The Product Manifesto

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There’s a team of product managers working on a “Product Manifesto” meant to frame the tenets of product management and innovation. The idea is that this will help people of all experience levels in becoming better product managers. It’s also meant to help with product managers and working with stake holders who often don’t understand how to work with a product team. It includes vision setting, strategy and problem understanding.

One of the people working on it is Victoria Ku who’s a Product Manager at AirBnb. She was recently on the Product Podcast to share some insights and experience and there were 4 really interesting points she made.

  1. Product Management is inherently ambiguous – The role acts as a generalist and there’s no one, clear, way to do everything. But this allows for flexibility and a fluid approach. Maintaining this fluidness even as you scale is important. It allows creativity and a broader arrange of ways to contribute. It’s okay to have some structure, pillars and principles but guard against making dogma and process more important than innovating.

2. Problem > Solution – Many others, myself included, have written about this concept. In Victoria’s words, problem focus and avoiding the rush to solutioning is the “root of innovative success.” Stay married to the problem but open minded on the solution.

3. Scaling Agile is Hard – Agile struggles and sometimes falls apart in large, cross-functional organizations. Interoperability from teams becomes challenging. It leads to hybrid models and lacks consistency.

4. The generalist nature of the role makes it prone to burnout. Find the areas you can be more flexible and avoid taking on too many roles. Stress means success is failed way of thinking. It’s easier to fall into a hole than it is to climb out of it. There’s a great piece on building resilience by recharging here. In short, burnout suppresses creativity and the ability to innovate.

You can check out the whole interview here.

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