The two foundational types of product managers: 👷🏽‍♀️Craftspeople and 👩🏾‍🎨 Creators

👷🏽‍♀️Craftspeople product managers…

These are folks that are really good at taking something existing and making it consistently better. They love creating best version of something through attention to detail and focus. They are experts in understanding existing users.

The👷🏽‍♀️Craftsperson product manager is the main type of PM role you’ll find at a larger company.

I have unintentionally found myself in this role and quickly became disinterested and started doing a poor job. That’s
because I learned the hard way that I’m #2…

👩🏾‍🎨Creator product managers: People that thrive in this role operate best during the product-market fit journey. They excel in unknowns where the main goal is to create something that people will care about, use, and ultimately pay for. These are experts in customer development.
I’ve found the 👩🏾‍🎨Creator PM role prevails in young startups (Series B & earlier). The larger the company, the less often you find this role. Larger companies that aggressively pursue the development of new products (think Atlassian vs. Slack) are more likely to have this role
I’ve seen people enter a PM in the wrong foundational role where they are going to be less engaged and perform poorly. This is not their fault. It’s up to great product leadership to identify which type of PM role any individual would succeed in and put them there.
Just because someone does bad in one of those roles does not mean they are a bad PM. And just because they’ve been an amazing PM in prior roles does not mean they will succeed in either type of PM role. Same deal with the type of company (B2B vs B2C vs D2C vs industry).
There are, of course, situations where people try PM and neither of those roles are going to work for them and that’s okay.

It’s important to know that if you are a PM, you identify which of these you will succeed in based on what you know of yourself and focus there.

Otherwise you may find yourself stumbling and not understanding why (I’ve been there and it sucks).

So – when looking at PM roles or considering going into PM or changing jobs, spend some time thinking about what types of challenges excite you and aim for that.

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