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The best way to screw a product is to NOT have a product manager at the helm.

Why businesses need Product Managers

It’s great to go searching for a new use for new tech – but that doesn’t often translate into success for an existing business.

“Product Managers strive for product-market fit so they're not cajoled by the forces of sexy tech or current fads.”

For those of us who grew up in product management, we know our businesses succeed when they understand what customers want – or need – and then use our skills and tech to develop products or services that fit the market. In short, find the market, understand what customers want and use a dedicated Product Manager (PM) to lead the team to meet the need. The result is products or services are developed that your customers actually want. They're developed more effectively, the value exchange is obvious so profits or business metrics, are reached more quickly.

It’s a simple proposition – but achieving these results involves research, strategy and planning, discovery and teamwork. And deep interaction. With customers, with marketing/sales, customer care, senior management and critically, designers and devs. It doesn’t happen in a day or a week and it’s impossible to do it effectively when there’s no single Product Owner or Manager.

The PM is the pivot point for all of this. We're the binding agent that brings the different parts of the business together to build and launch great product or service. We create and provide the environment for teams to intimately understand customers, identify problems and imagine solutions - to refine and refine again until product market fit is achieved.

But in many companies, Product Managers are absent, product divisions don't exist. Product management is done piecemeal: a bit in Marketing, a bit in Ops, a bit in Tech. Product is handled by everyone and no one at the same time.

But with the pressures in today's markets and the demand from customers for more, the truth is that, to be effective, the lead role for a product shouldn’t be filled by multiple people. This role is like the United Nations. PM's bring people and the organisation together, unified in pursuit of solving customer problems. They glue, they bind, they unite the business and they create the space where existing ‘silos’ can be deconstructed for the benefit of the customer and ultimately the business. They align the backlog to business outcomes.

A great PM ensures a market-driven approach, and won't be cajoled by the forces of sexy tech or current fads. They’re the authoritative “voice of the customer” making sure the organisation builds something customers want, and they improve time-to-everything: a well-defined product discovery and development process run by PMs improves both time-to-market and time-to-revenue.

So, what's happening in your organisation? I'd love love to hear your thoughts.

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