Product Management lessons seem to abound online. However, it’s not always the case that you get the chance to hear them in context.
David Berger has gained a lot of clarity about the PM role through his years at LinkedIn and Facebook. Currently Product Manager for Facebook Messenger, here are his key 9 lessons for aspiring and established PMs.
Meet David Berger
David Berger is a Product Manager at Facebook, leading the interfaces team on Messenger. In the past, he has also worked at LinkedIn, as Head of Identity Engagement Products. As an experienced PM and tech guru, he has been an advisor for several startups and mentor for various accelerators, like Startx.
9 Product Management lessons important for aspiring and experienced PMs
Product Management is such a young job title that prospective PMs often find it hard to identify a voice with the experience and expertise to guide them. David Berger generously shared his insights, from his early moments as an adaptable PM, to his current position, hiring and building his product teams. Overall, the conclusion is that the world of product is full of opportunities to enter and make and impact. You just need to have a clear sense of direction.
David Berger’s insights on dealing with industry changes:
- “Things change so often [in this industry], so how could you possibly ask for particular tech experiences?”
- “When I left desktop and started doing mobile, people thought I was crazy. But I wanted to be a mobile expert because I thought it was going to be unique”.
Product Management Lessons
Lesson #1 of a PM: Prepare for success
- PMs are usually prepared for the worst.
- But what if your feature is taken up enthusiastically? You have to be ready to scale it up, making sure it also works even if thousands of people are using it at the same time.
Lesson #2 of a PM: Strong opinions, loosely held
- “You can’t be successful as a PM without having a very strong opinion”
- March on, while having a robust idea of your key goals. Of course, if data and user experience tell you otherwise, be ready to change your opinion!
Lesson #3 of a PM: Be adjustable
- “The best thing you can do as PM is to adjust to what your team needs”
- Engineers, PMs, Marketers… they need to know how to negotiate with each other and adjust their styles accordingly.
Lesson #4 of a PM: Skate where the puck is going
- How do you diffentiate what you do as a PM?
- Pay attention to the big industry trends. You should be aware of its direction of travel and evolution, so you can prepare your PM skillset.
Lesson #5 of a PM: If you want to understand your users, have a diverse team
- It’s easy to design a product if you just think about yourself.
- However, in reality there’s no way a single individual will understand hundreds, thousands, even millions of users. Having a team with diverse backgrounds, interests and approaches is extremely helpful to test different solutions.
Lesson #6 of a PM: Surround yourself with people who complement you
- You could try and learn as much as you can about everything.
- However, as a much simpler alternative, surround yourself with those professionals that can complement your skills. Don’t be afraid of strong team members, embrace them!
Lesson #7 of a PM: Put smart people on hard projects – don’t worry about backgrounds
- The tech industry is in constant change, so there is no set list of skills you need for success.
- With time and dedication, people can figure things out. Trust people and you’ll see how it works out.
Lesson #8 of a PM: Scale your Product team thoughtfully… but also make sure they’re set up for success
- “Really understand the stage and kind of product that you have“
- When you scale up your product team, you need clear roadmaps and a PM you trust to provide a direction to the engineering team.
Lesson #9 of a PM: Know what you’re looking for in your career – and do everything to make it happen
- “People who are happiest really know what they’re looking for in their next role”
- Don’t be afraid of change but DO have a sense of where you want to be. Otherwise jumping around between roles will make you unhappy.