Product Management in Two Shapes and Two Arrows

November 12, 2019

As a marketer, I’m constantly trying to avoid getting lost in complexity. I’ve gotta understand the nitty gritty, but my success hinges on communicating the essence.

But it’s more than that, because my brain just can’t hold that much complexity at one time. So I’m constantly practicing this skill (as a matter of survival) on everything from new features at work to the way I parent at home.

And everything in between.

Sorta New, Sorta Not
I have heard this term thousands of times, but when asked for a simple answer to “what exactly is product management?”, my brain choked. All I had were regurgitated answers. So I decided to practice this skill one more time.

What I came up with begins with a circle. This represents a market.

Frame 1 (2)

And let’s define the market as the people who you want to buy your product. Speaking of which, let’s represent you product as a square.

Frame 2

Now, a key assumption this diagram makes is:

“Markets are not static. Needs and tastes are always evolving.”

To illustrate that idea of movement, we’ll draw a line.

Frame 3 (1)

But if you market is moving, your product should be too.

The Essence
So the simplest way I’ve found to describe the essence of product management is simply this: make sure those lines match.

Frame 4

With a complex product, it’s easy to get lost in sprints and processes and estimates and roadmaps. But I think this does a pretty dang good job of boiling it down.

  • Work with the market (circle) to understand where they’re going (arrow).
  • Work with your team/product (square) to make sure you’re heading in the same direction (arrow).

Work in PM or marketing or with PM or with marketing? Would love to hear your thoughts.

More updates from my product-management journal:

Hi, I'm Gregg.

I'm a marketer, maker, and long walk taker.


By day I run marketing for resort CRM / ecommerce provider, Inntopia. After the kids go to bed my laptop is my workshop where I'm building an email marketing tracking platform called SendView.