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 Senior Product Manager
The skills and abilities of a product manager will be developed according to one’s individual strengths. The aim is to take responsibility for a larger or more complex product and to be able to act autonomously. This involves building up the following skills:
Deepen professional expertise
- Is confident in the subject matter and therefore rarely surprised by stakeholders with relevant knowledge for product decisions. Discovers and follows up on opportunities and risks. Enjoys the trust of most stakeholders.
- Supports the development and communication of the vision, goals and strategies. Planned initiatives can be related to these or explained tactically at any time.
- Valid business models and strategies can be developed for the own area of responsibility. Focus and knowledge prevent the sidetracking of unessential opportunities.
- At the intersections with other departments, the expertise is so proficient that cooperation can be affected positively and product management is heard.
Enhance instruments for problem assessment
- Assumptions and hypotheses are validated or falsified very efficiently and reflected back to stakeholders with confidence.
- The clarification of requirements takes place quickly and with routine. The necessary information is obtained efficiently.
- Decisions are made quickly, as data-driven as possible and with few mistakes.
Expand problem-solving methodologies
- A wide range of (creative) methods for determining and validating solutions is used efficiently and tailored to the needs.
- Complex topics such as scaling, internationalization, or product renewal get mastered.
- The consequences of technological and UX decisions are very well understood and discussed with those responsible on equal terms. Goals for scaling, availability, maintainability, accessibility, learnability or security of the product are strategically defined or adapted.
Intensifying collaborative work and processes in product development
- The process knowledge is so high that sound proposals for the use of new tools or process improvements can be made.
- In addition to the responsibility within one’s own team, efforts are made to optimize the entire supply chain towards the targeted results, resolving bottlenecks and identifying opportunities.
- The roadmap is planned in a sensible way in order to avoid double efforts or to leverage synergies. Topics are therefore tactically moved up or downstream.
- Moderate risks are taken under own responsibility. Own mistakes or problems are communicated openly.
Developing methods for effective collaboration with stakeholders
- Is accepted in the team as a technical leader. Is able to address difficult team members, give them qualitative feedback and escalate the situation if the response is insufficient. Can guide inexperienced team members or act as a mentor.
- Provides valuable feedback to leadership roles on the root causes of current challenges and how these could be resolved.
- Communicates confidently with senior management. Negotiation techniques and conflict resolution methods are used firmly.
Develop project and release management skills.
- Planning procedures and risk management methods are routinely applied. Planning errors rarely happen.
- More complex or international rollouts are prepared efficiently.
In this phase, the individual interests and strengths of the employees are built upon. Weaknesses are overcompensated or solved differently in the team. Many product managers usually remain in this phase for many years. Whether and when the next career step takes place varies greatly according to the individual.
Useful literature for this role
For the professionalization of senior product management, specific subject literature comes into question in addition to general product management books. A huge selection can be used according to individual needs. Some examples:
- Books focusing on results, e.g. “Radical Focus” by Christina Wodtke and “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr.
- “Running Lean” by Ash Maruya or “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey A. Moore for a successful product rollout.
- “Drive” by Daniel H. Pink or “Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown on the topics of motivation and leadership.
- Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug on the subject of UX.