What's your mandate, and who's ready to carry it out?

I've been doing a fascinating set of interviews with the successful heads of product management and product marketing organizations. Since the topic is, "Tell us your best practices," the interviews are the perfect occasion to probe many issues that vex people in this profession.

Whenever we got to the part about running a PM team, I inserted a question about the type of person who makes a good product manager. As seen in some of the research I did last year, product managers come to the profession from a motley collection of previous jobs. (No surprise there.)

However, it's clear from these interviews that the people who run PM departments are pretty unhappy with this state of affairs. Frequently, they've taken deliberate steps to fix it.  Sometimes, this means an agonizing reappraisal of whether the people in the team today have all the skills and experiences they really need.

Of course, that presumes the senior directors and heads of PM organizations have a clear mandate, which then implies a certain kind of person capable of doing the job. There's more clarity about the job than I had expected to find. Perhaps that's why these people are successful in the first place: they and their company have arrived at a specific set of responsibilities and deliverables, instead of a murky concept of PM like, "Go be a champion for your product."

[It's Friday, it's sunny out, so I'll stop there, for now, and come back to this topic later. Meanwhile, enjoy the weekend.]

[Cross-posted at The Heretech.]