i need a reality check

Product Manager Manifesto? Oath? Something Else? Is It Worth Arguing Over?

Posted in Product by josh duncan on January 20, 2009


The 280Group blog has recently posted a Product Manager Manifesto.  The stated purpose was to help explain product marketing to people outside the realm and to express why the job can be a lot of fun:

In the course of managing my products there are thousands of small decisions that must be made and tasks that must be accomplished. The sum of these can add up to a phenomenal product. I choose to own the responsibility for making this happen.

I am an expert in all areas regarding my products: customers, the market, technology, competition, channels,
press, analysts, trends and anything else that must be taken into account in order to win.

Tom Grant on the Forrest Product Blog, not a fan:

In fact, some of the elements of the “Manifesto” border on self-loathing. I haven’t met a product manager who didn’t want to be “an expert in all areas regarding my products.” The problem, of course, is finding the time, when you’re already racing to answer the latest urgent request from Sales or Support, or you’re spending way too much time in meetings.

Tom is right that this really isn’t a call to action so, maybe it shouldn’t have been called a manifesto (note to self, don’t write a manifesto any time soon, it really seems to piss some people off).

However, I do think there has been some really great discussions over this article and lots of great comments (also see Pragmatic Marketing ).  Isn’t this type of discussion worth while to help us become better product managers?

At the end of the day, do you really think there are that many CEOs out there reading Product Manager blogs saying to themselves,

“Man, these PMs are clueless.  I’m just going to sit back and continue to make crappy products in the meantime.”


3 Responses

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  1. April said, on January 21, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Great Post.
    I have been reading all these posts around “Manifesto’s” and I have to admit I don’t fully understand the point of having one. I agree that there is confusion out there about what product managers do and how they do it but unlike the Agile Manifesto I don’t see there being a real need for a call to action to overhaul what people are doing. I don’t think the Pragmatic Marketing framework is perfect (particularly around the pure product marketing pieces) but I don’t think it is entirely off base either. So why the need for a Manifesto? Are we suggestion a need for a restart in terms of how we define and do product management? If so, I would love to hear about it but I’m not seeing that yet in any of the Manifesto’s I’ve seen up until now.

  2. josh said, on January 21, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I honestly think that if the post would have been called best practices, there would have been no issues raised. There is just something about the term manifesto that strikes up the revolutionists in people.

  3. saeed said, on January 25, 2009 at 8:54 am


    There a re a number of problems in technology product management that affect both those in product management and the companies they work in. The Pragmatic framework along with any other vendor driven frameworks or methodologies are good for practitioners in helping them better understand what is a relatively young profession, but they focus almost exclusively on the practioners — the target market of their training classes.

    It’s like talking about software development and only focusing on the specifics of coding. Yes, people need to learn to write code, but that is a far cry from what is needed to define, organize and run an efficient software development organization in a company.

    I’m collecting data on this issue right now — problems in the PM profession — and over the next couple of weeks will share the results and some recommendations on how to address those problems.

    In case you or your readers want to participate in the survey mentioned above, the URL is http://www.tinyurl.com/pmprobs


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