Is product knowledge more of an asset or liability for a product manager?
Is product knowledge important in a product management role? Absolutely! The more important question is how much product knowledge is required to be successful? If you’re not a technical product manager, you probably don’t need as much as you think.
Consider the following:
- Product knowledge tells you HOW a product works.
- Do you need to know HOW a product works to assess the dynamics of the market, understand the business goals and challenges of your target customers, articulate a business plan and many of the other responsibilities of a product manager? The answer is, absolutely not.
A product manager’s job is 80% WHO, WHAT & WHY. Not only is product knowledge not required for those aspects of the job, it’s an encumbrance because it inhibits your ability to see the market for what it is. Product knowledge subconsciously forces product managers to see the market through the biased lens of their products.
This may be the single most difficult thing product managers have to do — see the market through an unbiased lens and then determine how to use their products to deliver solutions with high value.
The easy fix? Make the business goals of your target customers your primary focus. It will change everything about product management and do so in a way that valuable to your entire organization.