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Pragmatic Marketing Foundations

My first stop on my tour around the world is San Francisco. I'd forgotten how beautiful this city can be, and how awesome the vibe is here.

The first jobby thing I've done was to take on the one-day Foundations course in product management as part of the Pragmatic Marketing program.

The course is a great introduction to the fundamentals of product management. It covers the basics of the strategic side of things, focusing mainly on qualifying market problems and positioning.

I really like their framework for product management. To be fair, I've experienced it before - the inimitable Peter Haywood used it when we worked at QOIPR to help manage the product side of things. The point they make, is that provided you've validated your market problems, and have undertaken positioning, the day-to-day activities to the right of the framework will be a lot easier to get done.

There is a strong emphasis on validating our product through meeting with your market. I love that they suggest that a KPI for solid project management is the number of meetings you have with companies - especially with recent evaluators for the purpose of undertaking win/loss analysis, and with potentials who don't necessarily have the same problem(s) for validating or pivoting your product. It reminds me a lot of Steve Blank's startup management framework.

There is one strange thing, though. They advocate the common approach to thinking of the product manager as the "CEO of your product", but the idea that the product manager is responsible for the profit of the product is actively discouraged. The rationale is that as a product manager, you generally don't have control over many of the activities that generate profit (specifically, Sales and Marcomms), and in fact act in a support capacity there. Putting profit as the major KPI for the product manager is dangerous according to this view, as it means you spend your time focused on sales and less on making a solid product.
I think it's a valid point, to a degree. At the same time, somebody should be responsible for the overall health of the product. From a business perspective, the quality and health of the product will be judged based on how well it sells. I get that product management isn't just about sales, but if you're the CEO of the product, then you're ultimately responsible for its health (even if you don't do the activities yourself).

It's a minor quibble, though. I'm proud to have 'Pragmatic Marketing Certified - Level One (PMC-I)' on my CV.

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