January 23, 2023

An effective product manager

There are three specific activities I have loved in some product managers I've worked with (and missed in others).


  • Talk with customers and prospects
  • Develop and share a vision
  • Evangelize

Talk with customers and prospects

As a product manager, your superpower over engineering is to have spent time with customers and prospects. You should have (or develop) a good understanding of the market and your product's potential.

The only way you can do this is by spending time, over time, with customers and prospects. Understanding their workflows and their issues.

Develop and share a vision

Cynical folks will cringe at the word "vision" but it is a serious and necessary part of a successful organization.

As a product manager, you should establish and share a path for engineering to follow based on your understanding of customers, prospects, the market, and the company.

This is the "roadmap" and "prioritization". But prioritization is useless without a long-term vision.

The roadmap should represent (and broadly demonstrate) a concrete and meaningful goal. A goal that you can and should adjust over time as the company and market changes.


In bigger organizations there might be dedicated evangelism teams. But product managers must drive this work.

Evangelism should fit the vision you've developed.

And in the absense of dedicated evangelism teams, product managers should be creating demos, writing blog posts, and testing the solution with customers and prospects.

Again, it's fine for dedicated teams outside of product management to do bits of that work. But it must be driven and led by the product manager.

It's hard

Observed as I have from outside, being an effective product manager feels like a massively challenging task.

It's so easy to go without talking to customers, to get sucked into day-to-day issues and not create a vision, and to allow evangelism to happen ad-hoc.

Then there's the fact you don't live in a vacuum. You may have a boss in product management. Your engineering peers may have competing priorities. You may have a hard time understanding the founders or CEO. In a large company, you may not even have a CEO.

My ideas, your ideas

These are my ideas based on my experience. You may have your own ideas. If mine help you, great! If they don't, great!