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12 Core Competencies For Product Managers

Published: March 20, 2016

Learn. Practice. Learn.

A college student asked me recently about product management and Product Management “skills”. I thought for a bit and sent her this list. The key here is that these skills can be learned and practiced. It isn’t magic. Other things must be learned the hard way.

I haven’t listed things like Agile, scrum, roadmaps, backlogs, user-story writing, etc. You can read a couple books and get the gist. Learning “Agile” in one organization might not help you in your next job. Learning to communicate clearly or facilitate a meeting effectively will serve you for your whole career (in product management, or otherwise).

And with that, a list of 12 core competencies for Product Managers:

  1. Conduct effective customer/user interviews
  2. Build revenue, pricing, and adoption models. Micro/macroeconomics
  3. Experiment design and analysis. Statistics
  4. Effective meeting design and facilitation
  5. Mapping and understanding complex competitive, partner, and customer ecosystems. Complexity and systems thinking. Domain research
  6. Basic data modeling, JSON, XML, working knowledge of relational and non-relational databases. SQL, REST APIs, processing data using Python, etc.
  7. Experience with various analytics tools, and business intelligence tools. Know what you’re looking for, and where to find it.
  8. Broad understanding of usability, usability testing, usability heuristics. Ability to communicate to the user experience team using a common language
  9. Awareness of cognitive biases, and how they impact decision making.
  10. Communication skills: listening, verbal, writing, and visual communication
  11. Effective note-taking
  12. Time-management Any to add? Self-learning success stories?