Spread thinner than the Tequila in a Chili's Margarita Machine

Want your product managers to be able to be more strategic? Then don't overload them, regardless of how much you need them to do more tactical tasks...

Every once in a while, the Dude sees a tweet that resonates enough to bring down the Golden Gate Bridge. This is one of them:

Every time the Dude starts a new gig, he is tasked with a single product, a single market(ish) and the full stack of responsibility for that product, and/or market.

It is blissful. The ability to dive deeply, to explore the intricacies of the market, the competition, and the landscape. For six to nine months, it is a golden time in product management.

Then it happens. The conversation.

"Dude, you're an ace, and we love what you do, and have done. We have product line Y that needs some of the same attention. Can you pick it up?"

Suddenly, instead of a good gig, laser focused on a single product and market, the Dude needs to split his time. Of course, the first product was a bit of a basket case when the Dude began, and attention has turned it around. So the Dude can just add to that scope.

And once the second product is in shape, the dreaded conversation will add a third.

And so on... Until the Dude regrets that his parents ever met.

But the true tragedy is reflected in the tweet above. The gloming on of more and more responsibility. Promoting to management, adding direct reports (always without hiring people to replace the Dude's old product responsibilities) means even more defocusing.

Until the Dude decides it is time to leave.

Truth is, the Dude is an old salt. He knows how to quickly work through team issues, and to improve the situation on the ground. To build team cohesiveness. To motivate other stakeholders. And he can scale it.

But what always falls by the wayside is the big picture. Building a solid, forward looking roadmap. Defining and executing on a strategy. Living at the 30,000 foot view that is needed in dealing with the senior leadership team. There just isn't time to pull yourself up when you are managing 3/4/5 finicky product teams.

And hence, dear Product leader, if you want your product managers to really be full stack...


NO matter how resilient they seem, no matter how willing they are to take more on (srsly, we don't want to find a new job, so we say 'Yes',) no matter how much you need them. It will kill your product team. Your best people will leave, and senior leadership will wonder what the fuck is happening.

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