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20 things that strong PMs do that all others don't
Every single one is trainable
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One of the most common questions I get: “What’s the difference between a great PM and all other PMs?”. Though iota anecdotal data, when I talk with PMs who launched really successful products, there are a few patterns. Here are 20 traits shared by great product managers:
1. They are sharp and quick at cutting through noise and getting to signal. They are insanely structured at turning signal into narrative, and into action.
2. They are creative ideators. They look at a solution space and, instantly ask: “what if…”. They spit out different ways of doing it.
3. They go deep on the problem space, fast. It’s not just getting to the core of the problem: it’s getting there faster than everyone else.
4. They go wide on the solution space, fast, It’s not just generating ideas: it’s generating viable, valid options faster than everyone else.
5. They communicate complex topics in a clear way, using a small amount of words. They make it easy and quick for anyone to understand what’s ahead of them.
6. They manage expectations with the right people, and adapt how they do it based on who is in front of them.
7. They are quick to understand causality behind a problem, and quicker to show a 1-2-3 process to eliminate the issue.
8. They understand outcomes matter more than output but now when increasing output improves odd of outcome.
9. They balance data, gut, inspiration and perspiration. Generally numbers matter, instinct matters, creativity matters, and hustling matters.
10. They are relentless at shipping, and do whatever it takes. They don’t hide behind their role or title.
11. They say it as it is, because good or bad, it’s all about learning and progressing.
12. They care about details: across their features, how they treat people and how they iterate the process to build product.
13. They are reliable and consistent. When you need them, they answer, they deliver, they solve.
14. They are adaptable and quick to get comfortable. They understand context switching comes with the job.
15. They are emotionless at prioritising. It’s not what they feel or think, it’s what’s best for the situation.
16. They are annoyingly curious. Often they want to know “just because”.
17. They get sh*t done in invisible ways. It’s not about them, it’s about solving the problem.
18. They are restless when they feel they’re wasting their time.
19. They are ambitious, often unhappy with the current state of things, and eager for more, larger, harder.
20. They like round number lists, otherwise this would be “19 things” instead of 20 🙂
Every single one of these traits is trainable, and even if you already have them, you can improve. Want to ship great products? Get great at these ☝️