Based on the common hierarchies in product management, you can use the following simple blueprint for the development of product managers and adapt it to individual needs and the company environment.
If you want to go deeper into the topic as a leader and coach, consider using more advanced concepts such as The PM Growth Bubble by Afonso Franco or “Strong — A complete guide to developing great product managers” by Petra Wille.
The contents are only briefly listed here and are not explained further. You can use the book recommendations given below as examples to get a good impression of the depth of the respective topics.
Development plan for a Junior Product Manager
The goal is to take over responsibility for a/part of a product after completing this phase. Likewise, independent collaboration with a development team and other stakeholders can be mastered. Until then, newcomers accompany experienced colleagues or are closely guided and coached. In addition to the actual work, the focus is therefore partly on training. The following skills should be developed:
Build professional understanding
- Knowledge of the basic business models and specifics of the company.
- Necessary knowledge of customer groups.
- Knowledge of the specifics of the market and the main competitors.
- Understanding of the specifics of one’s own product (USP, SWOT, …) and the product strategy.
- Build up necessary knowledge at the interface to other disciplines — usually from the fields of technology, marketing, sales, controlling, legal, etc.).
Mastering instruments for determining problems
- Getting to know possible sources of information.
- Learn to work data-driven.
- Train to question all unvalidated assumptions.
- Learn to conduct customer interviews and other customer interaction tools.
- Master requirements clarification involving all relevant parties (clients, business, development, etc.).
- Develop requirements the right way (jobs-to-be-done or other methods).
Learning methods for problem solving
- Learning (creative, collaborative) techniques for finding solutions.
- Ways to efficiently develop prototypes.
- Know different variants for validating solution ideas.
Mastering the basics of collaborative work and processes in product development
- Mastering development methods and own role (in Scrum e.g. PSPO content).
- Get to know various levels of UX processes.
- Learn various techniques for making decisions.
- Giving and accepting constructive feedback.
Methods for effective collaboration with stakeholders
- Know different communication channels and forms.
- Organise efficient meetings.
- Learning the basics of dealing with conflict.
Project- and release-management tools
- Master basic planning procedures.
- Get to know risk management methods and apply them to planning (e.g. critical chain management).
- Learn communication management relevant to planning and releases.
In this phase, the individual interests, strengths and weaknesses of the different employees also develop or become apparent. Further career planning should take these into account.
Suitable literature for this role
The following books are a small selection of good introductory literature on product management:
- Books that give a good overview of modern product management, e.g. “Inspired” by Marty Cagen.
- Books on (agile) software development. For Scrum e.g. “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Learn And Master Scrum Agile Framework” by Hein Smith or “The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice For Your First year” by Mitch Lacey.
- Books on problem identification and problem solving, e.g. “Jobs to be Done” by Tony Ulwick or “Continuous Discovery Habits” by Teresa Torres.