“A great product manager has the brain of an engineer, the heart of a designer, and the speech of a diplomat.”

Deep Nishar, former VP of Product & UX at LinkedIn

It seems the product management discussion will not subside any time soon. Initially, we had a Product Manager vs. Product Owner schism; recently, we have a debate about the role of Product Marketing and possibly Design, which Airbnb’s Brian Chesky rekindled with his statements at Figma’s user conference earlier this year (see this WR).

Let me weigh in by introducing a few simple diagrams that have been part of our standard product management deck since we founded go3consulting more than ten years ago (three of our four founders – including myself – had worked in product functions at Apple at some point in their careers).

To start with, for a product to be successful, it must balance human needs, technical feasibility, and positive business impact. Failure to achieve this balance will result in the product’s failure.

Consider this: If a product idea has a potential business impact and the necessary technology to create it exists but fails to address a human need, it will likely fail due to a lack of customers. Similarly, if a product meets human needs and is technologically viable but cannot be turned into a profitable business, the product or company will eventually cease to exist (think Twitter). Finally, if a product fulfills a great need and has the potential to be a successful business, but the required technology is not quite there yet, customers will quickly abandon it.

This means that whoever manages a product needs to cover these three bases to start with:

Desirability: How does the product or feature help fulfill some needs, improve the job to be done, and impart a positive experience to the user?

Feasibility: Can the product or feature be built with the technology available with reasonable effort and in a reasonable time?

Viability: Does building and maintaining the product or feature make business sense? Does it contribute positively to business and financial objectives?

Since products don’t exist in a vacuum, there are three other significant areas to be considered:

Market & competition: Is there a sufficiently large customer potential? Is the new feature or product on par with the competition, or does it stand out?

Communication: How will customers discover and buy the new product?

X-functional Tasks: Does the product or feature meet legal and compliance standards? How will it be supported? Etc.

These „six forces,“ as we at go3consulting refer to them, drive all products. This illustrates that Product Management is a complex task. Over the past decade, as the industry and we have kept learning, we have accumulated more knowledge.

If you want a concise view of the current state of the art, watch this video. I have used Bing Chat with GPT-4 to create a synopsis of materials from leading product thinkers and turned it into a brief Product Management Intro video using Vyond Go (this is 100% AI generated!).

This translates into the following working definition of Product Management that we use at go3consulting:

Product Management delivers measurable business results by translating stakeholder needs and company strategies into a product vision, objectives, and product initiatives that yield products meeting both stakeholder needs and company objectives.

Over the past few years, a somewhat canonical view of roles involved in managing products has evolved, as illustrated in the table below:

This “product trio” (or „pod“) as it is commonly referred to, works in its ideal incarnation as a collective continuously experimenting, learning, and evolving the product, managing the four product risks and balancing the „six forces“ to delight users and drive business results.

While this is an ideal that many native digital enterprises have implemented, organization or company history, capabilities, or resource availability often will force tradeoffs or deviations from this ideal.

Still, it is crucial to understand that product management is a comprehensive and holistic task that should not be split into separate responsibilities such as Business Owners and Product Owners. Such an approach would result in less than optimal outcomes, with Product Owners often becoming mere feature backlog administrators.

It’s positive to observe that newer approaches to the agile Product Owner role are now more closely resembling product management definitions. You can watch the video linked here, which I created using a method similar to the PM video above, to get a better understanding of it. However, the fact that the Product Owner is still regarded as the „bridge“ between Scrum teams and the outside world implies a limited view of Scrum teams that can lead to them being downgraded to feature teams quickly.

Whatever your organization structure, the four product risks and the „six forces“ must be addressed holistically for product success. Let us know if you would like some help optimizing your setup!

For now, here are some more insights

It’s time to value your product!

Willem-Jan Ageling’s recent call to break up agile silos and organize around products

Click to view!


The article features an old but still handy view of product management by Roman Pichler.

Click to view!

Alternatives To Product Managers

Marty Cagan weighs in on the recent product management role discussions.

Click to view!