The case for rotating though products
The market changes. Trends in the marketplace affect the appeal of your message and the profitability of your product. Winning products thrive on big thinkers with the expertise to solve common challenges.
Should a company hire a product manager with years of experience in, and knowledge of, the industry? How about a product manager who can quickly master a market and domain. One with generic, transferable product management capabilities. One who engaged with not just new technologies but also new business models. Who evolved in tandem with the types of products, customers, and markets they engaged with.
You make your own luck.
Rotating through products doesn’t require an MBA or the perfect mix of business, technical and design/UX skills. It does require branching out into new markets and a willingness to make unconventional, and even risky career moves. Seek out cross-industry opportunities that touch numerous markets and experiment with various business models. Tackle tough, complex problems, make decisions under pressure, rally others around you and inspire them to believe in the product goal. Above all, make a habit of understanding the product/market fit -- that’s where the leverage is.
It's like riding a bike
After years of practice in product, here are the behaviours my rotation has demonstrated. I’ve launched ad, social, ed tech, media and now artificial intelligence products. I've demonstrated an understanding of the mechanism and defined product management for myself. Despite varying organization cultures; the technical, political, and organizational roadblocks don't prevent me from inspiring my team through a consistent focus on strategy and metrics. It's like riding a bike -- give me any type of two wheeler and I'll have a plan. That's not a teachable skillset as it relies on a subconscious trust in what I believe is important. Acquiring domain expertise, enthusiasm, being pro-active, and over-communicating are an automatism. All things being equal, I focus on getting unilateral buy-in using the product/market fit.
Whether you aspire to be a formal Product Manager, are already one, or are leading products at scale, you need to keep abreast of, or expect, market changes. Get an edge by collecting as many valuable experiences as you can from as many places as possible. Stay a big thinker and move between products. Learn how to collaborate more. Learn to be productive. Learn to influence.
I thrive in middle market and scrappy startup environments, where everyone does a little of everything. I work closely with CSuite leadership teams towards product-market fit and operating at scale. Check me out on Reflektions.com and view my LinkedIn profile.
Thanks to Judy Wong, Oz Nazilli for reading drafts of this. Photo by Simon Connellan on Unsplash. Also, if you have any feedback or criticism about this article then shoot me an email.