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We all own the product, but you are accountable

Welcome to a day in a product manager's life. Let's moan a bit. Here are you arriving in the office seven minutes late of your usual time. You catch a "look" from your over-eager junior colleague and get to 100+ messages that await you.



Here's the latest NPS report. A lot of fives and not enough promotors. You dig into comments and see your customers complaining about the things you have in your roadmap for a while.
- I know, I know, - you murmur, - if only I'd have two more developers.

What's next? Board meeting notes. Oh no. Did they change the objectives again? You read on and discover something even more disturbing. Your CFO just returned from the high profile client's meeting. He brought in ideas. You take a deep breath.

The head of support comes to have a word. She tells you about the issue they're struggling with. You show where it sits in your backlog. The next ten minutes you have to spend explaining why other things have higher priority.

Oh, designers shared a new prototype. You have a look and your heart starts to race. They went with a total re-design. You try not to swear, loudly. Then you put on your diplomat hat and go to describe all the constraints of this project.

- Where did the morning go? - you think heading for lunch, you gave yourself a promise not to eat in front of your screen this month.
You meet your lead develop at lunch. You talk work and the latest tech trends. He moans about Scrum and wants to try this new shiny methodology he has just read about. You nod politely trying not to think how'd explain velocity drop to senior management.

In the afternoon you have a call with a customer. They didn't show up. For the third time. You write even more polite email to re-schedule.

Later, it's your team's meeting. You review last quarter's stats. Churn is on the rise. You jump right in. Two hours pass without noticing and you haven't touched any agenda items yet. You panic inside but keep your best poker face up.

It's past 6 pm now, you finally ready to wrap up your day. As the last effort of today, you open the latest interview your CEO gave. She talked about the company's past and future. The interviewer asked about product vision. You're ready to read the pitch you've been working on in the last five strategy meetings. Instead, your eyes start to hurt.
- Where did this come from? - you wonder in disbelief.
You shut down your PC and finally leave the office questioning all your life choices.

A little fact no one told you about

Everyone owns your product, but you are responsible for its success. Surprise! Welcome to product management. You don't own your product. Customers own your product. Executives own your product. Engineers, marketers, finance, support, design... they all own your product. And you? You are responsible for its success and all you can do is to manage it to the best of your abilities.

Relax, it's gonna be fine... or not

Why is it useful to remember you're not the sole owner of your product? Few reasons.

Humility, for one 

Your powers are limited, accept it and you might avoid the burnout.

A relative peace of mind

Yes, you are accountable for your product. That's just in your job description. But remembering you're not the only one working on the product could help you to worry less about powers beyond your control. (spoiler alert: there always be more things beyond your control than otherwise)

You're easier to deal with 

By equally respecting all other people who work hard on your product - you instantly become more popular and easier to work with. And that's what you want. It gets much easier to run a successful product when peers don't hate each other and actually pulling in the same direction. And if you can gently set the direction - you're on the right course for product success. 

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