Product Management is both an art and a discipline. In one sense it is the intersection between a company’s technology and the unmet needs of its market. It’s critical to understand the technological assets of the company, where its key points of differentiation lie, and the directions in which those technologies can be easily extended. These technological assets need to be conceptually overlaid on market maps of consumer segments, and competition. Where the two intersect, opportunity lies.
“Strategy is easy, but tactics are hard”
This quote comes from the famous venture capitalist, Arthur Rock who helped finance companies such as Apple, Intel, Fairchild Semiconductor and Compaq. He writes:
Good ideas and good products are a dime a dozen. Good execution and good management—in a word, good people—are rare. To put it another way, strategy is easy, but tactics—the day-to-day and month-to-month decisions required to manage a business—are hard. That’s why I generally pay more attention to the people who prepare a business plan than to the proposal itself.
But really—strategy is hard, tactics are hard.
The truth is that coming up with interesting ideas is pretty easy. Toss some creative people together, add a dash of inspiration, and you’re bound to come up with more ideas than you can possibly execute on. Winnowing through those ideas, finding the gems and developing them is harder. Turning raw ideas into strategies that support a business is a real challenge. This is, in some sense, the “art” of Product Management.