Product managers (also known as product owners in organizations following the Agile Scrum methodology) are responsible for driving a product strategy that delivers value to the business and users. Ideally, they should understand the importance of user research. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the reality.
Product designers hold responsibility for ensuring that products address real user needs and are usable. This title is an increasingly common catch-all term for UX designers who have broad expertise in research and design skills, with a particular area of specialty. Product designers usually have a keen awareness of business strategy, as they should be able to connect design improvements with business impact.
Often, product designers can be disconnected from product managers. They may receive a design assignment and be expected to come up with a mockup, with little context or communication in-between. They will often have to prove their value to their product managers, earn trust with them, and then use their strengths to influence them.
Collaboration between product managers and product designers commonly breaks down because of role misconceptions on both sides. We propose a product-owner archetype, meant as a starting point for clarifying misconceptions about product managers and improving collaboration, trust, and influence with product managers.
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See also: UX