Weeknotes S01E03: one job, many roles?

I’ve had a few conversations with different people complaining about bad experiences with services (largely outside of work), and then thought “ah yes! but that’s because…”. It’s easy when you’re ‘inside the system’ to revert back to explanations, when it’s often better just to listen to people and learn from their experiences when you get those opportunities. After all, the ‘system’ reason isn’t normally a reason at all, but just a mix of historical choices, constraints and maintenance. This is something I need to get better at.

I had a few chats about the product manager role, and what a product manager can do in the context we’re in. I’m starting to think there are a couple of distinct roles, which I’ve found helpful to think about:

  • a ‘full product manager’ role, which encompasses product ownership as well as all the other things that a PM does;
  • a ‘product consulting’ role, where you get involved in a product, perhaps for a shorter period of time, to help a group of people ask questions about what a product could or should do, and particularly (in my context) how technology could support that. In this role, product ownership remains with someone in that group of people.

Not sure if other people identify with this. I know that ‘ownership’ can be a bit of an icky word in this context too — we all ‘own’ our work. I’m sure someone wrote a blog post (or Twitter thread) about this somewhere — if someone knows the one I’m talking about, please let me know.

Most of the things that I’m involved with at the moment fit into the ‘product consulting’ box, really. That’s OK, but I think it’s taken me a little while to realise that.

We realised that some stuff that was broken, we talked about it, and then we fixed it! This felt unreasonably satisfying, but I know that I need these little micro-motivations (is that a word??). As I write this, we’ve not yet published the new version, but our digital manual will soon be a little bit better. It was also so great to work with the rest of the team on this 💪