Product guys and gals continually face the challenge of describing what “we do.” Even for folks who understand job titles like “product manager,” these positions are typically viewed as required only in more mature and stable companies. And that’s a big “oops.”
While hanging at iPhone Dev Camp DC, with a bunch of developers, I was chatting with Rob Rhyne of Digital Arch, who was one of the camp organizers. Rob is both a developer / designer and we talked a couple of times throughout the night. After a long discussion about one of his very cool (and under wraps) upcoming projects, he finally said, “So, I have your card…and we’ve talked for a while…but what do you actually do?”
I hear that sort of question, in that same fashion, over and over again. I’m sure part of that is related to my need to better communicate my focus…but it also goes back to the fact that I’m not a designer, developer, and for that matter, even a project manager. I’m a product strategist.
Product strategy often gets subsumed into other roles, especially in early stage startups. The results are disastrous with poorly executed but more importantly, bad ideas going to market. When I talk with companies about how I can help them, I often provide a simple example,
“You wouldn’t want the plumber doing your interior design, the mason handling your architecture, or the demo guy running the job. So, why think about your product that way? Your product startup needs a product strategist.”
I threw together a five-minute overview that should help entrepreneurs understand how, in many ways, having a product strategist from the start of their product actually will save them time, money, and most importantly, lots of frustrations. Enjoy.