The Product Polygon

No one is more likely to Google ‘what does a product manager do’ than product managers. Our jobs are amorphous, ever-changing, and totally dependent on context. The shape of a successful PM role can vary wildly between companies, teams, or even roles on the same team, so we’re always on the lookout for models to help make sense of our field.

Most PMs are likely familiar with the infamous Venn diagram of UX, engineering, and business, with PMs located at dead center. However, oftentimes we find that our skills and interests put us more toward one of the edges than the middle, and moreover that what our teams need from is are also not perfectly balanced, in ways that aren’t apparent until problems arise.

Rather than focus on how product relates to other roles like UX and engineering, let’s instead look at what PMs do, what perspectives we bring to the table, and how those can match up with the skills and perspectives our teams need. An effective product manager role isn’t a point on a Venn diagram, but rather a unique, differently-shaped polygon with vertices such as communications, leadership, organization, and yes, UX, business, and engineering. In this talk, David will introduce this model for understanding what PMs do, and how PMs can relate it to understanding and developing their careers.