Across a wide range of industries, companies have realized that product-based innovation is now the critical driver of business growth and are moving towards a product-centric business model.
While this could lead to a higher demand for product managers than ever before, the same can be said for the other end of the spectrum: there are now more and more aspiring product managers, either fresh from college, or seasoned professionals who are looking to switch to product.
To prepare for our upcoming roundtable discussion Product Management Trends and Challenges in 2022, we asked our guest speakers to each write blog posts about their perspectives on product management.
Our final piece is with Adam Thomas - a technologist and Lead Product Manager at SmartRecruiters.
Adam is a pro when it comes to strategy, team organization, and product management. But what really sets him apart is his talent for communication and his psychological insights.
Read on to learn Adam’s signature approach to product management.
I fell in love with product about 10 years ago and realized that I thrived in creating amidst chaos.
Beside being the Lead Product Manager at SmartRecruiters - a recruiting platform that high-performance businesses use to scout for their best hires - I am also a regular columnist for Built In, where tech professionals can learn about their industry and build connections.
Approaching One, where I’m the Managing Director, is also a dedicated project of mine to give support to the product community. We provide coaching and consulting services to teach founding teams how to hire the right product people, and workshops for teams that focus on operationalizing product strategy.
I have tried to leverage my experiences in product management and mix them with the cultural and behavioral psychology context to guide product managers towards making better decisions.
I cannot stress enough how useful behavioral psychology can be for PMs. While building and managing roadmaps are an irreplaceable part of being a product manager, it’s not everything. As a PM, having empathy, communicating effectively with your team and other stakeholders, avoiding cognitive biases can all help you get the insights necessary for your roadmaps and make better data-informed decisions.
This is a trend I’m currently seeing in the product world, and I expect it to continue in 2022. It’s exciting, but at the same time, worrying. You see people trying to get into product everywhere now. Sometimes this is fresh undergraduates trying to get an MBA and relevant qualifications for better chances to score a product job. At other times it’s professionals from product-adjacent fields or even completely unrelated spheres looking to switch to becoming a PM.
While it’s a good sign that the profile of PMs is being raised higher, it remains unclear if the new, aspiring PMs have gained a good understanding of what it takes to be in the position, or if the recruiters know what to look for in a talent addition to their product teams.
There are now naturally more available educational resources to learn from, but with that comes the struggle to filter what resources you should take your time to consume. My one tip to all the new PMs out there will be to find yourself a good, experienced mentor or coach to guide you through the product journey, to help you understand and analyse the needs, the data, the insights from different stakeholders involved with a product.
You should also need to identify for yourself what you need to learn from your mentor or coach: do you want to learn about creating solutions, working with data, or mastering the art of communication? Normally it should be the right mixture of all above and beyond, but it helps to work out your specific needs to find the right mentor.
The world, and especially the world of technology, is ever changing. FinTech, AI, cryptocurrency, you name it. The products we work on are constantly dealing with the tensions of changes from the market, from the customers, from all the stakeholders involved. Pivoting, while necessary to adapt to changes, can also bring doubts and many questions from all sides of the company. As a result, the time it takes to get to a shippable product or feature gets extended and extended.
After the investment - brain power, energy, resources - in a lengthy product discovery process, and even if the intended product will either be too late or no longer relevant in the market, most teams will just continue down the road and launch something out of the effect of sunk cost fallacy. This is why I came up with the Survival Metrics.
The Survival Metrics are meant to help product teams decide whether an initiative is worth being invested in more, changed, or stopped altogether. They create a clear picture of what can go wrong while the product is in motion, using resource allocation and company incentives before a project begins and again at regular intervals, giving permission to act quickly. This prevents product teams from suffering from sunk cost fallacy and blindingly pushing out products that no longer make sense.
Adam Thomas will be discussing these points further in airfocus’ upcoming roundtable, which takes place on Tuesday December 14th, 2021, at 3:00 PM (GMT).
Click here to register.