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Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts by Thomas Eisenmann

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Chapter 38. The Role of Product Managers

Ben Yoskovitz

Recently, I came across an interesting discussion on Branch about the role and future of product managers. I’m not a member there so I couldn’t respond directly, but I figured I’d put my thoughts here instead.

One of the comments posted after I read the post is very similar to what I was going to say. Satya Patel, who recently left Twitter in a product-related role, wrote:

Product management isn’t a role or a function, it’s a set of skills. Those skills help remove obstacles and grease the wheels so that the functional experts can do their jobs best. Product management also balances the needs of users, the business and the team and makes the difficult tradeoffs needed to keep pressing ahead. In that way, Product Managers are very similar to CEOs. Very few would argue that a company doesn’t need a CEO. Product managers are simply CEOs of their products. No organization should be without someone who has “product management skills” and works to make everyone else’s lives easier.

Nabeel Hyatt, venture partner at Spark, then wrote:

An excellent product manager is keeping in mind the long term vision while driving short term results, has the customer intuition to get there, and has the authority/integrity to lead the team along the way—very much a mini CEO when it’s done right.

“Mini CEO” is the phrase I’d use for a product manager. Actually, I’d say a product manager is a CEO without all the “other crap” you have to deal with in running ...

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