Skipping Product Manager job descriptions: Use Principles instead!

As a Product Manager, your role is inherently cross-functional and requires collaboration with many other functions: you will have to develop and propose strategy, plan and align product roadmaps, guide product development and ensure that launches and subsequent marketing efforts lead to product success in terms of sales. Clearly, defining the role and what to expect of Product Managers has a value, both for Product Managers themselves and their managers, as well as for all those theProduct Managers interfaces with.
Defining that as a “classical” Job Description is certainly doable: you try to list all the tasks the Product Manager will be involved in, perhaps after first having described all the processes and then mapped PM items using the RACI model (for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed). In organizations with fully detailed processes, that would be a very long list, and the essence of the role would be difficult to really grasp.

Conversely, in organizations where “process” is an almost forbidden word (say, in some start-ups), even hinting at formal job descriptions might be seen as creating obstacles to “getting stuff done” rather than trying to help ensure that they get done well and efficiently, with less risk of things falling between chairs.

So – how can you resolve this? One way would be to instead agree on a set of guiding principles for the role and how collaboration is expected to work. They would capture the attitudes and approaches to expect of a product manager. Here are some examples:

  • “The Product Manager is responsible for guiding the product to success over the life cycle”
  • “The Product Manager always has a concise and complete overview of the status of her product”
  • “The Product Manager and the product owner form a team driving product development”
  • “Building and sharing domain knowledge is a key activity of the Product Manager”
  • “The Product Manager aligns strategies and actions with stakeholders in the company”
  • “Always focus on delivering value with the product”

What do you think – is this a more efficient way of defining and discussing the role of Product Managers? If so – what principles would you add to the list?
Leave your comment below!

And if you still need to write a job description (maybe HR says you have to!), you can simplify that work by downloading our template based on principles!


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About Henrik Johnssson

As a Senior Catalyst, I help improving the efficiency of marketing and product management organizations through education programs, customer-focused processes and decision support tools, always with the customer in focus.

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