(2016-02-12) Norton Product Manager Zero To One
PM Zero – Product Founder/CEO
PM One – First non-founder product manager
PM Two – Multiple product managers
PM Few – Nascent product organization
PM Many – Mature product organization
Going from Zero to One
Product Founders need full reigns prior to finding product/market fit – that’s the single most important priority and anything else is a distraction.
After you get to market you’ll eventually need somebody besides the founder to be the day-to-day steward of the product
Please don’t think this implies that the founder is “handing off” the product.
How will the Product Founder know when it’s time to bring in the first PM?
Usually I discourage them from hiring until they’ve found product/market fit.
Surprisingly, your team may tell you when it’s time, although not in so many words. Here are some signals they’ll send:
“You’re slowing us down.”
“You’re detached from the details.”
“The rest of our business needs you.”
Since it can often take months to find the right person, better to start talking to candidates now than when these symptoms have become painfully acute
The legendary Bill Campbell believes a product manager should be your first hire. In an interview, he said, you need to add “somebody who can really understand the dynamics of what goes on in a marketplace, apply technology to that marketplace, see how the technology can work, and continue to advise brilliant scientists so they can adapt their products to make sure customers are happy.”
Hunter Walk shared his thoughts on when to hire that first PM in Seeking Captain America & Not Captain Crap: Hiring Your First Product Manager: “A company who hires its first product manager runs the risk of seeing its culture and tempo slow.
Steven Sinofsky weighed in on the topic in Hiring Your First Product Manager: “Engineering resources are precious and timelines are always tight—being the founder-pm-bottleneck is no way to iterate your way to product-market fit.”
I think any venture-funded startup should have someone with a core focus of Product Management. If someone is giving you $5,000,000 to build something, to me it makes no sense to say, “OK, we’re giving you this money and you don’t need to have a person who can find the right fit of the technology in the market and bring that together in an efficient way.
Because I’ve seen too many cases where a CTO and a CEO are leading a company, and the CTO really is technical, and the CEO is very business focused, and yet they fail because they don’t understand how to bring those two worlds together and how to bring products to market in a scalable, efficient way.
after the founder and CEO, who would be the first draft pick?
- it depends on what functions they represent. Generally in Silicon Valley they would represent technology.
- Product Management, but somebody who can really understand the dynamics of what goes on in a marketplace, apply technology to that marketplace, see how the technology can work, and continue to advise brilliant scientists so they can adapt their products to make sure customers are happy.