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Inspired

How To Create Products Customers Love

By Marty Cagan
  • Read in 15 minutes
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  • Contains 10 key ideas
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Inspired by Marty Cagan
Synopsis

Inspired describes the best practices of creating successful software products and explains the most common pitfalls and how to avoid them. The lessons are applicable in a range of product environments, from fledgling start-ups to large corporations.

Key idea 1 of 10

Great product managers are intelligent, focused and “bilingual” in technology and business.

Nine out of ten product releases are failures: they fail to meet their objectives. Mostly this is because the product manager’s role has been poorly defined or the person is incapable of filling that role. Hence, many CEOs wonder what characteristics to look for when hiring product managers.

In fact, a wide array of attributes and skills is needed. Essentially, product managers solve customers’ problems, and this requires them to understand their customers and empathize with their problems as well as be intelligent and insightful enough to come up with solutions.

Product managers must also be engaging and versatile communicators. They must interact with lots of different stakeholder groups from engineers to executives, and hence need to be “bilingual” in the sense that they understand both the technology and business sides of the product.

Finally, product managers bear full responsibility for delivering products as promised. They face long hours at work and a constant overload of tasks, so they need to have a strong work ethic and good time-management skills. Above all else, they must know how to prioritize. Their mantra is: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

So where can you find such people?

A great and obvious source is within your own company, where it is easier to find and assess candidates just by asking around. Look everywhere: Great future product managers can be waiting in virtually any department, from engineering to customer service to marketing. Typically, they will have already expressed some interest in playing a stronger role in the product. Once you find them, train and mentor them to fill the role successfully.

Great product managers are intelligent, focused and “bilingual” in technology and business.

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