The genesis of episode’s topic came up in many conversations I’ve had with experienced product managers. Most product management job listings want you to have direct experience with the product you’ll be managing, or at least experience in the space. On the other hand, most experienced product managers think domain experience is the least valuable aspect of what we bring to the job.
Now, domain experience is not necessarily a bad thing! If you know and understand the space it means you can hit the ground running much quicker in some areas of your responsibility. On the other hand, there are some downsides to knowing a lot about the space – which we’ll get into in a future podcast, perhaps.
But in this episode we’re talking about another facet of this question – the general product management skills we bring.
No matter what company you join, and whether you know the domain or not, or the product or not, there are common problems or situations you’ll find. And even as a new product manager, even without domain experience, you can immediately start to work on these problems. Even if you can’t answer a question about the product itself intelligently (yet).
As a newbie to the company, product, and/or space, you have a perspective that’s incredibly valuable. You aren’t burdened with “the curse of knowledge.” You have a beginner’s mind both in terms of the product and in terms of the company’s processes. You can ask why the product works the way it does in a certain case. You can ask a customer how they use a certain feature, or why a certain feature is important to them.
You can also ask basic questions about the business processes, especially those that seem strange or broken. Often you’ll hear “Well, we’ve always done it that way.” Which suggests a potential for rethinking or improvement. Of course, you can’t start changing all the business processes in your first week. But from your perspective of “beginner’s mind,” you can start to note the processes that seem questionable, outmoded, inefficient, or backwards. And as you get more settled in, check to see if those early insights are actually true. And if so, you can start to improve those that are not working well.
Three Areas To Focus On When Starting
So in this episode we focus on three key points where product organizations can almost always improve: connecting with customers, connecting with the other organizations in the company, and basic metrics about the product and its business performance.
A few earlier podcasts that you might find interesting:
- We mentioned our “100 days” podcast in this episode. The link is: Guarantee Success In Your First 100 Days In A New Product Management Job.
- Here’s a little more on joining a company as a product manager (or the product manager) for a product that’s already in the market: Becoming the Product Manager for an Existing Product.
We hope you enjoy this episode. We really appreciate getting your opinion, so we’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or via Twitter (@atrnota) and our Medium publication, All The Responsibility.
As always, we’d love to ask two small favors from you:
- First, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can access the podcast directly on this feed.
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