Pedro Arantes

Article: The 5 Dysfunctions of Product Management Teams

Poor Job Definitions; Under-skilled Product Managers; Poor Processes; Unclear Objectives; Weak Product Leadership.
Zettelkasten, July 9th, 2022.
Reading time: 2 minutesThe Network


The dysfunctions below are more specific to Product Management teams. There're more dysfunctions, but these five are the major ones, according to the author.

1. Poor Job Definitions

It's rare to see clear definitions when it comes to defining the Product Management job. The worst situation is when the team sees Product Managers as glue or gap filler, helping wherever needed.

The lack of a clear job definition makes the Product Managers focus primarily on tactical work, fulfilling urgent requests. They don't focus on strategic work.

2. Under-Skilled Product Managers

There're few formal education programs to develop the skills and knowledge to be a Product Manager, compared with Engineering or Marketing, for example. As the Product Managers don't have any formal or semi-formal training in product management, they must learn it on the job, which can be unstructured.

3. Poor Processes

Product management is a profession that needs process. There are regular activities such as business planning, strategy, customer and market discovery, roadmapping, product planning, and so on. In all of them, the goal should be repeatability and confidence in achieving the desired results.

Many processes created and implemented (or imposed) in companies are flawed. They're often designed to serve managers as opposed to those who are part of the process and doing the work.

4. Unclear Objectives

When it comes to clear, measurable, and consistent objectives for product managers, the answers don't come easily as for sales, marketing, or engineering.

5. Weak Product Leadership

It's quite common to see a Head of Product, VP of Product, or Chief Product Officer who was never an individual contributor Product Manager or led product teams in their career. Their lack of on-the-ground experience will create friction and slow down the team's progress.


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