首页 > 译 文 > 成为伟大产品经理的秘诀是什么


Most product managers are driven to achieve excellence in their craft. Many, however, get stuck in what I call “product consultant” mode and cannot break out of it.


Many product managers never get to launch a product, let alone own one. They go from planning one product to the next, foregoing the opportunity to establish fundamental product instincts, which only develop after managing the same product for an extended period of time. This gap can be amplified by switching industries or by the rare occurrence of alternating between consumer and enterprise product management, which can be disruptive to a product manager’s professional development and career.


This post is about what it takes to break out this “product consultant” mode, how to avoid it and ultimately how to achieve excellence in product management.


Steve Jobs’ Take on Consulting


Below is what Steve Jobs said to a class of MIT graduates in 1992 once he realized that the majority of the students had a background in consulting.


“I think that without owning something over an extended period of time – like a few years – where one has a chance to take responsibility for one’s recommendations, where one has to see one’s recommendations through all action stages and accumulates scar tissue for the mistakes and pick oneself up off the ground and dust oneself off, one learns a fraction of what one can.


Coming in and making recommendations and not owning the results, not owning the implementation, I think is a fraction of the value and a fraction of the opportunity to learn and get better. You do get a broad cut at companies but it’s very thin.


It’s like a picture of a banana. You might get a very accurate picture but it’s only two-dimensional and without the experience of actually doing it, you never get three-dimensional. You might have a lot of pictures on your wall that you can show off to your friends – I’ve worked in bananas, I’ve worked in peaches, I’ve worked in grapes – but you never really taste it.”


Accumulating Product Management Scar Tissue


As I’ve shown in the above chart, many product managers typically transition from planning and pitching one product initiative to the next, and rarely get to launch and build one. From my experience, most new product initiatives within large organizations receive an average of 18 months of attention and then often get abandoned when the next wave of initiatives emerge. This environment prevents product managers from accumulating “product management scar tissue”, which develops from correcting your mistakes over an extended period of time spanning several major product releases.


In the above chart I’ve tried to show what it can look like when a product manager works on the same product for an extended period of time, where they can accumulate product management scar tissue. In fact, this is an example of a trajectory for a product manager who is able to improve as product manager.


The worst case, yet unrealistic scenario, is depicted in the chart below, because it assumes the product manager’s inability to learn from any of their mistakes. Any product leader would prevent this type of trajectory sooner than later.


Breaking out of Product Consultant Mode


Transformation from being self-centric to customer-centric


Product managers who make the transformation from being product consultants, have the privilege of working in an environment where they completely own their decisions and do not act on behalf of someone else. By owning all of the decisions, the product manager can eventually defeat the belief that building the product “my way” will lead to a great product.


  • A failure to overcome this belief can be disastrous, because it delays the realization that, in most cases, your own ideas are terrible when they are not based on the customer. I remember how early in my career I pushed my engineering team to add a carousel type feature to make it easy to jump from one user profile to the next. We went through countless revisions to only find out later that this feature was barely used by our customers. It simply didn’t occur to me that others wouldn’t want to use the application “my way”.
  • 如果不能克服这种信念,后果可能是灾难性的,因为它会延迟认识到,在大多数情况下,当你的想法不是基于客户的时候,它们是糟糕的。我记得在我职业生涯的早期,我是如何推动我的工程团队添加一个旋转轮类型的功能,以方便从一个用户配置文件跳转到下一个。我们进行了无数次的修改,后来才发现这个功能几乎没有被我们的客户使用。我根本没有想到其他人不愿意“按我的方式”使用这个应用程序。
  • What’s worse, the innate need to build products “my way” only increases product managers’ desire to act on their own ideas when an opportunity presents itself. This is why some product leaders during the later stages of their careers, when they have increased levels of autonomy, make self-centric product decisions, such as changing the location or color of a button in the middle of a design review – based on what makes sense to them. They never unlearned being self-centric. They never accumulated any substantial product management scar tissue. They never learned to be customer-centric.
  • 更糟糕的是,这种以“我的方式”构建产品的根深蒂固的需要只会增加产品经理在机会出现时按照自己的想法行事的欲望。这就是为什么一些产品领导者在他们职业生涯的后期,拥有更多的自主权时,会做出以自我为中心的产品决策,比如在设计评审过程中改变一个按钮的位置或颜色——基于对他们来说有意义的东西。他们从未忘记以自我为中心。他们从未积累过任何实质性的产品管理疤痕组织。他们从未学会以客户为中心。

The ultimate goal for product managers and product leaders is to instinctively focus on the customer and not their own egos. This is hard since it is natural to be self-centered and unnatural to be customer-centric. In Scott Belsky’s recently published book “The Messy Middle”, he highlights how we are hardwired to prefer short-term rewards, because delayed gratification causes anxiety and discomfort. Thus, I think the main career-long objective for product managers is to reprogram themselves over time from being self-centric to customer-centric, to get the urge of acting on their own ideas out of their system. Or as Belsky puts it, “to hack their reward system”.

产品经理和产品领导者的最终目标是本能地关注客户,而不是他们的自我拥有。这是很难的,因为以自我为中心是自然的,以客户为中心是不自然的。在斯科特·贝尔斯基(Scott Belsky)最近出版的《混乱的中间地带》(The chaos Middle)一书中,他强调了我们是如何天生偏爱短期回报的,因为延迟的满足会导致焦虑和不适。因此,我认为产品经理职业生涯的主要目标是随着时间的推移重新规划自己,从以自我为中心到以客户为中心,把按照自己想法行事的冲动从他们的系统中清除出来。或者如贝尔斯基所言,“破解他们的奖励系统”。

An important element to achieving this is to be able to build one’s own ideas and see them through, until:


  • you exhaust this urge, which is driven by your ego, and hit rock bottom.
  • 你耗尽了这种由自我驱动的冲动,并跌入谷底。
  • you fail so many times that – as a non-technical PM – you have become technical enough to realize that it isn’t the underlying technology that is responsible for the failed product.
  • 你失败了很多次,以至于——作为一个非技术产品经理——你已经有足够的技术意识到,不是底层技术导致了产品的失败。
  • you experience so much pain from self-inflicted failure that you cannot help but ruthlessly focus on the customer.
  • 你从自己导致的失败中经历了如此多的痛苦,以至于你不得不无情地专注于客户。
  • there is so much frustration with yourself from so many failed products that you physically cannot draw a single wireframe unless it is to solicit customer input – not yet another attempt at pushing your own view of what the product should do.
  • 在这么多失败的产品中,你有如此多的挫败感,以至于你无法画出一幅线框,除非它是为了征求客户的意见——而不是再次尝试推动你自己对产品应该做什么的观点。
  • you are left with the profound realization that it is only about the customer.
  • 你会深刻地意识到,这只与客户有关。

Until that moment, the customer will let you know in so many ways how bad you are as a product manager. Which hurts. Over time, this pain will make you genuinely less and less self-centric, and instead ignite an obsession to only focus on the customer.


This process will be long or short, depending on your personality. People with strong egos typically have a much harder time learning from this experience, but they use their ego later on to be even more customer-centric and more importantly stay that way.


For instance, I know a startup founder, who has been on this journey for close to a decade and still has not come around. He has gone from failure to failure and still thinks that he has all the right answers. He is frustrated, because his customers just won’t listen. I am hopeful he will make the transformation eventually.


It’s similar to the infamous 10,000-hour rule, which requires you to do an activity with focus in order to achieve excellence. Becoming customer-centric requires you to adapt, to have an open mind. Some people can ignore all types of signals and still put their own ego above it all. Be aware of your personality and take known blind spots into account to accelerate your transformation.


Not acting on one’s own ideas is not to say that you should fall back into waterfall mode, and start building things after 12 months of researching customers. Quite the contrary, you should not lose your bias for action, but only act on ideas that are based on the customer.


How to Make the Transformation


In most cases, it is rare to have absolute autonomy in making decisions and to be accountable for them for an extended period of time. Unless you have a great track record as a product manager, you won’t be given this privilege in most cases.


So how do you make the transformation?


There are a number of ways to make this learning experience:


  • Choose your boss and company wisely: It is important for you to recognize and choose product leaders who have gone through this learning experience themselves. Someone who has leveraged this experience, not someone who keeps you from being self-centric by their own self-centricity and delays your transformation. As Belsky’s “The Messy Middle” puts it, “product leaders, who embrace uncertainty, let others experiment”. It is even more important that these product leaders operate within a company, whose culture supports this kind of professional development by creating an environment that is characterized by longevity, autonomy, and accountability.
  • 明智地选择你的老板和公司:对你来说,认识和选择那些有过这种学习经验的产品领导者是很重要的。选一个利用了这段经历,而不是一个自己就是以自我为中心还去阻止你成为自我为中心的人,这会拖延你的转变。正如贝尔斯基在《混乱的中间派》一书中所言,“拥抱不确定性的产品领导者,让其他人去尝试”。更重要的是,这些产品领导者在公司内部运作,公司文化通过创造一个以持续、自主和负责为特征的环境来支持这种专业发展。
  • Start a startup, business or something: Become a (startup) founder of literally anything. It allows you to make decisions and see them through, no matter how bad they are, until there is a reality check, such as running out of funds, customer attrition, inability to hire, etc. All of these strong negative experiences will provide the opportunity to begin the transformation to being customer-centric. However, they are only an opportunity, you still need to seize it.
  • 开一家新公司、生意或别的什么:成为任何公司的创始人。它允许你做出决定并坚持到底,不管它们有多糟糕,直到出现现状核实,如资金耗尽,客户流失,无法雇佣员工等。所有这些强烈的负面体验将为开始向以客户为中心的转变提供机会。然而,它们只是一个机会,你仍然需要抓住它。
  • Work in adjacent job functions: Another great way to begin this transformation is to work in job functions that are adjacent to product management. It could be engineering, design, product marketing, or customer success, as long as it is in an environment that provides the necessary longevity, autonomy and accountability. Facebook, for instance, makes every engineer maintain their own code after it is released.
  • 在相邻的工作职能中工作:开始这种转变的另一个好方法是从事与产品管理相关的工作。它可以是工程、设计、产品营销或客户成功,只要它在一个提供必要的持续、自主性和责任感的环境中。例如,Facebook要求每个工程师在代码发布后维护自己的代码。



Be aware that as you make progress you can relapse at any time. No matter how much progress we make towards being customer-centric, we are always at risk of our ego making us fall back into natural self-centric patterns. So staying humble is critical. This is not to say that you should not draw confidence from the gains you make towards being customer-centric.  While any hard-earned gain can be easily lost, over time it becomes simpler to recover from setbacks.


This is why I am always a bit wary of someone who calls themselves a “product guy” or “product guru”. Whether it implies that some have an innate product gene, or whether they believe that they have achieved mastery and don’t have to worry about losing it, I think it sends a dangerous message to others and more importantly to themselves.


I would like to conclude with a message I heard from Dewitt Jones, National Geographic’s highly acclaimed photographer. While he highlighted several factors that support his success in photography, the following line has stuck with me as inspirational in achieving excellence in product management:


So first we have to train our technique and then we have to put ourselves in the place of most potential. The place where I have the most possibility of finding multiple right answers.


本文》有 0 条评论