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Product Management Coaching


Please fill in this 2-minute survey. The goal of the survey is to understand how product people learn and improve professionally. The results would be shared in a follow-up post.

- I just finished the SCPO course, what should I do next?
That's the question I've heard many times from aspiring product owners. Everyone who's been in the PM craft for a while knows how lonely this job could be. You have to fight one fire after another with no time to pause and reflect if you're doing the right thing. The situation perfectly described by the following picture:



We are too busy to improve

Looks familiar? How to deal with this problem?

The problem

Any improvement starts with admitting the problem. It's fine to say: "I don't know."
  • I don't know how to get feedback from my customers
  • I don't know how to assess an opportunity
  • I don't know how to sell my idea to the C-level
  • I don't know how to prioritize my product backlog
  • I don't know how to measure the success of my product
  • I don't know how to price my product
  • I don't know....

Solutions

Knowing the problem - how would you fix it?

Self-education

Arguably that is the first thing we try to do. We search for the knowledge to bridge the gap.
Pros:
  • Google knows it all
  • Costs are your time and brainpower
Cons:
  • General knowledge - need to apply it to your context
  • Lacks structure - doesn't tell the full story

Learning by doing

"Just do it" and learn from the experience.
Pros:
  • You learn from failures
  • That's how thousands before you learned
Cons:
  • Your customers are paying for your errors
  • You don't learn from success

Product management training

Structured professional education is one of the best ways to gain needed knowledge and succeed in your job.
Pros:
  • Broad or specific training based on industry best practices
  • Gives you proven frameworks
Cons:
  • Need to apply a framework throughout your organization
  • "My company does stuff differently."

Specialized consulting

An effective way to fill the gaps in your knowledge is to reach for a specialist.
Pros:
  • Fixes a problem here and now
  • A consultant benefits from working with multiple customers
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Knowledge comes and goes together with the consultant

Product Management Coaching

The most effective way to learn your trade as a PM is to have a senior colleague who'd be willing to share her (his) wisdom. Someone who has been there, done it.
Pros:
  • 1-on-1 coaching
  • Knowledge immediately applicable
Cons:
  • A coach needs to learn your context
  • A coach needs to be available when you need and as much as you need
  • For optimal efficiency parties should build trust and rapport
Let's break each point down.

1-on-1 coaching

You talk directly to your coach. Asking questions, discussing outcomes, almost working together. A coach not only helps you to develop certain specific skills but also holds you accountable for following your educational path.

Knowledge immediately available

A coach knows your context. Your company, your product, your market. This means you can apply immediately what you learn. You can discuss what worked, what didn't and what to do next. This doesn't come without the cost. Your coach would need time to learn your context. It would require effort from both parties. If your coach previously worked in your industry, it might help enormously and bring you up to speed much quicker.

Availability

Say you need to give a presentation to the board of your company tomorrow. You need your coach's attention today to help with your preparation. Planning ahead always helps but we know certain things are asap.

Trust and rapport

Coaching in its very essence is the relationships of two individuals. As for any relationships, trust and rapport help to make interactions successful. I've seen several coaching relationships that were strictly relying on accountabilities and formalities. Yet for most cases - getting along did help a lot.

The question

Do we as a product community think the problem of not knowing a certain aspect of our job to be an urgent and pervasive problem? Are we willing to pay for a highly tailored 1-to-1 coaching that would enrich us with the practical knowledge of a particular PM activity? To help you answer - please fill in this 2-minute survey. The results would be shared in a follow-up post.

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Self-education and learning by doing are the most used ways to learn for product people. Product management coaching is a new concept in our field with the majority of product people never had a PM coach. Product management profession lacks structured educational and professional development path defined.