Three Product Manager role myths... busted.

By
Maria Nery Mejia, Product Manager in Medellín, Colombia
Date:
30 March 2022
Photograph:

Like everyone in product management, I have my own unique path. As a recent graduate,  I started out as a Product Marketing Manager which provided my first opportunity to work alongside product leaders. That's when I decided I wanted to become one as well.

That was four years ago and, since then, I’ve been part of many different product teams. And it's been an amazing journey! I've got to grow and learn from all the good, the bad, and the ugly experiences, but all of this has shaped me into becoming the Product Manager I am today.

When I started out, I had a number of expectations and beliefs about the product role. I want to highlight some of these common myths here – and share why they're not what being a Product Manager truly entails.

MYTH 1: YOU ONLY LAUNCH NEW PRODUCTS

There’s a misconception that product management always involves building a product from scratch, but this is rarely the case. There are different stages of the product management lifecycle: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Each one of these stages has its own spark and requires a different approach from a product perspective.

If you're lucky enough to be part of all of them, you'll gain a more holistic view of product management and a better understanding of how to make decisions regarding the stage you are in (and the one you are moving towards).

At Somo, we have a handful of clients with different products and needs, and I've been lucky enough to be part of two different product stages so far:

  1. Introduction stage. Here, you learn to understand and balance the market and the business needs in order to launch a product that will bring real value. You are laser-focused on delivering that value and getting more insights. But the most important part is having a clear hypothesis and being able to pivot as fast as possible to get that product value and innovation out there.

  2. Growth Stage. Your product is out there and your primary focus is to elevate it, understand what is working and what could be improved. Keep talking to your clients and customers, and keep an eye on what's happening with your competitors.
     

MYTH 2: YOU ARE THE ONLY DECISION-MAKER

It's commonly believed that the Product Manager is the one with the power to take all the shots. It's not power, it's the responsibility of becoming the bridge and bringing together the teams that are collaborating within the digital product landscape (technical, business, design, marketing, sales).

Decisions shouldn’t be made based on a Product Manager’s subjective view, but based on a collaborative discussion that leverages data and insights to ensure an objective decision is made that helps the business achieve its KPIs, objectives, and goals. When making your decision, you need to consider the business needs, resolutions from the design team, tech capabilities, and last but not least, your customer needs and pain points.

Teamwork. This is the key to good decision-making. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of product teams where we collaborate with the business, technology, data, and design teams. We create hypotheses based on the product strategy and vision and then decide on whether to move forward or not based on the information we've gathered. But, in the past, I've also had to work closely with the business team, where decisions are solely made because of an idea or expectation, in which case, I had to work on setting the objectives and making decisions around them.

You don't always get the “expected scenario” and here is the tricky thing about being a Product Manager – you need to keep everyone accountable for the product strategy. Only this will help you ensure you make decisions that are true to what you're building.
 

MYTH 3: YOU GET JUST ONE SHOT TO GET IT RIGHT

Being a Product Manager is not about creating the perfect product. It's about creating a “ready to market” product as soon as possible, so you can test it with your users and start pivoting from there to create real value.

At Somo, we understand that great products don't come immediately, it's a consistent Build-Measure-Learn loop. The main reason for pushing out the MVP first is to get feedback as soon as possible, understand where the product fails or succeeds and iterate based on that, instead of going live with the uncertainty of a full-on product.

In order to be successful at this, agility needs to be part of the company culture, and you need the right tools to measure (data), learn (hypotheses), and re-build (product). What's key to remember is that you'll not always get good news following these experiments. But success is not what helps you grow, it's what you do with the data and learnings moving forward.


There is a lot of myths and expectations out there about the Product Manager role. Every company and project differs but, at the end of the day, the important thing is to bring value into what you are building. And if you're in the right place and with the right people; being a Product Manager is an exciting journey that's all about growth and constant learning.