Product Management Resides in the Problem Space

Question: "In the training we had learnt the second PMTK foundation rule of ‘Product management resides solely in the problem space'. However, I find that this statement is simply impractical when matched with reality. Please comment."

Answer: People may view the second Product Manager's Toolkit® (PMTK) methodology foundation rule as theoretical or impractical in light of their own subjective observations and experience. From a methodological and functional perspective, PMTK's second foundation rule is not only profoundly practical but imperative. This is because the solution space is a bottomless pit of tactical activities and technical details which will completely monopolize a person's focus.

Accordingly, the crucial strategic activities in the problem space (creating a true Market Requirements Document (MRD), Business Case, etc'), which later affect all activities in the solution space, will not be properly performed if the person also has to deal with responsibilities in the solution space.

Gravitating skills is a dominant occurrence when mixing roles and a factor to consider. This means that people will naturally devote more time and effort to doing whatever they are more comfortable and natural with, effectively neglecting the other assigned roles. For example, a technically-minded person will prefer writing product requirements even though assigned both the product planner and product architect roles.

When mixing roles from either the problem or solution spaces, the roles in the solution space will dominate because the individual often does not have enough details on the market problem and because the solution requires documenting many details and constant interaction with the engineers.

The best guideline to follow when combining roles is to have all the roles that are being combined belonging to one space only. Do not mix and assign individual roles from both the problem and solution spaces. For example, a product planner and product marketer role combination (only the problem space) is better than a product planner and product architect role combination (both the problem and solutions spaces).

The Blackblot PMTK Methodology™ foundation rules are:

  1. Product management is comprised of product planning and product marketing.
  2. Product management resides solely in the problem space.

BBlackblot Product Management Domain