The Work of Product Management

03.10.2017 |

Episode #1 of the course Becoming a more strategic product manager by Todd Birzer


Welcome to the course!

Our goal is to make you a more strategic product manager—helping you step away from the highly tactical and into the elements of your job that have long-range impact on your company and its product portfolio.


Course Approach

The outline of this course is straightforward. We need to lay the groundwork first by looking at the full work of product management and discussing why so many product managers get pulled into tactical day-to-day work, often neglecting the strategic. We’ll do this in the first two lessons.

In the third lesson, we’ll look at what to say “no” to, creating space for you to spend more time on the strategic elements of your job.

In Lessons 4 through 9, we’ll look at what to say “yes” to: the areas of your job that are often underinvested but have large impact on your organization. These include understanding and analyzing customer needs, creating a strategy for your product group, and guiding new product development using a “discovery and delivery” model.

We’ll wrap the course up in Lesson 10, pulling together product management best practices on how to make your job more strategic and central to your company’s future. With the conclusion of this course, it’s my hope that you can apply all these ideas and become a much more strategic and impactful product manager.


Our Work as Product Managers

Let’s start by looking at the full work of product management.

If you are a product manager today, I don’t need to tell you this, but product management covers a lot of space, and our companies have high expectations of us. The graphic below outlines the work of product management, broken into four interconnected parts.

Market intelligence: A strong understanding of market dynamics, customer needs, and competitive trends is a foundational element of product management. All the other work of product management depends on both an analytical and intuitive understanding of markets, customers, and competition.

Strategy: As product managers, we manage a product or group of products, and we need a well-honed strategy to guide our decisions around long-term priorities, positioning, and finding areas of growth.

New product development: A key aspect of our product management work is guiding and shaping our future product portfolio. We work with engineers and other members of our extended teams to create products with high customer value and competitive advantage.

Lifecycle management: For our products in the market today, we have many things to do, including pricing, positioning, determining sales channels, supporting our sales teams, working through product issues, finding growth opportunities, and (at some point) obsoleting our products. This area of product management is also called product marketing, and it may or may not be part of your job.

To put this into one sentence: As product managers, we manage the full lifecycle of products and services to create exceptional customer value, generate long-term competitive advantage, and deliver year-after-year profitability.

But to do all of this, we need to be more strategic. Tomorrow, we’ll look at why—despite our best intentions—we get pulled into the tactical and away from the strategic.

Talk to you then.

Todd Birzer


Recommended book

Strategize: Product Strategy and Product Roadmap Practices for the Digital Age by Roman Pichler


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