This article was originally published in CIO.
It’s said that every company is now, at least partly, a software company, which is undoubtedly changing the IT landscape. As a result, Product Managers (PMs) have more opportunities and are more important than ever.
Yet it’s often wondered, by everyone from the Chief Information Officer to the Help-Desk Technicians: What exactly does a PM do?
The traditional answer is that a Product Manager is the Chief Executive of their product. Like all clichés, this one is both true and false. Let’s see if we can separate fact from fiction.
Why PMs Are Not CEOs
On the one hand, this comparison is specious. First, as a CEO, you oversee all employees; ultimately, everyone works for you (or the shareholders if your company is publicly traded).
By contrast, as a PM, very few people actually report to you (or are even in your dotted line on the org chart). Indeed, asking for it to be otherwise is a surefire way to burn bridges, isolate yourself, and get nothing done.
As a CEO, people (generally) follow you because you’re the big boss. Of course, it’s best to listen to your staff and explain your thinking, but at the end of the day, you set the rules. And if someone doesn’t follow them, you’re empowered to show them the door.