talent[1]

From Marty Cagan’s book, Inspired.

I listed out the traits of a good product manager in a previous post. After reading the list of traits and skills, you may be thinking that such people are extremely rare. Good product managers are a rare breed.

There are different schools of thought on recruiting product managers. Many companies think that all you need is someone from the marketing organization or someone with an MBA. In the old school definition of product manager, this may have been true, but today this is a recipe for failure.

Many companies prefer MBAs from top business school who have a technical undergraduate degree combined with applicable industry experience. This can work well if you keep in mind that a consistent problem with MBA programs–even from the top tier schools– is that they almost never teach product management, so it is dangerous to assume that the recent MBA grad has any idea how to be a product manager.

The best source for product managers is to look for people with the characteristics described above and then use training, an informal mentoring program, and/or a formal employee development program to develop these people into strong product managers. Such people might be found virtually anywhere in the company. Some of the outstanding product managers come out of engineering, user experience design, customer service, professional services, product marketing, sales, and the user community. Often these people will approach management asking how they can get more involved in the product. It can also be useful for senior management to approach top performers from across the company about the possibility of product management, as this can be essential experience for those on an executive track.