Passion has been touted as an absolute requirement for product managers. Well-intentioned – Possibly. Misguided – Definitely.
“Passion: It’s been mentioned before, but it warrants further mention: product managers need to love their product in the kind of way that makes others want to love the product. Not only that, but they need genuinely care about the concerns of the product’s users. If they don’t understand your customers, they’re not going to be your best product manager.”
The quote above is from a recent post/article from a well-known product management consultant who states, among many others, that a product manager must be passionate about the product and to transfer this passion and enthusiasm to others that can affect the business (sales, customer service, customers, maybe even the janitor). The belief is that this is the only way for a product to be successful.
I view this as new-age gobbledygook that ranks up (or down) there with magic crystals and fire-walking. If product managers should be passionate about anything it should be about RESULTS (revenue, gross margin, market share,…) and not about a product. Passion tends to blind humans to the limitations of their product. The PM is spouting-off, to anyone unfortunate enough to be within earshot, about how great the product is while all of the salesman and customers know of its shortcomings. This diminishes the credibility of the PM and the product in their eyes. I know because I’ve seen it happen multiple times.
The solution to this is to arm your sales team (and other interested parties) with the facts of the product’s attributes and its detracting characteristics. Tell them how they can will the majority of the opportunities; educate them on how well the system as a whole works. Be pragmatic about it and know that a good sales force will win more than they lose if well-informed and provided with the support that product managers are best at providing – namely broad-spectrum support from technical minutiae to application-specific topics to delivery schedules and large project package “deals.”
Results – not passion – pay the bills. Get that right, and you will succeed. Get it wrong, and you still may succeed but you will look foolish in the process.
Copyright 2015 Doug Ringer
Doug’s Blog is a weekly memo, which is always powerful and to the point. It focuses on innovative ideas to help organizations define, develop, and launch amazing products, and take them to the right customers quickly.
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