Good PM Orgs / Bad PM Orgs

Good PM Orgs / Bad PM Orgs

I can’t start any type of Good PM list without tipping my hat towards Ben Horowitz’s original post: Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager. This was the “original gangster” post that started it all and focused on how the individual PM contributor should make an impact. Since then, I’ve come across a list made by Marty Cagan: Good Product Team/Bad Product Team that takes the principles further by adapting it to teams.

I’ve been lucky enough to work on product teams at both startups and larger companies. Each environment needed a separate set of PM skills within the org to match the company’s product maturity. Below are some of my observations from Good vs. Bad PM orgs that I’ve either worked on or observed.

  • Good PM orgs operate from both top down and bottom up. They synthesize big picture vision to align with top down priorities while openly sharing and applying learnings from the bottom up. Bad PM orgs operate solely top down or bottom.
  • Good PM orgs involve the user(s) in every step of product development. Bad PM orgs say they are user centered so they can check the box without actually doing anything.
  • Good PM orgs make the proper tradeoffs between embracing failure and protecting their main streams of cash flow. Bad PM orgs hide failures and block any innovation that might disrupt their most popular products.
  • Good PM orgs embrace a culture of radical transparency. They confront conflict head-on, using facts and data to agree or disagree and commit. Bad PM orgs hide failures and avoid confrontation, so they can avoid short term awkwardness.

I consider this a living list to be constantly updated. What Good/Bad principles have you seen within your product org?

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