Product manager or evil overlord?

I had a good chuckle at this paragraph on the SugarCRM web site:

The Sugar Open Source Project and Community are at the heart of our mission. Creating an ‘architecture of participation’ where users from around the world can help to build a higher quality, more useful product is a superior form of development than the traditional Silicon Valley model of a few product managers dictating what features the world needs. The open source model embraces the world outside of Silicon Valley instead of keeping it at arm’s length.

If you ever doubted that there's a difference between product management and marketing, doubt no more. Memo to the marketing person who wrote this copy: some product managers might dream of having dictatorial powers, but, honestly...

[On the off chance that you have the power to mold people's wills to your own, call me. I might get you a part as the villain in the next Bond movie.]

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re: Product manager or evil overlord?

To be honest, I find it laughable to think that Product Managers are viewed as dictatorial, especially in light of the fact that it is so difficult for the Product Manager to find solid ground within many corporate structures. There are certainly Product Managers who are aggressive in managing their products, and I have been known to state that, "Product decisions are not made by a democracy," but the same could be said of Sales or Engineering. It all depends on the personalities of the individuals within the organization.Don't get me wrong, I'm a proponent of open source software; both my blog and my products contain open source code, but there is a distinct difference between software that is developed by an organization with a Product Manager who is responsible for guiding the product to success (or maintaining a path of success) and one that plays to the whims of the majority (or vocal minority).It would be easy to have users or a community rate features and capabilities and then just add the ones with the highest number of votes, but ultimately, that leads to a product which is bloated and unfocused. It's the responsibility of the Product Manager to identify the market needs AND match them with the goals of the product and/or organization. The sum of features and capabilities might be better suited as separate products or not at all, but that's not a conclusion that a product democracy would likely come to.