I’ve started an online Product Management class because, I dunno, I like learning new, non-coding things related to my job. I’ll be posting all my notes here.

A PM effectively solves user problems while meeting business needs.

(Product manager is not the mini-CEO of the user. We are responsible for the success or failure of the product.)

A PM knows that there are questions that need answering before development starts.

Framework for becoming certain:

  • What we know we know - Fact Check
  • What we know we don’t know - Questions
  • What we don’t know we know - Intution
  • What we don’t know we don’t know - Exploration


It’s the PM’s job to learn when to use their tools (e.g. personas), not just master them.

A PM sees the product lifecycle in three phases:

  • Creation - Starting from an idea, find the market, see if it solves a problem, and create a MVP. The goal is to get to Product-Market Fit
  • Improvement - Find a goal or metric, then optimize and iterate until you hit that goal.
  • Maintenance - Alternate between smooth sailing and bug fixes. If your product starts declining, return to Improvement.

What is a product? It’s something that delivers business value by itself. It could be a component of a larger product.

History Lesson

  • Product management was born in 1931, at Proctor and Gamble, when Neil McElroy wrote a memo to create a Brand Man marketing role to be responsible for a product instead of a function.
  • Hewlett and Packard implemented McElroy’s idea, and divided their whole company by products.
  • Microsoft created Program Manager to handle developing Excel, because there was a missing link between marketing MBAs and developers.
  • Scrum created the Product Owner role to help developers, which is similar, but lacks the strategic work a PM does.

Agile & Scrum

(I’m familiar with Agile, skipping a lot of basic notes.)

Scrum is a good process for how to build, not what to build.

Most of the Agile Manifesto signatories were internal consultants, building tools for their own companies. The processes they came up with reflects that.

One of the weirder issues is the backlog, where there’s no process for where items on the backlog come from. In reality, it’s mostly filled with stories from other people in the company, not from external customers. Agile and Scrum is a theory and religion for building products, but doesn’t have much to say about discovering what product to build.

Product Owner is a role, Product Manager is a job.