So I want to be a product manager

What is product management?

Product management is, by definition, the art of deciding what to build and when to build it. It is, quite frankly, the role of defining a product strategy and product experience. When you are a PM, you are, as the cliche goes, the “CEO of the product.”

The irony, of course, is that many product managers aren’t actually doing product management. I’ve met plenty of junior product managers who run around escalating bugs, talking to customers, and checking in on engineering. But some companies lack even the basics of a ‘product management framework’ like maintaining a product roadmap, writing customer requirements, competitive landscaping or doing usability studies. The reality is that the term product management can mean many things to many companies.

Product management at small vs large companies

Yes, there are a core set of PM skills across all companies, but the actual PM role can vary greatly across small and large companies. A PM at a small startup wears many hats, has an entrepreneurial mindset, and is constantly running experiments. They focus on the high level problem their startup has set out to solve. Changing anything and everything is fair game. A PM at a larger company, on the other hand, focuses on optimization, iteration, and detailed program management tasks across complex cross-functional teams. At a large company, the product itself may already be defined for the most part. The role of the product manager is to iron out the details, align the product with the rest of the company, and ship it. Think about the differences between small and large companies and which one is the best fit for you.

Are you more of an entrepreneur or an operator?