The scope of your product

If you want to be a bad product manager, define the scope of your product as how you see it. After all, you’re a product manager, right? You’re not a supplier manager, or a vendor manager, or a promotion manager. You can’t be held responsible if the free gift you offer with your product breaks within the first week.

It’s not your fault if your program won’t install correctly on computers with certain virus software. How are you supposed to know when a partner website changes their design without notifying you so that all your links to them break. In cases like this the best only thing you can do is just let customers know it’s not your fault and tell them to whom they should be complaining.

If you want to be a good product manager, define the scope of your product as how the market sees it. You know where the internal boundaries are; you know who is responsible for what within the company and probably who dropped the ball on something outside of the “official” scope of your product. You need to forget all of that. What really matters is the scope of your product from the point of view of the customer.

Everything that the customer experiences in relationship to your product is ultimately your responsibility. Delays fulfilling a rebate may technically be because of mistakes made by the company handling the payment processing, but it reflects badly on your product. Broken links from your website to another may be because of changes the other site made, but customers perceive it as a problem to your site.

It’s very easy to draw the line and say that certain things are outside your control. That’s a short-sighted approach, though. Ultimately, those within the organization and outside it will look to you when these types of issues arise, and for the overall good of your product (and your career) you need to step up and take responsibility.