Drafting Your Product Management Manifesto

By Brian Lawley, Pamela Schure

Someone once compared product management to refrigerator function. You don’t notice when it’s running well, but when it’s broken, things start to stink. Remember that when you do your job well, the company hums much better — even if it doesn’t know you’re the source of the humming. There is less confusion and more direction.

Getting to function this well comes from really knowing how you fit in and how you drive your vision forward. With this idea in mind, try to draft your own product management manifesto. This document is your guiding philosophy on how you do your job and provide direction.

Here are a few guidelines:

  • The Is have it. This manifesto guides your actions. Start each sentence with “I”: “I am committed to… ,” “I have a plan… ,” “I will do… ,” and so on.
  • It’s a 360-degree view. List all your stakeholders and determine what your stance is for each of them.
  • Balance is key. The one constant in being a product manager is that it involves a lot of trade-offs. Make sure you have a plan for communicating how you will decide between two courses of action. For example, “When in doubt, I will focus on validating my opinion using customer feedback.”
  • Know your decision-making plan. In fact, the entire decision-making process underpins your success. How will you make a decision? For example, write “I will be open to many opinions before I make a final decision.”

The manifesto should be no longer than one page and, because you’re giving direction to other people, provide the philosophical support for how you approach your job. See the following figure for a sample of a product manager’s manifesto.

prodmgmt-manifesto
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Sample product manager manifesto.