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I was able to arm-twist our editing staff to allow me to write this article from a first person’s perspective, since our monthly articles typically follow a consistent format.  So the question of the day is – Do you think you are an effective product manager?  Does your personality/style/ambitions predispose you to have a successful career in product management?

I just got back from PMEC (Product Management Education Conference) in San Jose.  While my brain is still buzzing with the knowledge consumed in the last couple of days, I’m physically ready to implement a few great ideas bestowed by the industry experts.  I have learned some time ago to jot down no more than 10 actionable takeaways from any conference.  Anymore than that compromises my ability to follow through.  This year’s conference was particularly interesting as the topics spanned from all aspects of social media to how anthropology relates to consumer insights in driving competitive advantage.    Attendees weathered through the daunting topic of internet security, only to be deflected by a lively discussion on effective team dynamics.

In team dynamics, Camille Smith of Work in Progress Coaching took us through a journey of recognizing our professional ambition and leadership styles.  The tool we used in the workshop was “DISC-on-steroids,” as Smith called it, a combination of the DISC approach plus an additional portion on Ambitions.  A discussion that typically follows an assessment like this is how we can utilize this information to assign roles/responsibilities, to improve team communication and to resolve conflict and performance issues.  Though these are all very important byproducts of an exercise like this, we also got a surprising twist.

As Product Managers, have you ever thought of the idea of a “best fit” in terms of style and ambition that makes one product manager innately more successful than the another, or have a “better chance” of reaching the higher rank?  Is there a “gold standard” of what a successful product manager should possess?  Is this person more deliberate, more interactive and more stable in nature . . . or someone who’s highly creative, more altruistic and individualist?  If you don’t fit this profile, does that mean you are doomed to fail?  Or perhaps you will be happier in a different profession?  Should this be part of everyone’s self actualization process?

I think this makes for fascinating water cooler conversation.  .   . okay perhaps not, but  I do believe it does make for good research, so I was delighted to hear that Camille Smith in partnership with AIPMM, is embarking on this project.  I am hopeful that this research will positively impact the Product Management profession and related disciplines.  Perhaps this will turn the tide so PMs are no longer coined “misunderstood?”

Jenny Feng

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