The success of the recent “Transform Academy: Product Management 101" training day in Manchester has left budding Product Managers wanting more.
Attendees came from a variety of public and private sector bodies, all deeply interested in improving their knowledge on all things Product Management.
Some of the genuine questions asked were ‘What are the differences between a Product Manager and a Project Manager?’, ‘Do Product Managers need a technical background?’ and ‘What skills are needed for Product Management?’. After looping back towards the end of the event, it was clear that we had managed to address them.
The course is designed to introduce Product Management as a practice, covering the basics for those who may have had minimal exposure or involvement, whilst refreshing some of the key aspects for those who actively work in the field.
Returning to the basics and refreshing my mind. It’s always helpful to remember that I’m doing things ‘right’.
This is very much reflective of the theme which emerged in the room. Attendees were reassured that whilst they may not always have been aware of it, they were carrying out Product Management responsibilities within their roles. There was familiarity around topics on Product Vision, MVP, User Story Mapping and whilst not all attendees were in Product roles, the consensus was that they had all been involved in carrying out these Product responsibilities. Product management is broader than most people think.
A pleasing outcome for us at Transform was that we dispelled the myth around the specialist skills required to be a Product Manager. Some participants felt that if you don’t have a background in software development, you won’t be able to carry out the role. Some attendees even felt that as they had progressed into Product Management without studying the discipline in depth or gained any specific qualifications, they weren’t qualified to carry out Product Management. They felt much re-assured after the session that they were “right” for the role they were already carrying out.
A large part of the Product Manager role is the ability to wear different hats, communicate with different stakeholders effectively and be adaptable to changes in direction. The important skills here include leadership, communication and decision-making, and what our attendees found pleasing was these skills are very much transferable from roles that they're in currently. In fact, the session highlighted that every Product Manager has their own approach.
The event reinforced what I knew about Product Mgmt and what I should be doing. Also, it helped me understand that every Product Manager is different.
Predictably, the question around how AI will impact Product Management did arise. This emerging technology is directly linked to the PM role, not only from the point of view of software solutions becoming more and more likely to include AI technology to help meet user needs, but also in the sense of assisting us as Product Managers in our day-to-day work. AI Tooling can help with Product Management in areas such as analysing user research and data, user testing as well as different elements of product writing. The message was very much that this should be perceived as an exciting opportunity, rather than a concern.
In summary, the Product Management 101 course provided time for the group to unpick some of the myths they had about product management, whilst learning or refreshing product skills. Despite the rainy weather in Manchester this day, the feedback was incredibly positive, and there's appetite for a deeper dive into some of the key areas - something which we at Transform would be happy to facilitate.
I would be interested in further sessions, on some of the topics covered like backlog management, product governance, but also sessions on UX/UI 101
‘Product Management 101’ can be treated as the first iteration of Transform Product related training courses. We’ve tested the waters with real users (our attendees), and we know what they want to see more of.
Please share your ideas or needs for training in this area at transformation@TransformUK.com and we'd be happy to help you assist you in meeting these!