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!

Design Thinking and the Product Manager Role | Davide Scalzo (II)

Apr 12, 2017

Davide Scalzo, Product Manager Octopus Lab, 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. This is the second part of the interview. Read the first part here.

Steliana: Which of the tools you use as Product Manager are your favorites?

The Buffer way to happy customers (I)

Jan 18, 2017

Our colleague, Monica Obogeanu, product manager at Mozaic Labs, sat down with Thomas to talk about his recent experience at Buffer. After joining Buffer as a researcher and doing plenty of customer development work, Thomas transitioned to the onboarding team, where he does various research and UX tasks to improve the first-time experience of Buffer customers.

Thomas shares about the way they work and different roles at Buffer. Read on for interesting learnings along the way, useful tools for a product manager, and much more. This is the first part of the interview. Read here the second part.

UX Strategy Workshop with Jaime Levy – Why learn about it

Apr 26, 2017

This June 7th, User Experience Strategist Jaime Levy will combine forces with Product Leaders (un)Conference to deliver a 1-day, hands-on, highly interactive workshop on UX Strategy.

The workshop is helping UI and UX practitioners, product teams and managers, business execs and startup founders who want to improve their strategic processes and practices. You’ll learn collaborative techniques that accelerate your thinking around product differentiation and innovative business models.

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