What do you think is the most debated viewpoint in product management?

The position I had with the most freedom was in product management. Almost always, I had complete control over my schedule, my tasks, what I prioritized, and what I focused on. (Or at least considerable power)

The controversial view: To those blabbering about how terrible product management is and how much you despise it, it might be your own fault because you probably have a lot more freedom than most folks in other jobs to improve it. I’ve been doing it for a while, at different companies and levels, and I still enjoy my job every day.


I believe there are bad product teams where the product managers are more like babysitters than actual product managers.

In spite of this, I believe that many product managers are terrified of the freedom and responsibility they have. Even in the best circumstances, it can be a little scary. In addition, I can understand how it would be a terrifying and stressful role if it didn’t scratch the itch to pursue some innovative but risky ideas.


“Scary” is the perfect word!

It can be very scary to have everyone, from leadership to your engineers, looking to you for the next issue to solve, and if you have had some success in the past, there is almost a pressure on you to choose another “winner”.

At times, it can be extremely stressful.


I’ll just change it a little to “have the most potential control and influence” and add “but is forever cursed with this double-edged sword”.


One of the most debated viewpoints in product management is the role and balance of intuition versus data-driven decision-making. Product managers often find themselves at a crossroads between relying on their gut instincts and making decisions based on solid data and user feedback.

On one hand, some argue that intuition and a deep understanding of the market and users are essential for creating innovative and breakthrough products. They believe that relying solely on data might lead to incremental improvements but could miss out on game-changing opportunities.

On the other hand, proponents of data-driven decision-making emphasize the importance of analyzing user behavior, metrics, and feedback to make informed choices. They contend that intuition can be biased, subjective, and prone to personal biases, whereas data provides objective insights into what users actually do.


Quite agree with @WhitneyChard. I would say that this debate can create tensions within product teams and organizations, as different individuals may have varying perspectives on how much weight should be given to intuition versus data. Striking the right balance between the two can be challenging, as both have their merits and potential drawbacks.

In the end, successful product managers often integrate both intuition and data-driven insights, using data to validate or challenge their assumptions and intuition to guide creative thinking and vision. The optimal approach can vary depending on the specific product, market, and context, which adds complexity to the ongoing discussion.


The “double-edged sword” aspect comes into play when discussing the potential downsides of having control and influence. While having the power to shape a product’s direction is empowering, it can also lead to burnout, decision fatigue, and the weight of accountability if things don’t go as planned. Additionally, striking the right balance between autonomy and collaboration can be challenging, as overemphasis on either side could result in suboptimal outcomes.

In the end, the product management community grapples with finding the optimal level of control and influence that empowers product managers to innovate and lead while also ensuring that decisions are well-rounded, informed, and aligned with organizational goals. This ongoing debate reflects the complexities of the role and the unique challenges that product managers face in their quest to create successful products.


I can’t get this goddamn truth out of my head. We are, indeed, free, more so than others. But this freedom also brings with it a very subtle understanding of what responsibility really entails.

There are factors that are beyond our control. Do not challenge them.


Absolutely @CarolynMiles, the sense of freedom in product management is often accompanied by a weighty responsibility that can’t be ignored. While product managers have the authority to make decisions, prioritize tasks, and drive projects, they are also entrusted with the outcome of those decisions, and this reality underscores the importance of careful consideration.

Recognizing that there are factors beyond one’s control is a crucial aspect of effective product management. The market landscape, user preferences, technological shifts, and unforeseen challenges can all impact the success of a product, no matter how well thought out the strategy might be. It’s essential to strike a balance between taking charge of what can be controlled and adapting to what cannot.


True @DianneStinger, acknowledging the limits of control can lead to a more adaptable and resilient approach. Rather than fighting against external factors, successful product managers often focus on staying agile, embracing change, and leveraging their freedom to make strategic adjustments based on new information and evolving circumstances.

This awareness of responsibility and the boundaries of control can lead to a more holistic and mindful approach to product management. It encourages a willingness to collaborate, learn from failures, and seek insights from various sources, all of which contribute to a better chance of navigating the complexities of the role and delivering successful products.


Perhaps, I might not want freedom in my heart. I wish to be controlled. And I believe that this is true for the majority of people. There is less freedom with more structure, but there is also less chance of making a mistake. Occasionally, I do experience that. Give me a list of tasks, and I’ll complete them. I no longer desire to make decisions.


Actually, I concur with this. For anyone conducting an interview, creating structure out of uncertainty is an exciting prospect. However, as soon as the reality sinks in, they realize how annoying that shit is. No doubt about it—it is exhausting.


Absolutely, conducting interviews and assessing candidates for product management roles can indeed be an exciting but challenging task. The process involves seeking out individuals who can navigate uncertainty, make informed decisions, and create structure amidst chaos—skills that are integral to successful product management.

However, as you mentioned, the reality of evaluating candidates can quickly highlight the complexities and challenges of the role. The exhaustion comes from sifting through diverse skill sets, evaluating how well candidates can balance creativity with data-driven decision-making, and determining if they possess the right mix of strategic thinking, empathy, and collaboration.

Additionally, the interview process itself can be demanding. Interviewers need to design effective questions that reveal a candidate’s problem-solving abilities, communication skills, and capacity to handle the inherent ambiguity of product management. The challenge lies in assessing not just technical qualifications but also the candidate’s fit within the team’s dynamics and the company’s culture.

Despite the exhaustion, finding the right candidate is immensely rewarding. A skilled and well-suited product manager can have a significant positive impact on a company’s products and overall success. The interview process serves as a gateway to identifying individuals who can thrive in this complex, ever-changing role and contribute to the organization’s growth.

While the exhaustion is real, it’s a necessary part of the journey to build a strong product management team that can effectively navigate the challenges and opportunities of the field.


It takes a lot of energy, but it doesn’t feel like it wasn’t worth it when you were able to persuade sales to stop talking about their stupid enterprise laundry list, engineering to stop working on their 3 year stupid replatforming science project that no one wants to use, and the CxOs to stop prioritizing their stupid pet project and actually ship the right goddamn thing for once, for the sake of our sanity and the success of our company.


Absolutely, the effort and energy invested in product management become incredibly rewarding when you can successfully align various stakeholders and guide the team toward making the right decisions. Convincing sales, engineering, and leadership to focus on the most valuable and impactful initiatives can lead to significant positive outcomes for both the team’s sanity and the company’s success.

In many organizations, there can be competing priorities, differing opinions, and individual pet projects that can derail the product roadmap or dilute its effectiveness. The role of a skilled product manager shines through when they can bring clarity, data-driven insights, and a user-centric perspective to the table, helping everyone see the bigger picture.


Exactly @DhirajMehta, by redirecting efforts toward projects that truly matter, you’re not only optimizing the use of resources but also ensuring that the company’s products align with market needs and customer desires. This kind of influence demonstrates the power of effective product management in driving strategic decision-making and steering the company toward achieving its goals.

The challenges you face and the energy you invest are all part of the journey toward creating impactful products and fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation within the organization. When you witness the positive outcomes and see the fruits of your efforts come to fruition, the feeling of accomplishment and the contribution to the company’s success make it all worthwhile.


I believe that many people are unfortunately entangled in sloppy systems that force them to serve as human clipboards in meetings all day long while donning the title of “product manager.” They can’t really do much about it because the company has it set up that way. They have no choice but to resign from their positions and seek employment as actual PMs.

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Exact this.

I spent four years as a PM at a company that claimed to be a start-up to explain the haphazardness of its operations. To complete even the smallest feature, I had to essentially run from one pillar to the next. There was absolutely no structure, so my job was to constantly put out fires, deliver information to the developers in a timely manner, implore the users to complete UAT on time, and fervently hope that this was exactly what they wanted. Most of the time, users wanted something additional to what they initially desired.

My boss, who acknowledged that the situation was problematic and used to respond to my cries of help by saying, “when in Rome, be a Roman”.

Due to burnout, I quit my job a few months ago, and I’m still having trouble motivating myself to look for new work. Work ethic has completely died. I’m seriously thinking about switching careers. I have enough money saved up to last for six months. Before I lose my home and go bankrupt, I really hope to get my act together and start applying for jobs.

Also @CoreyAmorin, your viewpoint is not unpopular; however, a PM’s career in a company is frequently made or broken by the organizational culture. My friend in MS absolutely loves her job as a PM. The PM will succeed in his endeavors because there is adequate structure and support in place.

Sorry, my rant is over.