From launching successful consultancies to crafting academic studies, Jeff Gothelf is an expert in understanding the attributes of effective product management. More than ever, product managers are at the center of many different needs. As Jeff explains, product managers must be fluent in multiple “languages” in order to deliver value for their business and their customers.
The Languages of Product Management
Over the years, product management has become the nexus of many functions. Today, we are responsible for straddling business needs and customer needs. First, you have to understand the problem that needs to be solved for customers. From there, you need to figure out how to leverage your organization’s technology and platform to create the perfect solution.
In addition, product managers need to be fluent in many “product languages.” In other words, you have to speak in terms that customers and users can understand. Furthermore, you have to be competent in design language and user experience terminology. And of course, you need to speak the language of business language and understand technology. Plus, you have to be credible in how you connect with each of these audiences. Clearly, this is not an easy job!
In product management, the best way to balance all of these demands is to remain curious and humble. Ultimately, product managers need to have a vision for their product and where they want to innovate. However, they need to approach any decision with humility and commit to continuous learning. For example, there will be times in which certain assumptions are refuted by customer feedback. Great product managers are able to take this feedback and pivot in order to stay on target.
In summary, product management requires an aptitude for cross-functional understanding. In other words, today’s product manager needs to embrace being the nexus of varying business needs. More than ever, market conditions and customer preferences are changing rapidly. As a result, product managers need to focus on bringing everyone into the process to stay current with the times. In the end – the combination of curiosity, humility and collaboration enables product managers to be most effective.
About the speaker
Jeff Gothelf has worked for 20+ years as a designer, team leader, author and coach. In 2013, he published my first book, "Lean UX: applying lean principles to improve user experience (O’Reilly)." In 2016 he published the 2nd edition of Lean UX and a new business book called Sense & Respond. His work focuses on building and training evidence-based, customer-centered executive & product teams. These teams often utilize lean principles and agile software development.