The outcome of a successful relationship between a Product Manager and an Engineering Manager is a motivated team shipping a valuable product. Success demands the two work in concert. Insipid problems don’t inspire talented teams, and unqualified teams don’t ship valuable products. There is also a healthy tension between the two roles. Focus on product alone and you get burn out. Oversteer the other way and the product lacks direction.

The health of the relationship between a PM and EM can be evaluated through how well the team is able to:

  1. [Product] Solve the right problem
    1. By understanding what users need
    2. And the market we are operating in
    3. With a vision of the world we want to create
  2. [Product] Through the best solutions
    1. By creating an environment where people have context
    2. Are comfortable sharing ideas
    3. Ideas are high quality
    4. Evaluated on their own merit
  3. [People] With people who have the right set of skills
    1. In adequately funded teams
    2. That have high standards
    3. With access to knowhow about successfully bringing the product to market
  4. [People] And are motivated to solve the problem
    1. Through new challenges that grow their skills
    2. Using processes and tools that enable them to focus on what’s important
    3. In an environment where they can fail safely
    4. With access to coaching
    5. And a culture of continuous improvement through feedback
  5. [People] So that they can succeed in their careers
    1. With mentors to guide career planning
    2. And managers to recognize achievements
    3. Because of which they are promoted to new responsibilities

A sustainable approach to product development accounts for the ambitions of both the product and the individuals. It matters little who on the team takes on each responsibility, what is crucially important is that there is an owner.

How do you approach this relationship? Let’s continue this conversation on Twitter @mbe