The Four Levels of Product Managers and the Addictive Nature of Self Improvement

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Sep 21, 2023

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The Four Levels of Product Managers and the Addictive Nature of Self Improvement

Introduction:

Self-improvement has become a buzzword in today's society, with many individuals seeking ways to enhance their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. At the same time, businesses are grappling with the challenge of finding the right product managers to drive their success. In this article, we will explore the connection between these two seemingly unrelated topics and uncover the common points that lie beneath the surface.

Level 1: Shipping ⛵

The first level of product management focuses on the basic need of shipping features. At smaller companies, this responsibility often falls on the tech lead or the first product manager. They are tasked with ensuring the successful release of new features by collaborating with design, testing with customer input, and working closely with engineering. This level is crucial for laying the foundation of a product and establishing its initial market presence.

Level 2: Planning 🚂

As a company grows, it becomes essential to have a more senior product manager who can strategically plan for the future. This involves continually challenging product-market fit and aligning the team on a 3-6 month, mid-term vision for the product. This role requires a high level of emotional intelligence to creatively draw out real customer needs and build a vision that rallies the team. Experience plays a significant role in this level, as the art of surveying and interviewing customers becomes essential.

Level 3: Strategic ✈️

Once a company has achieved product-market fit and has enough runway to survive 2-3 years, it is time to think strategically. At this level, a director or VP-level product manager takes the company's vision and lays out the pathways that pave the way towards the big hairy audacious goal (BHAG). These strategic decisions move the company down a different path and require the PM to rally stakeholders and explore ways to test and de-risk each decision. The strategic PM plays a vital role in shaping the future of the company.

Level 4: Strategic Partnering 🚀

When a company is looking to bolster its moat with product bets and design an organization that can sustain growth, a Chief Product Officer (CPO) becomes necessary. The CPO sets and reinforces the culture of the product organization, handles partnerships with external entities, and tells a powerful product story to the board, customers, and the team. This level requires a well-networked CPO who can bring opportunities to the table and ensure the continued flow of funding or revenue.

Connecting the Dots:

Now, let's connect the dots between product management and self-improvement. Both require a deep understanding of needs, a clear vision, and the ability to make strategic decisions. Just as a product manager progresses through different levels to meet the evolving needs of a company, individuals seeking self-improvement must also adapt and grow.

Self-improvement = improvement of the physical, mental, and spiritual self. It is essential to have a powerful reason for pursuing self-improvement, just as a product manager needs a strong purpose to drive decisions. Without a compelling why, efforts, goals, and habits may not be worth pursuing. The journey of self-improvement should be focused on the self, allowing for personal growth and change as perspectives shift.

Take Action:

To ensure successful self-improvement, consider the following actionable advice:

  • 1. Define Your Purpose: Critically question your efforts, goals, and habits. Discover a powerful reason for pursuing self-improvement to avoid feeling empty or unfulfilled.
  • 2. Embrace Change: Recognize that self-improvement is an ongoing process. As you grow older and your life perspective changes, adapt your approach to self-improvement. Embrace change as an integral part of life.
  • 3. Seek Guidance: Just as companies benefit from the expertise of experienced product leaders, individuals can benefit from seeking guidance and mentorship. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and can provide valuable insights on your self-improvement journey.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the four levels of product managers and the addictive nature of self-improvement share common points. Both require a deep understanding of needs, a clear vision, and the ability to make strategic decisions. By recognizing the parallels between these two seemingly unrelated topics, individuals can approach self-improvement with a structured mindset and drive meaningful change in their lives. Remember to define your purpose, embrace change, and seek guidance to ensure a successful journey of self-improvement.

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