Product Management “Via Negativa”

Love this Twitter/X post from Pawel Huryn. It’s an excellent summary of a “via negativa” exploration of the role of Product Management as part of the whole Product Development ecosystem:

In case Twitter/X falls over, or somehow loses that, here’s a copy, (emphasis mine):

Product Management is not about:

  • Asking customers about the requirements
  • Writing detailed specifications
  • Creating prototypes and wireframes
  • Assigning tasks to developers
  • Verifying and accepting the work of others
  • Obsessing over velocity, deadlines, and roadmaps
  • Mastering Scrum to perfection
  • Acting like the CEO of the product

Anyone can do that. It is about:

  • Understanding customer’s problems, needs, and desires
  • Understanding the market and the business in depth
  • Collaborating closely with engineers and designers
  • Identifying opportunities, ideating solutions, and tackling the risks together
  • Marrying customer goals and business goals
  • Influencing others to work toward the common goal
  • Being humble (it’s ok not to be the smartest person in the room)
  • Experimenting to validate assumptions
  • Leading without authority
  • Turning chaos into clarity

Start with these questions:

  • Why are we building this thing?
  • Why are we building it now?
  • For whom are we building it?
  • What’s the unique value of our product?
  • How is it aligned with the company’s vision?
  • How is it aligned with the business strategy?
  • What does success look like? How can we measure it?
  • What are the customer needs/jobs (functional, emotional, social)?
  • How will it affect our customers and users?
  • How will it create value for the business?
  • Can we buy it instead of building it?
  • How can we make sure that our customers would love it?
  • Will our customers know how to use it?
  • Can our business support it (e.g., legal, finances)?
  • Is it feasible? Can we build it?
  • How can we bring it to the market? Do we have the required channels?
  • Should we do it at all? Are there any ethical considerations?
  • What are the riskiest assumptions? How can we validate them?
  • What does the data tell us?
  • How can we get maximum validating learning with minimum effort?

Be curious. Learn and experiment. Question solutions and push back on things handled down.

Remember that product management is about creating a “product customers love, yet also works for our business” (Marty Cagan, Inspired), not about pleasing stakeholders.

Thanks for sharing, Pawel.