A Praxis Approach to Product Management
Published writing on Product Management by Mikal Lewis
- What is Product Management (2 essays)
- Product Management is a Craft (post)
- The Journey to Product Management Mastery is Through Apprenticeship (post)
- The Job of Product Management (2 essays)
- My Product Philosophy (Medium article)
- The Courage to Take Risks (February 2023) new
- The Job of Product Leadership (not yet written)
- About Mikal Lewis
- Power Theory
- Industry Trends and Analysis
- Case Studies
- Why Case Studies.
- Apple in the Aughts: Mastering the Turnaround (blog post)
the product myth
There is a myth that a great product is all it takes to win. That myth is furthered by the idea that the job of Product Managers is to create great products when great products are the byproduct, not the aim.
The aim is to compete. By competing, an offering compel buyers, end-users, competitors, suppliers, partners—to adapt to, or adopt your hypothesis about the future. A great product that doesn’t compete is a fleck in the dustpan of history or an artifice in a museum.
However, it’s not the product that competes in a marketplace; it’s the company. Product teams, alongside sales, marketing, and customer service, are all on the same side team—on the field competing for customer attention, affection, and money.
As product managers, we play an essential and high-leverage role in that success, but while our impact is often measurable it is not sufficient.
I’m Mikal, a product leader with experience competing in industries ranging from e-commerce, operating systems, media, productivity, and web browsers—from web to desktop as well as mobile apps.
I believe in empowered product teams working with the company’s strategy to deliver value to our customers and the world.
I describe my approach to product management as a “praxis approach to Product Management”—it favors what works in the real world, over the theory. It recognizes that every company culture is different, and odds are—unless you’re at Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, Google—that your day to day product management experience differs quite a bit from what they write about in the books.
And this is my blog outlining a praxis approach to product management.
This Blog is an Unfinished Book
This blog is an unfinished book. This statement is true whether you’re reading this in 2023, or 2027. The product management practice and practice of putting compelling software in the world is ever changing—as is my ability to articulate the ideas, beliefs, and practices that guide myself and my teams.
I’ve written a book before, an internal book on the PC ownership experience. That book came together rather linearly—I set out to cover the PC ownership experience from pre-purchase to abandonment. The ownership journey itself provided structure to the book, and I filled in to the best of my ability with the research that told the story.
Product Management is a different topic altogether for me.
When I engage in the topic of product management it feels deeply personal to me, and at the same time like a game of hop scotch. When I’m in a product review—I’m also coaching about how to run a meeting, product strategy—and storytelling.
My personal blog, MikalFM.com, reflects my spontaneous approach, covering a broader swath of life.
I engage with topics as they come to me. All intermingled through lose, tight, couplings to form a theory of product management. A theory that reflects my belief that my purpose on this earth is to advance good, and that it of course should come out in my craft, how I lead teams, and how I am led in turn.
This unfinished book will start out as a group of topics—over time, I’ll add essays, thoughts, case studies, and chapters under each topical grouping. I’ll draw inspiration from coaching, life, profession, personal reflection and interest.
The themes intertwine to form Praxis Product Management—what it is, and how to incorporate it into your personal, team, or company’s product management journey.
A core tenet of Praxis Product Management is that for most problems there are multiple right answers. The Praxis approach is is no different.
Not every concept will fit every situation, and there are lots of great ideas and documented thinking on product management in print and online. Where Praxis differs from your favorite book or product leader, please consider Praxis as just another “right answer” for you to consider and adopt as your situation warrants.
The core premise of the praxis approach, is that your primary aim is to create good into the world and that one of the ways you do this is through your professional pursuits—in this case product management.
In short, product management is a path for you to deliver good to the world.
If this core premise doesn’t sound agreeable, this blog likely won’t either, but if it does, thank you in advance for joining this journey.
Mikal, February 2023