bUt iF dEvs aNd desIgnErs dID thEiR jObs tHe wOlrd wOuLd nOT nEed PMs

This is the common criticism for the job of a PM. And yes, I have had a lot of idiots who come to debate with me on whether they could replace me.

It is very easy for me to destroy them. I just have to ask them:

  • As a designer when was the last time you looked at a user lifecycle funnel? Tried to calculate your contribution margin? Figured out next few use cases to expand PMF? Fought with the head of engineering to get you another QA? Planned a dedicated roadmap to improve your bottom line? Wrote a doc on trade offs between 2 different decisions, one that would give you a faster result but add tech debt but another would take time because you would do things in a more scalable way thinking about the next 3 milestones?
  • As a dev when was the last time you looked at bugs/ feedback from users and created a doc with the top 5 ones you want to fix and create a narrative doc on how it would improve customer experience? Sat in like 5 pre meetings to close alignment on an open issue, wrote like a dozen slack messages to set expectations, and then aligned some stakeholder who was vehemently against something you believed in? Looked at your product funnel and identified leakages?

I can go on and on. It is not your fault. The only reason a PM does all of that is because they have to sign up for KRs and map them to initiatives and if they miss their KRs/ deadlines a few times, they get fired. They are accountable for the outcome.

You can call that role anything. But some has to stress about all the things that come with delivering that outcome.

No one enjoys working on a presentation Friday evening so that they can show impact for a project in a Monday morning meeting to execs. But you have to do that anyway as a PM.

Now you can say that you would have done all these things as a designer or a developer if there were no pesky PMs around, but let’s just accept it: no one wants to do the job of multiple people. 

Most people just want to do what they are asked, go home, and watch Netflix with their spouses.

Are all PMs good? Nope. There are so many idiots in this domain who can’t even design a product funnel.

And a lot of PMs play the optics game far more than shipping something that gives results. Everyone knows that. But the presence of mediocrity in a domain does not mean you want to do the job of a PM.

You just say that to earn brownie points. Win tribal games on Twitter. I know this. How?

Because there have been times I have asked people to take on more responsibilities than their JD and almost always people make up excuses. Very rarely they show up to do more. Exceptions do exist but you design your org around the average employee. And this is the reason the PM role will never go away. You might call it by some other name, but it will exist.