What makes a great product manager? Google suggests dozens of articles with a variety of characteristics and skills highlighted. As it is a frequent question on every Product Management interview, and you usually want to give MECE answers on an interview, I put my top-qualities list in a matrix, based on a KANO model:
We seriously lack data science management talent.
There is a shortage of experienced data scientists ready and wanting to become managers. Data scientists also lacks management skills..
On the other hand we have strong product managers with no experience in data science project.
Solution would be to devote much more management resources to data science projects. Consider having dual management structure: data scientist converting to management AND senior project manager.
Hi Laura. How does a degree in psychology help you (or not) as a product manager? Please share some examples of situations when psychological knowledge (e.g. theory, research) and skills (e.g. counselling) directly impacted your work or even the behavior of your colleagues. Thank you. 🍀
Asked by Povilas Godliauskas
Povilas, thanks for your question! It was actually a great opportunity to think retrospectively what I have learned during these years and what I am actually applying or I could do more.
- The first thing that came to my mind was definitely Active listening. It is a skill that I do believe anyone can benefit from it. Giving a full attention and respect to a speaker, not trying to interpret what the one is saying, better applying mirroring or affirmations techniques, definitely helped me in a lot of conversations starting with colleagues, stakeholders, users and etc. Listening skills help me to not only show understanding and concern, that are important when talking with users or colleagues but to collect important insights/feedbacks that can be crucial in product development.
- Researches and analytics is a big topic that can definitely be applied in Product Management. Understanding the ways researches are conducted, what are the differences between quantitative/qualitative data, being able to manoeuvre and actually understand what is the correlation, statistical significance and conversion rates - something that definitely came from my Psychology studies. As user research can take a big part of your product development cycle, psychology studies helped me to understand how to raise hypotheses, measure them and be critical to data and a lot of possible biases or insights.
- I would also mention social psychology as a separate field/branch that can help you more understand about human behaviour, thoughts beliefs and certain patterns of thinking. As it is widely applied in the marketing field, Product Management, UX design and etc. - are not an exception. There are definitely very common principles as: social proof, recency effects, Gestalt principles and many more that I found myself thinking of. The whole field of applied social psychology is about understanding why we behave in certain ways - I guess understanding the concepts answers sometimes helps to answer a lot of questions when developing a product for a smart conscious human being.
- And the last one. For me - Psychology is about the people, curiosity and never ending learnings - values that leads me through every step in my personal and career development:) 🚀✨
If you want to revive, renew and reinvent your activity wouldn’t it be handy to have an INNOVATION MANAGER?
Just as even the most expert surgeon can’t operate on himself, you need someone with an outside perspective.
A fresh pair of eyes and new brain can work wonders. By giving the doctor your trust and complete information, you’re on the way to being cured.
Every case is different, and you need not only deep experience of different kinds of innovation techniques, but also be able to gauge how it will impact your specific organization.
What kind of person becomes an INNOVATION MANAGER?
Usually they are generalists rather than specialists. These people can fit for so many different positions because they bring a wide-angle lens to a problem that a normal employee would just bring a close up view for. The best example is the main character from a TV series “Pretender”, Jarod who can quickly master complex skill sets to successfully impersonate any profession. It sounds unbelievable but these kinds of people really exist and can create huge benefits for those who are looking for effective innovations.
How does an INNOVATION MANAGER Operate?
Studies indicate that our ability to think creatively comes one-third from genetics; but two-thirds of the innovation skill set comes through LEARNING and UNDERSTANDING different skills then PRACTICING, EXPERIMENTING
and at the end ASSOCIATING them.
So, an INNOVATION MANAGER will come to your “home” – company, he is going to
to observe everything like an anthropologist or social scientist.
He carefully looks for small behavioral details—in the activities of customers, suppliers, and even cleaning ladies of your office—in order to gain insights about new ways of doing things.
Then he is going to talk to as many team members as possible, including an engineer, a stay-at-home dad, and a designer to identify what kind of innovation could benefit your business or organization.
The most important role of INNOVATION MANAGER is to find THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.
Is it a new team?
Is it a management technique?
Is it a product?
Is it service offer?
Is it a marketing campaign?
Is it a communication campaign?
Is it long-term vision?
Is it turnover?
Is it a leadership skill?
Is it the atmosphere?
Is it meaning of work?
Is it the engineers?
Is it the front-line workers?
Is it the office?
Is it the motivation?
Is it the general mood?
Is it clients service?
Is it proceeding?
Is it logistics?
What is it?
‘If we did this, what would happen?’”
Bringing all the team together, mixing them with new professionals from outside, asking to imagine a completely different alternative can lead to truly original insights.
In these ways INNOVATION MANAGER will find the ANSWERS together with the team and will develop the creative spark in everyone.
The best historical example is the “Medici effect,” referring to the creative explosion in Florence when the Medici family as “INNOVATION MANAGER” of that time brought together people from a wide range of disciplines—sculptors, scientists, poets, philosophers, painters, and architects. As these individuals connected, new ideas blossomed at the intersections of their respective fields, thereby spawning the Renaissance, one of the most inventive eras in history.
If you want a Renaissance in your business – just reserve a call :)