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Assuming you operate in an environment that has adopted Agile, you likely have come across the Minimum Viable Product concept. For those not familiar with it, I’ll let you do you own research … but at the risk of over simplifying, it is the balance of introducing the right capabilities (meets customer needs) at the right time (iterating quickly).

But really, this post has nothing to do with the MVP itself … if you will indulge me with a few minutes of your time and the remainder of this post, you will see how it may provide a sound approach to looking at skill-sets within Product Management.

I had the privilege of sitting with several leaders from the Atlanta area yesterday morning during a Roundtable Breakfast event hosted by the Product Management Executive Board.  The purpose of the meeting was to discus a broad array of topics focused on managing within the product management domain.

One of the reasons I love attending events like this is that affords me the opportunity to take a step back and gain perspective … rarely are the challenges I face in my role unique to me or the company I am in.  One of the topics that came up during our time together was especially encouraging, and it centered on hiring expectations associated with filling Product Management positions … the operative word here being expectations.  Let me elaborate.

Anytime we look to fill a Product Management role, the reality is we are looking for the perfect fit … someone with a multi-dimensional skill-set across all of the following:

  • … someone who has expertise within the domain (vertical market), with the technology, as well as with acumen from a business perspective
    • my own experience suggests that you can start with technology and learn the domain or vice versa, but …
    • PMEB data shows that 81% of candidates lack business acumen
  • … someone who can blend strong analytic capabilities (aggregating insights from multiple inputs) with a creative mindset that can tie it all together into a compelling story/vision
    • yet PMEB data shows that 76% of candidates lack the ability to formulate market insights
    • and my own experience suggests that the ability to understand distinctive competence and creatively position/message the value proposition is also a limited skill-set
  • … someone who strategically sees the big picture but also has the ability to focus on the details needed to tactically execute
    • yet PMEB data shows that 77% candidates of candidates lack strategic planning skills

The subsequent discussion and conclusions among the participants suggested that while people can be taught, finding a single person who matches all of the criteria (considering candidates) or who excels in all of the criteria (consider existing employees) was extremely rare indeed.

And thus was born the concept of The Minimal Viable Product Manager. What do you think?  What is the minimum skill-set that we should be expecting/looking for in a Product Manager?