At my old job, since I spent a lot of time thinking about how our users actually, uh, used things, I kept finding myself in product development discussions. Once, our general manager pulled me aside and said, "You know, if you had any formal business training, you would be dangerous as a product manager."
Cool. What's a product manager?
At first blush, "product management" sounds like the sort of job geeks run from, but I don't think that's necessarily the case. Ken Norton defines it this way:
Product management is a weird discipline full of oddballs and rejects that never quite fit in anywhere else. For my part, I loved the technical challenges of engineering but despised the coding. I liked solving problems, but I hated having other people tell me what to do. I wanted to be a part of the strategic decisions, I wanted to own the product. Marketing appealed to my creativity, but I knew I'd dislike being too far away from the technology. Engineers respected me, but knew my heart was elsewhere and generally thought I was too "marketing-ish." People like me naturally gravitate to product management.
Huh. I actually think that sounds pretty cool. Could I be a closet product manager? And what's this "formal business training" thing all about? Do they make you get that before they let you be Head Geek in Charge of Not Sucking?