TL;DR — Behold, 16 hats that product owners & product managers wear as part of their ongoing quest to continuously deliver valuable software.
Last Friday, we had some fun with our 15 McCoy’isms. However, along with said silly sarcasm, I emphasized there are many hats product managers wear “ … A LOT OF HATS. This is the norm, and in most contexts perfectly acceptable.”
Below is a semi-definitive list of such roles that we as product owners and product managers need to be willing and able to take on.
Sleuth; /slo͞oTH/; working as an investigator, you entertain the circumstantial evidence presented to you but are savvy enough to dig past that which may not be obvious to the untrained eye to uncover the root causes of pain points and bugs.
Psychotherapist; /ˌsīkōˈTHerəpəst/; this work is two-fold, first in understanding the personas and players involved, and then remedying pain points by recommending modifications to product and/or workflow patterns to attain more desirable outcomes.
Air Traffic Controller; /er ˈtrafik kənˈtrōlər/; you serve as the person responsible for monitoring and directing the movements of products and features in flight, communicating with those in professional services and customer success to avoid unwanted collisions, conflicts, and loss of data.
Innovator; /ˈinəˌvādər/; you are person who establishes an environment that allows everyone involved to introduce and discuss new methods, ideas, or features that provide valuable product differentiation or domain disruption.
Triage Nurse; /trēˈäZH nərs/; you are a subject matter expert who is skilled at sorting out and prioritizing product issues among those needing the most immediate attention over others that can wait … or are too far gone for assistance.
Maestro; /ˈmīstrō/; (plural: maestri, feminine: maestra) this is a title of respect honoring a master in the art of cutting through the noise and chaos, bringing together all the parts and players to make beautiful music with a set of product or services.
Meat Cutter; /mēt ˈkədər/; not to be confused with the work of slaughter performed by a butcher, this skill positioned whereby an individual carefully cuts away unwanted or unneeded fat, gristle, cartilage, or bone from product backlog items.
Scrum-half; /skrəm haf/; you are the individual who puts the ball in play for your team in the most tactically advantageous way possible; the ball, in this case, being features and services incoming from stakeholders and customers. Sometimes referred to as a fly-half, this position has its equivalents in other sports such as a catcher in baseball, a captain or bowler in cricket, and a quarterback in American football.
Test Pilot; /test ˈpīlət/; skilled in dealing with new things, you are the one who climbs into the proverbial cockpit and evaluates experimental, newly produced and modified feature sets with specific maneuvers known as flight test techniques. The biggest difference between a real test pilot and a product person is that while both learn from catastrophic failures, usually only the latter walks away to fly another day.
Crisis Negotiator; /ˈkrīsis nəˈɡōSHēˌādər/; you employ communications techniques to resolve conflicts or negative reactions among stakeholders, customers, and your teams; especially careful to create trust in those cases where deliverables, contracts, or payments are held hostage.
Ambassador; /amˈbasədər/; you are the highest ranking resident representative for one or more features, services, or even entire product lines. One of the cornerstones of your mission is to attain and maintain a collaborative coexisting relationship among stakeholders, team members, and customers.
Playwright; /ˈplāˌrīt/; you are the wordsmith who produces compelling promises to conversations by means of epics, feature stories, and product backlog items; all the while avoiding the pitfall of bloating them into full-blown specifications.
Cheerleader; /ˈCHirˌlēdər/; as a servant leader, you are continually cheering on team members, inspiring sales and marketing, and encouraging customer success with the enthusiastic and vocal support of the products and services you support.
Marketeer; /ˈmärkəˈtir/; you extoll the value proposition to — and collaborate with — those engaged in activities and processes creating and delivering compelling the compelling message of outcomes to your customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
Juggler; /ˈjəɡ(ə)lər/; you are one skilled in keeping several initiatives in motion in the air at the same time by alternately tossing and catching them. Sometimes these endeavors take on the form of fire or chainsaws, in which dropping one could lead to disastrous results.
Scientist; /ˈsīəntəst/; as a scientist, you set forth set forth as hypotheses explanations for the occurrences of various specified groups of phenomena. You then engage in systematic observations, measurements, and experiments, and testing in the hopes of producing value and/or validated learning to your customers, your stakeholders, your organization, and/or your team.
Disagree? Awesome, leave a comment. Like what you see? Clap! Have another hat that product managers wear? Don’t be shy, let us know what it is.