The Role of Product Managers in Driving Success


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 06, 2023

4 min read


The Role of Product Managers in Driving Success


Product management is a crucial aspect of any successful business. Behind every great product lies the efforts of a skilled and dedicated product manager. However, not all approaches to product management lead to success. In this article, we will explore different ways in which product managers work and highlight the approach that yields the best results.

Escalation vs. Collaboration:

There are essentially three ways for a product manager to work. One approach is to escalate every issue and decision up to the CEO, essentially acting as a backlog administrator. However, this model often fails to deliver desired outcomes. CEOs who follow this approach often find that their product managers struggle to make meaningful progress.

Another approach is design by committee, where the product manager calls a meeting with all stakeholders and lets them fight it out. Unfortunately, this method rarely leads to anything beyond mediocrity. It fails to leverage the expertise and insights of individual team members, resulting in compromised products.

The third and most successful approach is for the product manager to do their job effectively. This means collaborating with all stakeholders, including design and engineering teams, to solve real problems for users and customers while meeting the needs of the business. Successful product managers understand that true leadership is essential in driving product success.

Netflix: A Case Study in Innovation:

Netflix provides a compelling example of a product challenge that required innovative thinking. The company wanted to ensure that customers could watch a set of movies they would love without bankrupting the company. This led to the development of the queue, ratings system, and recommendation engine. These technological innovations enabled Netflix to create a more desirable business model and improve customer satisfaction.

BBC: Shifting from Broadcast Content to Content Distribution:

The BBC underwent a dramatic shift from broadcast content to content distribution, thanks to the efforts of a skilled product manager. By observing city center venues with large electronic billboard screens, the product manager identified an opportunity to tailor content for specific venues and audiences. This shift in strategy significantly impacted the reach of BBC's mobile offerings, with over 50 million people now relying on BBC's mobile platform every week.

Apple iTunes: Driving Mass Market Adoption:

Apple iTunes faced the challenge of transitioning from early adopters to mass market adoption. This required a blend of product and marketing efforts. By integrating iTunes into popular TV shows like American Idol, the product manager targeted a specific persona and drove up engagement. Making it easy for non-users to access iTunes was also a critical factor in driving adoption.

Adobe Creative Suite: Embracing Change for Success:

Adobe Creative Suite, a successful desktop-based software, needed to adapt to the changing market landscape and embrace a subscription-based model. The product manager understood that this change would face resistance from existing customers. To overcome this, the product manager clearly articulated a compelling vision of the new Creative Cloud and continuously communicated the benefits to stakeholders. This proactive approach ensured a smooth transition and secured the company's future success.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Collaborate and Communicate: To be a successful product manager, it is essential to collaborate with all stakeholders and build bridges across functions. Constant communication and the ability to convey a compelling vision are key to overcoming resistance and driving product success.
  • 2. Embrace Innovation: Smart product managers leverage new technologies to reach new audiences and enable new business models. By thinking outside the box and exploring creative solutions, they can solve complex business problems and drive growth.
  • 3. Exhibit Grit and Leadership: Great product managers exhibit extraordinary grit and leadership skills. They push companies beyond their comfort zones, persistently advocating for change with compelling evidence. Regardless of title or level, aspiring product managers should not be afraid to lead and take charge.


Product management plays a critical role in the success of any product or business. By collaborating effectively with design and engineering teams, product managers can solve real problems for users and customers while ensuring the needs of the business are met. Successful product managers exhibit innovation, grit, and leadership, driving their companies to thrive in an ever-evolving market. By following actionable advice and adopting a collaborative mindset, aspiring product managers can pave their path to success.

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