Full disclosure: I was inspired to write this post by this article. The author even listed one of my own Venn diagrams in his list!! 🙂 Now on with the show.

As a Product Manager, they tell you that:


You may WANT to be there…But in reality, in most cases:

Quite often:

And in some unfortunate cases:

In some companies, possibly:

BTW, I’m not quite sure:

Towards a more accurate illustration of Product Management

The problem with the original diagram is that it over-emphasizes UX and Technology and is missing some other key items that are critical aspects of Product Management. In my opinion, the over-emphasis of UX/Tech skews people’s perception of what Product Management is and how to hire, staff and manage it. It’s like having a diagram that describes sales as a mixture of phone calls, meetings and business. Sure, it’s kind of true, but not an accurate representation of it.

So, what’s a better way to describe Product Management?

Another Venn diagram describing Product Management can be found here. The diagram looks something like this:


This is a bit better. UX and Technology are combined (thus reducing their dominance in the mix), Business is still there, but the empty spot is occupied by Customer. i.e. a blend of Customer focus, Business focus and UX+Tech focus. That seems to be an improvement, but to me, there’s still something missing. So let’s dig a little deeper.

Let’s start with the end.

The goal of Product Management is product success.

Success is defined by the business objectives of your product. Success could be initial customer adoption, it could be growth, revenue, profit, market share, or something else.

To achieve product success, you need to align the following:

  • Business Objectives
  • Market Need
  • Product Capability
  • Organizational Effectiveness

If you remove any one of those from the equation, can you achieve product success? The answer is “No”. Is there anything significant that needs to be added to the mix? I can’t see any. So in an ideal world, if you’re a Product Manager doing your job properly:

To me, at least, this better represents what we do. Product Management is a CROSS-FUNCTIONAL LEADERSHIP role whose job it is to achieve PRODUCT SUCCESS in line with company objectives.

What do you think? Does this work for you? Is this a better description (and diagram) of what Product Management is about?

A little feedback please

Since you’ve read this far, why not give me a little anonymous feedback on the article. 3 short questions, it’ll only take a minute, and it’ll put a smile on my face. What could be better than that? Click here.

Saeed Khan is a founder of Transformation Labs and has worked for over 20 years in high-technology companies building and managing market leading products. He speaks regularly at industry events on the topic of product management and product leadership. You can contact him via Twitter @saeedwkhan or via the Contact Us page.