Product managers: don’t play favorites with methods and techniques

While reading this great interview with the band CHVRCHES I came across a passage that struck me as a good description of how product managers should work. They describe the producer on their latest album like this:

And I think that’s why he’s so good at what he does. He’s not a kind of producer that has one thing that he does and he tries to make every artist do that thing. He steps into the room and tries to figure out the people that are in it and figure out the music they’re making, and then how can he add something to that and offer wisdom and guidance and make it better.

We all have methods and techniques we gravitate towards: Jobs-to-be-Done, Agile, customer journeys, sticky notes… It’s totally fine to have favorite methods that we know inside out and that have worked well in the past. But it would be a mistake to force one of our favorites on a team when it’s not the right thing for them.

One of the most difficult things a product manager needs to do is first understand how a team works and what makes them effective, and then figure out which methods and processes can create the right environment for them to thrive. That’s the skill that sets apart the great product managers from the good ones.