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James Dillard: How to differentiate yourself as a generalist PM

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James Dillard: How to differentiate yourself as a generalist PM

  1. 1. How to standout as a generalist PM James Dillard @jamesdillard Photo by Paul Felberbauer on Unsplash
  2. 2. About me Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash
  3. 3. What we’ll cover today Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash Life as a generalist PM How to standout as a generalist PM Your questions
  4. 4. What does it mean to be a generalist PM? Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash All of the PM table stakes: ● User empathy ● Analytical ability ● Creativity ● Delivery / execution Without a specific industry or functional expertise Photo by Ussama Azam on Unsplash
  5. 5. What’s good about being a generalist PM? Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash Broad range of companies and problems open to you Less industry or technology risk Seeing a range of problems increases creativity Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash
  6. 6. What’s bad about being a generalist PM? Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash Certain roles are not available to you Opportunities don’t find you It’s difficult to stand out from the pack
  7. 7. Why does standing out matter? The next opportunity There’s lots of competition It’s nice to have choices Photo by David Rotimi on Unsplash
  8. 8. Selecting your projects Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash Are you working on the things that will deliver the most value for customers and the company? If not, why not?
  9. 9. How is your work impacting the product? Launches > ideas Numbers > anecdotes Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
  10. 10. How to talk about your impact Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash Impact: What is different because you were there? Scope: What are you responsible for?
  11. 11. Seek out complimentary experiences “I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.” - A.J. Liebling Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash
  12. 12. Beyond your “job” Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash Demonstrate your ability outside your core role How you treat people matters
  13. 13. Questions? Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash
  14. 14. Thank you! Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash @jamesdillard /in/jamesdillard

Editor's Notes

  • What is a generalist PM
    What’s good about this and bad about this
    Why standing out matters
    How to stand out
    Selecting projects
    Delivering on those projects
    Developing specializations that cut across industries and problem spaces
    How to talk about your work
    Extending your brand beyond your company
    Questions
  • Make sure to note that this decision isn’t always made intentionally

    You can find yourself take 2 roles in a row in the same industry and get labelled as a specialist, even if that isn’t what you want
  • You can work anywhere, can pick up new product types. It’s exciting to have lots of options

    You’re not tied to any specific industry.
    Risk of getting trapped in something you no longer enjoy
    Risk of that industry seeing a downturn or decline in relevance
    Risk for companies that only hire specialists if the field of competition changes (e.g., servers vs. cloud computing)

    Going deep in different areas increases problem solving
    Range by David Epstein
    The world is full of really different problems
    By seeing the widest range or problems, you increase your ability to be a problem solver
  • Certain roles are unavailable to you
    I can’t be a PM for Google Silicon - I’m not qualified, I don’t have enough industry expertise
    Opportunities don’t find you in the same way
    FinTech companies know they need FinTech PMs; how does a FinTech company know they need an AgTech PM
    It can be hard to stand out from the pack
    The pool of competition is much wider
    The ability of employers to assess your experience is lower
  • The next opportunity
    It’s unlikely that this is the last company you’re ever going to work for
    It’s even less likely that this is the less role that you’ll ever have
    You’re all here at an online conference, I don’t have to tell you this

    There’s lots of competition
    With the rise of remote work, increasingly anyone in the world could do what you’re doing
    How do you command a wage premium?
    It’s nice to have choices
    Being a stand out PM opens doors, whether it’s at your company or other companies
  • As a PM, your number 1 job is to make sure that your team is focused on the highest priority for the company / end users
    What can your company / your team deliver that no one else can
    Use common sense here
    Don’t go and try and take over someone else’s project
    If you think this isn’t true, ask your manager or the CEO
    If you think you’re not working on the things that are the highest priority, why not?
    Is there someone that needs to be convinced?
    Has the right data not been collected?
    What blocker is standing in the way
  • Launches > ideas
    You have to ship
    The role is about shipping
    Metrics impact > anecdotes
    Design your work from the beginning
    Write the internal launch email in your head before you start work
    Be focused on the metrics your leadership team cares about
  • It’s all about how you frame it up
    What is different because you were there
    Phrase it in a way that your parents can understand it, 3 sentences or less
    What was your scope of responsibility
    What part of the business, broadly defined
    What people are looking to you to define product direction
  • Overtime, you want the different things you do to complement each other
    Think about the things at your company or among your PM team that are
    Uncommon
    Difficult
    Growing quickly, but from a small base
    Inconvenient or frustrating
    Never enough of
    Figure out how these things work
  • Demonstrate your ability outside your core role
    Your ability to lead a team ← are you mentoring others?
    Giving back to the PM community
    Many companies have a citizenship aspect to performance reviews — are you using this to invest in your expertise
    Example of building the trusted tester organization

    How you treat people matters
    Most of the standout PMs I’ve known are incredibly humble and willing to help
  • Overtime, you want the different things you do to complement each other
    Think about the things at your company or among your PM team that are
    Uncommon
    Difficult
    Growing quickly, but from a small base
    Inconvenient or frustrating
    Never enough of
    Figure out how these things work
  • Demonstrate your ability outside your core role
    Your ability to lead a team ← are you mentoring others?
    Giving back to the PM community
    Many companies have a citizenship aspect to performance reviews — are you using this to invest in your expertise
    Example of building the trusted tester organization

    How you treat people matters
    Most of the standout PMs I’ve known are incredibly humble and willing to help

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