Shall I get a product certification? Or a Product Management training/class? Which book do I have to read to become a good PM? 🤔
I get these questions every day, from PMs who are new to the job and from people who’ve been in the industry for some time, including in leadership positions.
Today was no exception, so I packed some of the reflections I shared on this topic over the last months, hoping it can be a way to let others think critically before jumping on product management classes and certifications.
⚠️Disclaimer: This post contains brutal truths that may be harmful or traumatizing to some audiences… especially those selling these training and certifications. Consume at your own risk 😉
Why do people ask?
• More job descriptions ‘require’ a certification
• People feel certifications and training are the only way to progress in their careers
• Certifications and training are a lucrative business: lots of marketing $$ spent to make people aware of them
These are all bad reasons to get one!
Product Management Certifications (and to some extent, training) are a BAD THING for PMs.
• The majority of classes teach “frameworks” that work in a book and are far from reality. They look nice on the screen but don’t really apply in practice.
• Back to work, people come with tons of notions that they want to apply. Paradoxically they become more focused on the artifacts, than on their goals. They quickly lose credibility internally.
• Many PM positions require certifications because the manager didn’t spend the time to spell out what is really needed in the role. so much easier to “require a PO Certification” than to articulate the real “success criteria” for the role.
• As a candidate, fixing this problem by simplifying getting the certification required … is a bad fix! (Small product hint, as a good pm you should be reading between the lines what is the pain behind the request for a certification, and relief of that pain… not just get a certification)
• Many people get interested in training because ‘there is some training budget I can spend’. You deserve more than this, require your leadership to spend time with you coaching on the job rather than “pushing you to a class”.
I know this sounds a bit “extreme”, and some (especially those selling lucrative certifications and training) will disagree and will tell ‘yes but my certification/class is different’. And sometimes it is true, some training are better than others
Important to keep in mind: certifications, classes, and books are a means and not an end
Some ideas for alternative approaches
• Try to get to work on a product where you can learn, hands-on
• Join a company where you get coached on the job
• Learning requires to do mistakes: seek a company that allows you to do so
• Read … but learn new things and apply them in practice iteratively
Originally published on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:7067838491195265024/
My name is Salva, I am a Product executive, helping tech companies discover, shape, and sell better Products. My work and writing are mainly about subscription models, product pricing, e-commerce/marketplaces, and creating top product organizations.
My superpower is to move between ambiguity (as in creativity, innovation, opportunity, and ‘thinking out of the box’) and structure (as in ‘getting things done’ and getting real impact).
I am firmly convinced that you can help others only if you have lived the same challenges: I have been lucky enough to practice product leadership in companies of different sizes and with different product maturity. Doing product right is hard: I felt the pain myself and developed my own methods to get to efficient product teams that produce meaningful work.