10 Product Manager Success Secrets
Dr. Jim Anderson / (@drjimanderson)
How Many Jobs Will YOU Have?
Q: What is the
difference between a job
and a career?
The Evolution Of Product Management
Go To College / Be Sure To Finish If You Do Go
• The reason that you get a college degree is to learn how to
think -- not to memorize facts.
• Do you really think that the following will be important in 10
– Now: Java [Then: Fortran, Pascal, COBOL]
– Microsoft / Sun / HP [DEC / Data General / SGI]
– The Internet? [FIDONET / ARPANET / Compuserve]
– “Portals”? [BBNs]
– 802.11 a/b/g? [Thick / Thin Coax, RS-232]
– Windows / Linux? [VMS / TSO / Novell]
– Apple? [DEC / TI / IBM]
– Structured Analysis? [OOD / etc.]
Don’t Be A Problem Finder -- Be A Problem Fixer
• You were hired to make problems go away.
• Secret To Success: anticipate problems – they belong to you.
• The higher up in an organization one goes, the less able people
are to create solutions to problems.
– They do really well with questions that require only yes/no
Always Sweat The Small Stuff
• The details can trip you up.
– Time Cards
– Expense Reports
• Depending on the size of the company, there are people whose
jobs are only to deal with the small stuff.
Take The Time To Communicate Clearly
• Everything that you learned in elementary school was correct:
– Spelling counts!
– For that matter, grammar also counts.
• Why should I take the time to read your email if it’s:
– Too long?
– Too boring?
– Too confusing?
Do Not Fall In Love With Your Company
• Your employer does not have the capacity to love you.
• Will the company be able to continue to operate if you leave
– You might think that it can’t.
– However it can.
• Can you and an ex-company “still be friends?”
Be Nice To Everyone (Including The Important People)
• Where do you think future CEO’s start out?
• Be nice to everyone -- you never know when
you will need their help.
Tell People About Your Work
• How well you communicate will determine how far your
• What Are The Three Most Important Tools In Product
– Microsoft Word
– Microsoft PowerPoint
– Tie: Microsoft Excel & Microsoft Outlook
• How Good Are You At Public Speaking?
– Try Toastmasters
Channel Surf -- Don’t Use Email For Everything
• Learn when to use what
method to contact people:
– Instant Messaging
• Emails live *forever*!
– Tyco / ENRON / various
Wall Street Firms
• Instant Messaging now
also lives forever.
Learn To Make Decisions w/o All The Facts
• The ability to estimate scope/size/time/cost quickly & correctly
– You need to be able to make decisions with incomplete
• 80%+ of Projects Fail Due In Part To Poor Estimating.
• Example: schedule, cost, staffing, risks.
You Have A Job - Now Start Learning!
• Domain knowledge is
the key to career
– A licensed stock trader
who leads an IT team at
– Pilots who lead the
teams that define flight
– Former field techs who
now test field tech
So Where Do I Go From Here?