What Makes A Product Management Superhero?

August 12, 2014

Product Leadership

So you’re looking to hire that extra special product manager? Or perhaps you’re looking to be the best at your own game. Here are 5 giveaway powers of a product management superhero that can help you on the road to developing excellent products.

Superhuman curiosity

A product manager should have the sort of personality that means they never stop looking for answers. Rather than a simple question of creativity or ingenuity (all great qualities too, but you have a team at your disposal for that), the PM should be constantly asking ‘why’ and ‘how’. He thinks about whether a problem is really being solved in the best possible way. She’s genuinely intrigued by the needs of her users. A superhuman drive to explore the unknown equips a product manager to sniff out hidden solutions.

X-ray product vision

At the intersection of technology, business and customer and the reserve of countless sources of information, product management has to be a heavily organized game. It’s your job to take insight from anything from a sales conversation to a customer support request and translate all of that into workable product specs without missing a bit. But perhaps the biggest challenge in juggling each of these snippets of information is to maintain razor sharp focus. The product management superhero sees through all extraneous data to how to best achieve the product vision.

Charming communication

Product Managers need to be great communicators. And that means great communication of many different forms. You should be an active listener when discussing problems with your customers, but you should be assertive when explaining to your sales manager why a particular feature can’t be promised for Q4. Thoroughly understanding your countless audiences is a great basis for having real conversations with them. But combined with a strong sense of confidence, a noble product manager will go far in getting things done.

Earthly humility

Reading this post is a good sign that you’re a good product manager (as long as you’re looking to become a superhero, not just check off the list). A product management god can’t have a God complex. Always trying to learn and improve and never assuming your opinions are more valuable than others’ is hugely important to a grounded product process. A good product manager should assume that the answers lie outside of their own brains and be open to criticism of their ideas. Much like Superman and Batman keep their true identities in the shadows, a product manager hero doesn’t need the glory of being an idea’s brainchild.

Brewed in a science lab?

A product manager doesn’t have to be an engineer. In companies across many different industries product managers are coming forward from many different backgrounds, from customer support to coding. But for anyone managing even mildly technical products a strong understanding of those technologies is a must. And for anyone managing any kind of product at all, a sensibility for a scientific approach to experimentation is equally important. From A/B tests, to impact and effort measures, to simply a record of how many times a feature has been requested, product managers should be sufficiently equipped to make informed decisions. 

We already revealed our alter-egos – Prod Man and Epic Girl – for the product management superheros we try to be every day, at last year’s WebSummit. Tell us yours in the comments below!

Prod Man and Epic Girl

What makes a product management superhero? Click To Tweet

If you’d like to read more best practice, read our 7 pillars of good product management

And if you’d like to see how ProdPad might help you to bring out your inner superstar, sign up for a 14 day free trial here

Janna Bastow is co-founder of ProdPad, software that helps product managers plan and deliver better products. Janna also organizes ProductTank events around the world, including Mind The Product, a global community of product managers. She likes to inspire great product conversations by asking: “What problem are you trying to solve?”

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