What a Project / Product Manager Does

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In my career I have been a project manager, a web producer and a product manager. All have one thing in common — the need to shepherd the details of process and people to accomplish a goal.

I ran across this humorous job description which sums it up pretty well…

What does a Project Manager DO?

  • To decide what is to be done;
  • to tell somebody to do it;
  • to listen to reasons why it should not be done,
  • why it should be done by somebody else,
  • or why it should be done in a different way;
  • and to prepare arguments in rebuttal that shall be convincing and conclusive.

And then:

  • To follow up to see if the thing has been done;
  • to discover that it has not been done;
  • to inquire why it has not been done;
  • to listen to excuses from the person who did not do it;
  • and to think up arguments to overcome the excuses.

And then:

  • To follow up a second time to see if the thing has been done;
  • to discover that is has been done incorrectly;
  • to point out how it shall be done;
  • to conclude that as long as it has been done it might as well be left as it is;
  • to wonder if it is not time to get rid of the person who cannot do a thing correctly;
  • to reflect that in all probability any successor would be just as bad, or worse.

And finally:

  • To consider how much more simply and better the thing would have been done had he done it himself in the first place;
  • to reflect satisfactorily that if he had done it himself he would have been able to do it right in 20 minutes and that as things turned out, he himself spent two days trying to find out why it is that it has taken somebody else three weeks to do it wrong.
  • To realize that such an idea would have a very demoralizing effect on the project team, because it would strike at the very foundation of the belief of all employees that a project manager has nothing to do.

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