Should PMs overlap with designers, researchers and product marketing?
“How do you keep product managers, product designers, product marketing managers and product researchers from overlapping each other?”
A really common question regarding product-people relationships. After +20 interviews with Research & Design directors and Product Leaders during One Month PM, I’ve validated my view that preventing overlapping is actually a mistake.
Every product team has a single goal: solving the problem. Does it matter that much who is in charge of executing a task that gets you closer to it? Does it matter as long as the overlap is done respectfully and optimizing for the best outcome possible? If any person can do, go for it. A team that is a true team doesn’t care who does it, only cares it’s done.
I believe equilibrium for each role lies with the current timeframe of an initiative. Whether it’s in the past (shipped), in the present (being developed, designed), or in the future (being scooped/researched). Each moment has a group of tasks. In a world of dual-track (discovery + delivery or shaping + building) my team spends this amount of time:
Product Manager > 20% past, 30% present, 50% future
Product Marketing > 60% past, 20% present, 20% future
Product Research > 30% past, 10% present, 60% future
Product Designer > 10% past, 40% present, 50% future
As no one is fully owning the tasks of a moment, the overlap creates micro-squads and optimizes this group of people to do what needs to be done, independently of the role, to solve the problem.