As Product Manager I often find myself being held between 2 opposite powers that each one is pulling me to a different direction. There I am, in the middle, holding both ends with my hands, trying to hold still and not being pulled by one of them.
Seems like a difficult place to be and an exhausting task to perform. Should it be that way? Is it good? Am I doing the right thing?
Let me give you few examples. As PM I should be:
Both Visionary and Execution Oriented - Look ahead, build a roadmap, plan the 'go-to-market' strategy and get to know technology trends but on the same time, focus on the 'here and now', on this quarter's detailed PRDs/User Stories, or design the business logic for a very specific feature.
Inbound and Outbound - Work with customers and partners and "speak their language" to understand their needs and their prioritization, but on the same time work with R&D and "speak their completely different (!!) language" to get the requirements executed.
Focus on Revenue and implement through Technology - My general goal is to generate more revenue. I do that by creating more value to the customers or reducing my own costs. It is all achieved eventually by good technological design of products and services.
So my answer in short is YES. That's exactly the place of the PM to be! In the middle.
The PM is like a bridge between these two ends, between these two focus areas. Being a solid and stable bridge between them, creates the road to Product Success.
It's hard, occasionally even impossible. I sometimes find myself pulled into one side but I always force myself to get back to the center.
My place is on that bridge or even being that bridge for my Product
Being pulled by both gives me the unique perspective and capabilities that no one else in the organization has, since most of them usually stand on one end.
A system architect can do a fine design work for a feature? Maybe so, but the PM also knows the market, sets the vision and the road to get there. That's the secret sauce of business logic that he or she adds to the design.
A sales rep can do a fine prioritization work of customers' needs, considering buyers thought process and immediate revenue generators? Probably, but the PM also knows the product's architecture, its limitations and the roadmap ahead which gives him or her the unique view to set better priorities.
Even though it's hard, occasionally even impossible, the PM's comfort zone is right there, in the middle, the bridge.
The beautiful George Washington Bridge