The one thing that truly differentiates PM seniority
It's not managing larger products, features or teams
Growing as a PM is not just about your ability to manage larger features, more complex products or more people and teams. I don’t even think that is THE most important thing.
The THING that makes the difference between Senior and non-Senior product builders is the level of business impact that drives your product decisions. Here’s how different seniorities think about product:
- Junior/Associate PMs tend to focus on building features. Shipping the roadmap. Building more things.
- Mid PMs know that roadmaps and features are just a way to move metrics. Sometimes you can even move metrics without shipping new code.
- Senior PMs start focusing on the individual unit economics of the product. Will the new feature generate (more) revenue? Is the metric being moved adding value to the business? Can we improve a specific part of the bottom line
- Product leaders know it’s all about the product’s P&L (profit and loss), and lead more like a General Manager than a product builder. How is the margin affected by feature A? Is feature B extending the LTV (life-time-value) or adding a new customer segment? What’s the cost structure of expanding the product suite? How does shipping XYZ affect cross-department variable and fixed spending?
So how do you accelerate your PM career to the next level?
Juniors/Associates: start thinking about metrics, not features.
PMs: start thinking unit economics not just metrics.
Senior PMs: start acting like a GM and think profit and loss, not just improving economics.
And Product Leaders? Start being more ambitious on your P&L. Aim higher and risk more.