PM : Product Manager or PolyMath?

Palak Varma
Palak Varma
PM : Product Manager or PolyMath?
The PM role has been oversimplified in its 3 circle Venn diagram depiction of UX/Tech/Business. Here's what it really is.

*All views are personal and largely based on my time working at early-stage startups.

While a PM's role has exploded very recently, I think very little has been said about it with complete honesty. Especially people aspiring to be a PM, know your reason and make sure its strong enough because this role will challenge you in a very unique way. There are a lot of frameworks and guidelines but there's no syntax to it.

Old Definition of PM

Expanded Definition of PM-ing to slightly get closer to the complexity of the role.

While most popularly people describe a PM as the mini-CEO, I would describe a PM's role as any one of the following based on the company's team size, funding, launch cycle and sprint stage : 

  • Janitor - cleaning up a mess
  • An IT Services agency Account Manager for business teams who want magical solutions for their tedious tasks
  • Therapist with an ulterior motive - for burnt out teammates when the code on UAT has 1 million errors with 2 days to go
  • Man Friday - anything anyone can't figure out, is dumped on our imaginary desk to be dealt with.
  • The Devil - saying no or suggesting improvements to a designer with logic is often not taken as well
  • Call centre rep - for the customer support team
  • Copywriter, social media creative director, hiring scout, P&L calculator, negotiator for discount on enterprise tools, sales pitch writer, deck creator, etc etc etc.

And when PMs make some time after this : 

  • Roadmap Managing and Planning
  • Requirements Gathering & Documentation
  • User Research and Analysis
  • Pre-Production Testing for something going live
  • App Reviews monitoring
  • Design Feedback
  • Kickoff calls & check-ins with Tech
  • Emails
  • Slack, Figma, Mixpanel, Branch, GA, Hotjar, Data dump on sheets, Freshdesk, Notion, Confluence, JIRA....
Amongst all of this, if we're lucky, we'll stumble upon that ONE user review that describes the impact the product has made on their lives and that makes EVERYTHING f*cking worth it.

Going to write more detailed posts about each aspect of product management. Stay tuned and work your ass off for that one user and more!