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The Marvel Universe versus Product Managers.
This week's topic: Let's explore how some of our favorite Marvel characters can connect to the world of product.
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Recently, I read a few different articles that went really deep on connecting the world of product management to TV shows and movies. I found it a fun take and a nice change of pace compared to the usual AI-centric post we’ve all been seeing over the last few months.
I racked my brain about how I might take a turn and connect the dots. Although my initial pass tied Mad Men to product management - which was fairly straightforward albeit a little dated - I decided to channel my inner childhood fanboy and go deep on how a few of my favorite Marvel characters have the same skills as some of the best product managers.
Let’s get into it.
Vision and Storytelling in Product Management
Product managers, much like Iron Man, need the ability to articulate a compelling narrative around their product or idea. They must be able to communicate their vision effectively to persuade stakeholders and provide clear direction to designers and developers. This skill is especially crucial when PMs lack a design background or don't have access to a dedicated design team.
Want to be more like Iron Man?
Develop storytelling skills to convey a compelling vision for your product, as Tony Stark did with his Iron Man suit.
Use lo-fi mock-ups, process flows, or examples from other products to illustrate desired UX and UI, similar to Stark's holographic interface designs.
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Creativity and Breaking Barriers
Captain America's determination, creativity, and innovative thinking set him apart as a leader. Similarly, product managers often need to think outside the box and develop innovative solutions, especially when working without a design team. This may involve researching design systems, discussing aesthetic preferences with developers, and finding inspiration from other products.
How can you infuse some Captain America into your product life?
Like Captain America, embrace creativity and innovative thinking to develop standout products.
Share examples of desired aesthetics or experiences from other products with your development team, as Steve Rogers did when adapting to modern technology.
Building Relationships and Communication
Black Widow's ability to navigate complex relationships is a valuable skill for product managers. PMs must interact with various stakeholders, including designers and developers, and must be able to communicate effectively to ensure their product's success. By fostering open and consistent communication with developers, product managers can establish a shared understanding and even reach a point where design expectations can be met with minimal upfront guidance.
Want to channel your inner Black Widow?
Cultivate strong communication skills to manage relationships with stakeholders, particularly developers, as Natasha Romanoff did with her fellow Avengers.
Engage in frequent discussions with your team to develop a common understanding and facilitate collaboration, just as Black Widow did to build trust and teamwork among her superhero colleagues.
And finally…the most controversial and hottest take:
Balancing Resources and Prioritization in Product Management
Product managers, much like Thanos, need to make tough decisions when it comes to allocating resources and prioritizing features. They must be able to strike a balance between the needs of stakeholders, the demands of users, and the constraints of time and budget. This often involves making trade-offs, which can be difficult but are necessary for the greater good of the product.
Want to snap your fingers and be a better product person?
Learn to make calculated decisions, just as Thanos did in his quest for the Infinity Stones, to manage resources effectively and prioritize features for your product.
Evaluate the potential impact of each feature or decision on the overall product experience, similar to how Thanos weighed the consequences of his actions.
Embrace the challenge of making tough choices for the betterment of your product, even if it means sacrificing some elements, just as Thanos was willing to make difficult decisions in pursuit of his vision.
In the realm of product management, it's hard not to notice the uncanny resemblance between our daily challenges and those faced by Marvel superheroes. As product managers, we tap into the unique abilities of our favorite heroes, tackling obstacles with creativity, determination, and courage.
We can learn something from the Marvel universe – from Iron Man's compelling storytelling to Captain America's innovative thinking, Black Widow's adept communication, and even Thanos' approach to balancing resources. So, as we navigate the twists and turns of product management, let's remember the heroics of our beloved characters and apply their wisdom to create products that save the day – or at least make users' lives a little easier.
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