Lessons of a Software Engineer turned Product Manager


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Everyday my Medium and Twitter feed is filled with that one article on “ … Product Manager .. should/must…is/isn’t..”. Frankly, even though I know what to expect from such posts, I can’t deny these articles have been the second best source of learning after work. To that end, I decided to share my learnings of moving from development to Product Management with the community. Developers/Engineers who either plan to or have moved to a Product Manager role might find these handy:

Stop thinking about the implementation: an engineer’s mind is hard wired to think about the implementation, setting up architecture, figuring out technical roadblocks. For the love of your product, Stop doing it. It is not your job anymore, and there are people who know much more than you, and they should own the headache of “how to do it”. The problem with implementation mindset is more often than not you will end up limiting your creative side. As a PM you become another rider in the car, but unlike the driver/developer you are not supposed to worry about pressing the brakes. It is alright to know how things work under the hood, but keep calm!

Start talking to your Sales colleagues: Engineers have a thing for sales folks — they think of them as flashy dudes who speak well and look pleasing. Engineers, at times, overlook the hard effort that sales people put in selling the product. This builds a tall wall between these two functions, and in most Internet organisations the two functions live in different planes. This is not that bad though, but as a Product Manager you must start engaging with your Sales teams as early as possible. If you make changes to critical feature or play with pricing, you better be the first person to communicate this with Sales folks. If there is a genuine feedback that you want, look ahead of Play Store/iTunes reviews and speak to your go to sales buddy.

Get rid of the “I will kill all the bugs” mindset: This is one habit that is difficult to diagnose and harder to treat — the mindset of “fear of failure”. As a developer you are afraid of failure, you hate it when you find a new bug in your code. There is a good chance you might just carry this nature into your PM gig. A smart PM must not be afraid of playing devil’s advocate with his/her own product. To build successful products, open up more to failures.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.