The Origins of the Product Manager vs Product Owner Dilemma

May 09, 2017 by Magda Zucker in  Speaker Profile

Gabriel Steinhardt, founder and CEO Blackblot, speaking at Product Leaders 2017, just got interviewed by our colleague, Steliana Moraru, Event Manager. 

Read on to discover his professional experience, lessons learned and challenges met along the way. 

Steliana: You are Blackblot’s founder and CEO, as well as the developer of the Blackblot Product Manager’s Toolkit® (PMTK) product management methodology. Why did you choose a career in this field? 

Gabriel: I choose a career in product management because of the multidisciplinary nature of the profession, which makes every day different and new. The reality of my work experience had confirmed that product management professionals need to be good at a multitude of topics including finance, marketing, product, technology, customer interaction, public addressing, diplomacy, politics, and more.

I had also realized that no other role in the organization, not in engineering, finance, sales, or marketing, prepares a person to successfully hold a top executive position as effectively as a role in product management.

Steliana: What professional and personal skills should product managers have?

Gabriel: Those in the field of product management must possess a multitude of skills with a cumulative emphasis on strategic thinking and numerical analysis. Responsibilities may vary from company to company, but the core job function often encompasses formulating market requirements and contributing to the search for the most productive way to build long-term value for a product.

Qualified product managers have 4 business competencies: Domain Expertise, Functional, Expertise, Soft Skills, and Strategic Aptitude. This effectively means having specific industry experience and technological know-how, knowledge in processes/tools and techniques to plan and market products, non-technical skills – mostly communicative (written, verbal, and presentation) – used in business, and long-term planning and decision making abilities that help achieve corporate objectives.

Steliana: Share with us a little more about the experience that inspired your talk at Product Leaders (un)Conference.

Gabriel: Several years ago I began to sense and receive feedback that there was an upheaval at software companies that committed themselves to Agile/Scrum. This was initially relegated to confusion on how the traditional Product Manager and the new Scrum Product Owner roles should be reconciled. Are these two roles essentially the same? Are these two roles fundamentally different? Should one role be canceled in favor of the other?

I had decided to thoroughly investigate and resolve the Product Manager vs Scrum Product Owner dilemma which software companies had encountered.

Steliana: Which would be some Do’s and some Don’ts for a product manager or product owner? 

Gabriel: Very succinctly, the primary Do’s for a Product Manager is to excel at being a market expert (not a product/project/technology expert), thoroughly understand the definition of product management, and always strive to generate long-term value for your company by focusing more on formulating strategy and less on performing tactical activities.

The primary Don’ts for anyone is to avoid anything related to the Scrum Product Owner role and Scrum itself.

Steliana: Is there any advice you would like to share with the audience from Product Leaders? 

Gabriel: Product management has immense potential and a very bright future, but only if it is consistently and correctly understood. Follow the three principles of the product management domain:

  • Acknowledgment that product management is governed by methodological foundational rules, not opinions or interpretations.
  • Recognition that product management is a specialization, not a generalization.
  • Realization that product management is autonomous and distinct, not part of or subservient to any other professional domain or organizational department.
Product Leaders unconference

Want to meet Gabriel and ~200 tech product practitioners? Join today Product Leaders (un)Conference, 8-9 June, Bucharest, Romania!

Customer is the centre of everything | Richard Omollo, UX Designer Booking (I)

Feb 10, 2017

Richard Omollo, UX Designer Booking.com and speaker at Product Leaders 2017, just got interviewed by our colleague, Monica Obogeanu, product manager at Mozaic Labs.

Read on to discover his professional experience, lessons learned and challenges along the way. This is the first part of the interview. The second part of the interview is here.

Monica Obogeanu: Snooping through your LinkedIn profile, I noticed you have a wide & varied experience. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your favorite professional experiences and how they impacted where you are today.

Customer is the centre of everything | Richard Omolo, UX Designer Booking (II)

Feb 24, 2017

Richard Omolo, UX Designer Booking.com and speaker at Product Leaders 2017, just got interviewed by our colleague, Monica Obogeanu, product manager at Mozaic Labs

Read on to discover his professional experience, lessons learned and challenges along the way. The first part of the interview is here

Monica: How do you interact with your Product Owner? Where does one’s job end and the other’s begin? 

The Buffer way to happy customers (II)

Jan 31, 2017

Thomas Dunn, Product Researcher at Buffer, shared in the first part of the interview more about Buffer’s visions, working with data & tools to understand the customers and useful tools for a product manager. Read on for the second part of this interview, made by Monica Obogeanu, product manager MozaicLabs.

MO: Is there an error that you made, based on a wrong assumption? Or a sort of red flag that any product manager should keep in mind when doing research?

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