM’s job is to manage projects. Understanding customer pain, syncing data, evaluating those pain spots, issues, and opportunities, and working with designers and engineers who should ultimately own the solution should be the PM’s responsibility (with input and consultation from the PM).

I’m sure you’re an excellent manager, but you might be imposing a dynamic on your staff that prevents designers and engineers from performing their duties to the best of their abilities.

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It’s a well-known fact that the PMs own the problem space while the rest of the team owns the solution area. I’ve also used it a few times, but regrettably I believe it’s just a handy method to characterize something for which our community lacks a consensus: “what is the purpose of a PM?”

It just doesn’t work in practice. Since that is your main concern, I’ll concentrate on the solution space here. The ultimate objective of the team is to solve customer problems and generate exceptional value for the company. Each team member offers a unique viewpoint to the table. A PM will undoubtedly provide a valuable viewpoint to the table because they are familiar with the business issue, product strategy, competition, operational limitations, and consumer frustrations and gains. Why on earth would we exclude people from developing ideas?

They shouldn’t be the only ones coming up with ideas or utilising power to get their ideas enacted, though (rather than the best ones). Good PMs must be modest and allow the best ideas to prevail. The most brilliant ideas frequently emerge 20 or 50 times before they are implemented. By that time, it has evolved from various perspectives and is superior to what a single individual could have thought of.

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Yes, you make a very valid point, and I mainly concur. In my opinion, “owning” something simply implies “being the leader and ultimately accountable,” not “being the only one participating.” Therefore, in my role as a PM, I frequently support my designers and engineers by introducing ideas and offering comments on those ideas. However, I don’t “own” that choice or that procedure; I’m merely acting as a consultant.