James Whitman Product Management Skills & Level Scorings
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Product Management Skills
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Before you start, read this:
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What is this?
The below guide shows the 4 key areas of Product Management that you will build skills and behaviours in across your career.
Once you have completed the sheet, record your scores for each section and keep a record of them (there's a handy second sheet on this document to do that if you wish).
Fill this sheet in blindly once every quarter, not looking at your previous scoring. As you grow your skills, your scores will go both Up and Down.

How do I fill it in?
First clear all the current coloured cells - they'll just have random characters in them and are only there as a visual aid. Then start from the level 1 for each of the skills and start working your way upwards, just put any value in each cell and it will be counted. If you complete 1 level at a certain skill, then move onto the next level and fill it in. Don't move onto the next level unless you feel you are at level 5 within the previous level.

Why would my scores go Up AND Down?

As you grow and understand your strengths and weaknesses, you will see the scores in areas you have grown increase which will reflect your personal development.
Scores should also go down as you become more self reflective and realise that a strength you thought you had may not be as strong as you initially perceived. This is positive - as Product People we need to be self reflective and we may also see that as we invest in one area - we may damage another and that may then need more investment.
The scoring mechanism used in this sheet is a similary used tactic to the Kessler score used in mental health practitioning - which is used to track improvements to mental wellbeing over a period of time.

How do I use this document to learn and grow?

Once fully filled in, the sheet should clearly show you where your current strengths and weaknesses lie. There is no perfect way to grow as a Product Manager as we all have varied background and all work in different organisations so there isn't a perfect 'next thing' to focus on. Instead - look at the areas with the lowest score that are holding you back in your current organisation or Product and think about which would best suit you right now to grow on. Next time you fill this in, your hard work should reflect in your scores.

Want an extra challenge?
Get a mentor or colleague to fill this out for you to reflect where they think you are and compare it to where your own personal scores are. This will help you understand where people perceive you are and understand where others see your strengths and weaknesses.
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Level 1Level 2Level 3Level 4
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Area Score
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DiscoveryQualitative Analysis - You use research and informed customer feedback to understand the customer behaviour and outcomes- You use a range of techniques to understand your customer segment by talking to customers- You repeatedly uses complex techniques to get detailed understanding of your customers behaviours and needs - Able to shape and lead direction on new qualitative methods and lead research within a business, championing the qualitative data produced to feed into business strategy10
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Understand customer needs & product success qualitatively
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Self Assessment Scalexxxxxxxxxx
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Customer & Market Awareness- Your market awareness is informed by others and you understand your market- You are able to use and create assets such as personas to represent your market - You are comfortable exchanging with your customers and are able to distinguish between their needs and wants- You are in regular touch with your customers and use them to lead your Products direction11
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Awareness of your end customers
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Quantitative Analysis - You use quant data to inform on decisions
- You can measure impact using available metrics
- You can shape analytical tasks for others
- You are able to extract key insights for analysis
- You are able to conduct complex analysis unassisted
- Are able top scope new measures of success
- You understand how your KPI's shape and influence your Product
- You can specify complex customer analysis for others
- Can deliver new measurements of success
- You champion your data around the organisation to show what your users are doing
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Understand customer needs & product success quantitatively
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Self Assessment Scalexxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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Product Design- You understand the difference between Products and Features
- You can take an existing idea and adapt it to fit your Product
- Ideas are rapidly validated
- New features significant value
- Can solve complex customer problems
- Able to build features that take advantage of business opportunities
- Ideas are original and innovative
- Can conceptualise complex eco-systems
- New features and Products deliver significant value
- Ideas are transformative, disrupting your industry
- Have mastered how Product Design leads into overall business strategy
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Turning Insights into features
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DeliveryProduct Development- Has a basic understanding of agile principles
- Able to document requirements for consumption by a delivery team
- Utilises Agile methodologies to work with a delivery team
- Able to construct User Stories and acceptance criteria
- Is aware of different types of Agile
- Able to feed into the agile methods used by a delivery team
- Writes high quality user stories with details acceptance criteria
- Understands the relationships between Theme, Epic and User Story
- Product team is actively constructing their own high quality user stories
- Able to employ different agile practices on a best fit case
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Equipping delivery team
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Technology Awareness- You have limited understanding of how systems connect and technological ecosystems work- You are capable of understanding at a high level how software is architectured- You are able to contribute and challenge on technical decisions and technical strategy - You are able to fill knowledge gaps on technology and how to address a technological problem11
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Awareness of how software works
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Product Delivery- Able to create a backlog of work for the team- You maintain and groom a backlog for a team
- Items are prioritised within the backlog
- Backlog is not cluttered with requests that will not be fulfilled
- You feed velocity into your considerations on backlog grooming
- Your backlog tells a clear story of the immediate future
- Stories are structured around epics, themes and objectives
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Supporting delivery team effectiveness
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Bias to Action- If prompted to do so, you are able to work outside of your typical remit (e.g. picking up analysis, wireframing) - Without prompting you fill gaps as you see them and ensure the Product team is unhindered - Able to spot skill gaps well in advance and raise awareness of how this will affect your delivery- You and your teams are very rarely blocked because gaps are plugged prior to them occurring12
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Getting stuff done
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Stakeholder
Management
and
Product
Engagement
Engagement- You can build collaborative relationships with delivery team
- Understands that importance of a close relationship with delivery
- Understands how to motivate and drive a delivery team
- Can build collaborative relationships outside of the team
- Able to communicate on complex ideas
- Able to communicate complex ideas across stakeholders and people at all levels of the organisation
- Others are engaged in your product and direction
- You are communicating 'upwards'
- Without prompting others are taking an interest in your Product
- Able to balance over and under communication across the business
- Utilisies methods such as Show & Tells and demostrations to win awareness within an organisation
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Building collaboration & engagement across a team and within an organisation
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Leadership- You understand the nuances between management and leadership- You are able to lead a product team without using management techniques
- You ask and do not tell
- You are able to effectively lead a group of people through transformation
- You are able to get the best out of your colleagues and in a collaborative manor
- You are a strong Product leader and actively engage and encourage others to grow and developer
- You understand that as a Product wins, its the teams responsibility and if it fails, it is yours
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Acting as a Product leader
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Stakeholder Management- You understand who your clients & stakeholders are
- You are able to understand client & stakeholder requirements
- Stakeholders are aware of what the team can deliver
- Stakeholders are kept aware of the progress on their requirements
- You are able to feed into the requirements of the stakeholders and bring them on board to your strategy- Stakeholders are excited at the future possibilities of your Product
- Stakeholders manage priorities amongst themselves
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Managing key stakeholders & clients across the Organisation
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Vision & StrategyVision- Understands the vision for your Product - Able to contribute to shaping the vision of the product - Can own the development of the vision- Vision for your Product is transformative and drives strategy of the business15
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Forming longer term product visions
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Road Mapping- Understands the roadmap for the product - Can help create a roadmap
- Roadmap set out for immediate future
- Can own the development of a roadmap for team
- Roadmap is kept up to date
- Roadmap is up to date and reflects the problems, opportunities and requirements of the business at any time
- Roadmap tells a clear story of the direction your Product is going in
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Turning visions into plans
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Strategy- You understand the strategy of the business and how your Product helps deliver it - You are able to shape the strategy of your Product to align with wider busiiness objectives and goals - You are able to construct strategy documents to request funding and support to grow your Product
- You understand the Profit and Loss of your Product
- Your Products strategy influences larger organisation strategy
- You are able to strategise and build products that innovate and disrupt in your industry
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Able to define and build strategy across a business
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Author: James Whitman
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@whitmaanwww.whitmaan.comwww.medium.com/@whitmaan
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