A5: Mapping the product management
Forming an organising frame for the field of product management from the perspective of key tasks and metrics of product manager.
This week’s task is first of the two concluding assignments. The fifth week of the course turns the focus from the individual interfaces to the integrative field of product management. Already the prior weeks have introduced multiple perspectives and metrics, and this week will add on them by covering frameworks, tools and metrics that are specific to product management.
While the week focuses on creating coherence to the field of product management, the different tools and metrics do not amount to a well-defined and crisp description of a product manager. There’s no one definition of the role, but the specifics of the product, organization, and industry matter for the tasks at hand.
Therefore, the task for the week is to take stock of the key ideas presented so far, select a perspective, and form an organizing framework that charts both the key dimensions of product management and incorporates the key tools and metrics to this framework. It will have a dual role of acting both as a backward-looking summary of the course topics and a forward-looking map for interpreting and navigating the field of product management.
THE TASK IN STEPS
- Identify topics. Take stock of the key ideas presented so far. Collect ideas, tools, metrics, roles, task and such related to the product management that you have come across during the course (or earlier). Focus especially on the lectures and the key readings, but you are welcome to include also additional materials, if you wish.
- Identify organizing dimensions. Analyse, categorise, and summarize the topics and notes that you identified in step 1. Try and find categories and dimensions that would organize your notes into a framework. For this, you can analyse e.g. what aspects and characteristics of product, organization, industry, technology, and such seem to influence what is the role of product manager? Or what tools and metrics are common to the whole field of PM and which of them are relevant to only some flavours of it? The key is to find underlying dimensions (or drivers) that seem to give structure to the key topics that you have identified .
- Form an organizing framework. Based on the topics (step 1) and dimensions (step 2), form a single framework that organizes your insights and observations. This step should result into a presentation that illustrates how the topics relate to each other according to the identified dimensions.
It’s recommended to target the framework for some use. You can focus the framework to serve as a map of the field of product management for someone who is unfamiliar to PM, but knows a related field, e.g., someone working in an organization without explicit product management function. Or alternatively, it can serve as personal map for making sense of PM. There are multiple other opportunities. In any case, state the chosen purpose in the reporting.
- Report the results. Use a dominantly visual format. This does not exclude text, but the text cannot define the overall visual layout and flow of the reporting. The positioning of visual elements on the report need to convey meaning about their relations (e.g., conceptually separate ideas are placed a part, distance means larger separation, connecting line or positioning within shared border denote connection between topic, and so on.
- Return as a single pdf-file. Again, use a minimal number of pages (a single page would be splendid). In all cases, the first page should contain the main framework. As the focus is on visual reporting format, the second page can add only very minor detail, categorize sources, or such.