Best Product Management Model

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What is the Best Product Management Model

Posted by Marty Cagan on January 4, 2008

One question I get quite frequently is “Google is making boatloads of money, so how can we do product management like Google?” Or another common variant is “Apple creates fantastic products. How can we do product management like Apple?” You can understand why some might look at Google or Apple and think they should just clone what they do. But odds are they’d be making a big mistake. Don’t get me wrong. While Apple and Google have very different models of product management, on the whole I’d argue they’re right for their companies (at least as long as their founders continue to stay so deeply involved in product). But I have yet to recommend Google’s model of product management to other companies. And in the case of Apple, to implement their model you’d have to clone Steve Jobs. The product management model for Google is very different, and I argue it needs to be, and the same is true for Apple. While there are a set of skills that are important for all tech product managers – skills like assessing opportunities, defining product principles, product discovery, and prototype testing – there’s more to succeeding in an organization than just the skills involved. It’s much like a sports team. Yes the skills are critically important. If you can’t catch a ball, you won't go far as a receiver. However, winning requires more than skills. It requires having a game plan or strategy for winning, working well as a member of a team, adapting to your opponent, the playing field, and the conditions. Similarly, building a successful product management organization requires not only developing the skills of your product managers, but making sure they know how to work effectively with the rest of the product team, as a key part of your company’s overall product development organization and product development process, and knowing how to create the type of products your company requires, and...
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