👨💻 The Three Types of PMs
+ Product Lessons from Jeff Bezos
One of the easiest mistakes you can make as a job seeker is to think all PM jobs are the same.
There are totally different types of PMs:
These different types of PMs have different objectives, ways of working, and calendars. Plus, leaders in PM generally specialize in one to advance. So, choosing correctly is important.
Type 1: Core PMs
Core PMs lead the product teams that you traditionally think of. Their ownership is one part of the product. Their northstar is balancing everything for it. They work with consistent stakeholders, but also field requests from other teams for their surface.
Type 2: Platform PMs
These are the PMs building internal APIs, tools, and other enabling layers for other teams. They field requests for their platform all the time across the business. Their north star is balancing everything for the platform.
Type 3: Growth PMs
These PMs do not own a surface or platform. Instead, their north star is to build across the product to move specific metrics, like user growth, or profitability. Rather than fielding requests, they tend to make more requests of teams owning a surface.
Different types of people succeed in different roles. Ask yourself, are you primarily user, capability, or metrics driven?
User-driven —> core PM
Capability driven —> platform PM
Metrics-driven —> growth PM
Specialization pays off in impact and career growth.
Legendary product lessons from Jeff Bezos’s backyard:
One of the best product videos I have ever seen is by the consummate product guy: Jeff Bezos. The man has been inventing products worth hundreds of billions for years. And this video is a gem encapsulating his learnings.
1. Obsess over customers
“When given the choice of competitors or customers, we always choose customers”
Example: When the company was 10 people, the team examined every order that came into Amazon. The first order to not be a family member, the whole company celebrated.
“Anytime we have a problem, we never except either/or thinking.” The team invents products to get them out of any box. Echoing Steve Jobs: since customers won’t tell you everything, the team invents on their behalf.
Examples: EC2: Elastic compute cloud, Kindle
3. Think Long-Term
“It’s actually much rarer than you think.” Most the initiatives Amazon takes on need 5-7 yrs before they yield financial dividends for shareholders. It affords product teams being misunderstood. They endure short-term criticism.
Example: 2-day delivery
4. It’s Always Day 1
There’s always more customer innovation. The team brings the early invention mindset to generate disruptive new products throughout its life.
Example: Alexa 20 years into the company’s life
As Jeff says, “it’s a very short list. It’s complete too.” While just four key principles, teams - indeed, 100,000+ person companies - can continue to push on each each for decades.