Every company is different, every job is different — hence every Product Manager role is different. By separating B2B from B2C and identifying the main drivers behind product innovation, certain archetypes can be identified, however.
Driven by technology and always looking for areas where technical skills can have the highest impact
E.g. Google, Dropbox inventing new products for consumers
Product Managers typically have a strong background in Computer Science and closely collaborate with Engineering teams who are often very familiar with the problem space.
A typical example would be to develop Lidar-based products for autonomous driving.
Working primarily with (usage) data and aiming at scaling an existing product
E.g. Paypal understanding payments among merchants and consumers
E.g. Netflix, Facebook, LinkedIn, Booking optimizing adoption based on usage tracking
Product Managers have a deep understanding of data and statistics and often collaborate closely with data scientists or business analysts.
An example that can often be observed is optimizing the onboarding of new users based on A/B testing.
Collaborate closely with design to come up with innovative solutions to user needs
E.g. Square, Asana, Figma bringing the beauty of consumer apps to the business world
E.g. Instagram, Apple, Airbnb, Snapchat, Spotify driving user adoption by premium design
Often in pre-product-market-fit situations when data isn’t yet available, Product Managers go very deep into user research to understand the pains, gains, and needs. Together with the design team, they develop solutions that, more often than not, build on new paradigms.
A canonical example is the iPhone which, when introduced in 2007, re-invented smartphones in many different ways.
Ensure success in markets where a lot of dimensions need to be considered, including product features, pricing, go-to-market, sales strategy, partnerships, etc.
E.g. Salesforce, Workday, Marketo, Oracle, DocuSign
Product Managers collaborate with all stakeholders and help align the entire team toward the success of the product. Often regulatory aspects need to be considered and specifically in B2B a longer sales process will require extra care around the product roadmap.
A recent example is Salesforce’s launch of the Sustainability Cloud as an extension of Salesforce’s offering.
Given the above different prototypical representations of Product Managers, there is of course a huge variety in real life. Hence, it is important to understand whether the current company and position are a good match for a specific Product Manager personality.
The key idea behind PM Daisy isn’t so much to assess individual competencies but rather to identify good PM positions depending on personal preferences such that you can get clarity over your Product Management career.
Software organizations differentiate between front-end, back-end, mobile, machine learning, security, embedded, DevOps, and other engineers. It’s time for organizations to become more sophisticated about product management and do the same.