Users thinking of a solution that they’re about to send in to request.

It’s a very common advice when entering the workplace to “go to your boss with solutions, not problems.” The sentiment of this advice is good. You should spend time thinking through possible solutions in order to hone your problem solving skills. And giving your boss insight into how you’re thinking about a particular problem will help them support your growth while you solve this problem.

The place where this advice really doesn’t work? Product development.

As product managers, we are often surrounded by people who have internalized this “solutions, not problems” mentality. …

Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

Product managers are not only accustomed to going into the unknown, wading through lots of information, and dealing with ambiguity, we actively seek out those kinds of experiences. For me, there’s no better representation of that idea than customer interviews. We go into interviews with no expectation of what we’ll get out of them (specifically), but knowing that the value is high because we will learn something, and get one step closer to validating (or invalidating) our hypothesis. …

It’s my favorite dinner party game: hearing what my husband tells people I do as a product manager when he thinks I’m not listening. Top winners include “she’s the boss of the internet,” “she talks to engineers so other people don’t have to,” and “I don’t know, she’s a neeeerd.” (He’s mostly kidding.) When pushed a bit further, what usually comes out is a long list of things that he’s heard from me like “talking to customers,” “working with engineers,” or “being in a lot of meetings,” and that’s a more accurate, albeit abstracted, representation of the role. …

We’ve all seen this Venn diagram for product management, and yet, I’d argue it’s got it all wrong. Sure, product management encompasses a wide breadth of skills. Yes, product managers are expected to be literate or proficient in a number of areas in order to be successful in the role. But YOU are not the convergence of these areas outlined in the diagram (UX, Tech and Business), you’re the facilitator of them. So this diagram isn’t you, it’s your product squad; the people who collaborate, validate, and de-risk technology solutions for the business.

What is a Product Squad?

As a Product Manager, the first thing…

Kaelin Burns

Director of Product @ Artium; aspiring nerd, lifelong learner, endorphins addict, dance music aficionado, Trojan for life, in pursuit of the best burger in LA.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store