Hiring a socially motivated product manager

Thanks Google, you really helped me narrow it down

Product manager attributes:

  • Curiosity — you can’t wait to learn about and understand new things
  • All about the problem — you’re obsessive about the problem you’re solving and the people you’re solving it for. You’re an intuitive researcher.
  • Prioritisation — you’re a master of saying “no” and focussing on the right things
  • Predisposed to action — when you see an issue, you don’t sit on your hands, you challenge, you get things done
  • Outcomes focussed — you care about solving problems (outcomes) not on looking busy (outputs)
  • Communication — you can get ideas out there clearly, with the engineer, the designer or the CEO
  • Relationships — you can build strong, trusting relationships, even with people who don’t work in the same way as you.
  • Technology — you understand what can be done now on web and mobile and other platforms and you’re excited about what’s coming next
  • Design — you recognise good design when you see it — you have a sixth sense for what a good user experience looks and feels like.
  • Detail and quality — you ‘sweat the detail’ and do the hard work needed to make something you’ve produced feel easy and elegant
  • Data with empathy — you’re excited about discovering insights in a spreadsheet but you’re quick to relate your findings back to real people
  • People — you can put yourself in others’ shoes and understand things from their perspective (both with your users and with your colleagues)
  • Heart — you care about social issues: they’re the kind of problems you want to solve (this one is specific to us and our work in ‘tech for good’)

Useful experience:

  • You will have worked in agile scrum teams before
  • You’ll have some experience of writing code or hacking together your own ideas
  • You’ll understand the principles of the Lean Startup and how to take a hypothesis based approach to product development.
  • You will have eaten the following roughage (books) for breakfast: The Lean Startup, Sprint, Hooked, Design of Everyday Things, Thinking Fast and Slow

How might we attract socially motivated product people who might not know that they’re product people yet?

The question became ‘which of the attributes identified are the ones that great ‘potential’ product people would most identify with and therefore apply.’

  1. Are there criteria that they would never be able to fulfil due to lack of product experience? If so, cut those things.
  2. What big attributes do all these people have in common? Would they self identify as having those attributes? Make those things the headline themes so that they’re really clear and make these people think “that’s me”.

You love learning:

  • You take an analytical, hypothesis based approach to problem solving.
  • You’re curious and want to understand how things work so that you can make them better.
  • You’re eager to collaborate and learn from different people, from developers to social workers to the vulnerable people we are trying to support.

You make things simple

  • You can breakdown problems and identify where to start in order to quickly deliver impact.
  • You can turn complex ideas and concepts into language anyone can understand.
  • You can translate data and insights into solutions that address real world problems.

You care

  • You build strong and trusting relationships.
  • You’re hands on and willing to do what is needed to help the team.
  • You care about social issues — these are the problems you want to solve.

Some sources of ‘what makes a great product manager’ that I used to make the first draft (there are lots more, obviously — see google)



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Tom Corfield

Tom Corfield

By day: Reducing ocean-bound plastic as VP Product at Cleanhub. By night: antiques geek. Opinions my own, unless account gets hijacked.