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Knowledge Tree for PMs
and thank you 10 k Subscribers!
There is a famous Urdu couplet by Majrooh Sultanpuri that goes something like this,
मैं अकेला ही चला था जानिब-ए-मंज़िल मगर
लोग साथ आते गए और कारवाँ बनता गया
I asked chatGPT to translate it for me, and it translated it beautifully :) —
"I had started alone towards the destination, But people kept joining and it became a caravan."
Growth Catalyst hit 10 k subscribers recently and the lines express what I have been feeling. Thank you for your love and support 🙏
Over to the topic at hand,
PM is a generalist role, and part of the reason is that the role varies from problem to problem, company to company. So PMs often struggle with how to build the right foundation or fundamentals, standing upon which they can solve any problems they face.
In this post, we are going to discuss about 3 things:
How to arrive at the fundamental skills for PMs
How to stack-rank fundamental skills
How to gain these skills
Let’s start with how to arrive a fundamental skills for PMs.
Fundamental Skills for PMs
If we have to figure out these skills, we have to work backwards from the competencies that good PMs need to have. Here are top competencies PMs are supposed to have across companies,
The competencies are usually judged at entry-level PM interviews as well as in the performance reviews.
At the entry level PM interviews, few of the competencies are more important than others as depicted in graph below. I wrote more around these interview competencies in an earlier issue of Growth Catalyst.
But while many companies don’t assess on every competency in an interview because there is limited time, product operators are supposed to develop them all to be an effective PM and they show up in performance reviews.
Competency - fundamental skill map
To arrive at the fundamental skills, we can break down a competency into fundamental skills needed. For example, leadership in product roles needs communication, negotiation, managing stakeholders, etc.
However, managing stakeholders needs communication and negotiation as well, along with basic knowledge of org and human psychology.
That means stakeholder management isn’t a fundamental skill, but a derived competency.
We can break down all the competencies in this manner and arrive at all the fundamental skills.
Stack ranking fundamental skills: Some are more important than others
Behavioural psychology is a fundamental skill that feeds into multiple competencies — managing stakeholders, product sense, problem solving, execution, etc. That makes behavioural psychology a pretty important skill among others.
Add to that, some competencies like product sense are more important than others since they define the quality of decisions taken by the product manager. So we have to focus more what affects them and give them higher weightage.
Here is the skill-competency map where you can see 12 skills mapped to the competencies
While the above isn’t perfect, it gives a pretty good idea around few things:
Why it’s difficult to master competencies such as product sense. Because many fundamental skills need to come together to create strong product sense.
Why fundamental skills like tech, design, business, data are important. Because they feed into almost all tech competencies. For example, you can do problem solving around tech timelines if you don’t understand tech.
It surfaces somewhat lesser discussed skills like org psychology, behavioural psychology, industry analysis, negotiation, etc.
Where do you start?
You may have few questions at this point — where do I start? How do I start?
You can start with the set of books I am going to share next week. Better yet, I am going to write around these skills one-by-one in this newsletter over the next few months. So be on the lookout :)
See you next week,