New McKinsey Product Academy aims to hone product managers at scale
As almost every business becomes a software-oriented business, product managers are becoming more and more important. Sometimes called product owners or technical product managers, people in these roles are responsible for many things: shaping a software product around customer needs, pressure testing it for business viability, collaborating between engineering to create the product and work with sales and marketing. commercialize and bring the product to market.
Our latest research shows that approximately 60% of companies across all industries say they view software as a source of competitive advantage or the primary purpose of their business. As companies grow their product management function, they will quickly need to train new product managers (PMs) and hone existing ones. But it is difficult to find effective and accessible training. McKinsey Product Academy is an ongoing, cohort-based speaker series featuring prominent leaders on a range of hot topics.
We spoke with Silicon Valley-based McKinsey Digital Associate Partner Rikki Singh about the launch of the McKinsey Product Academy. The program, which launched earlier this month, has more than 9,000 registrations as of the date of this publication.
What is the McKinsey Product Academy?
McKinsey Product Academy is McKinsey’s investment in empowering the product managers of the future in an inclusive way. On May 13, we launched our Product Academy Fundamentals program, an eight-part speaker series featuring leading voices from the product world. This is an extension of our existing Product Academy Immersion program, an eight-week bootcamp tailored to the needs of an organization.
Why does McKinsey invest in product managers?
We’ve conducted research with over 400 companies and found that product management is key to driving successful business impact from software investments. What we’re also seeing is the rise of product roles, even in non-software or non-traditional technology companies. Think of a retailer using a software transformation as a source of growth, their success relies on mastering the product management role.
By 2025, there will be three to four million PMs in the world, many of them new. And not all of them would come from traditional technological routes. They may move into other roles and move into a PM role because their organization is going through a software transformation. It is therefore essential to perfect and equip these MPs to succeed.
We want to be the premier destination for existing PMs to learn and grow on this journey and for those looking to transition into product management to be able to do so successfully. This is in line with our company-wide mission of sustainable and inclusive growth. Anyone who needs to PM should have an accessible starting point.
People attending Product Academy Fundamentals will come from a wide range of industries. How did you approach the design of the series to meet broad needs?
The fundamentals of building a software product are always the same. There are some nuances that arise in terms of hardware or software, and we adapt according to that. Our primary focus was to cover topics that touch on all aspects of a product’s development lifecycle, from defining product strategy to customer advocacy to building platforms. We then found leaders with hands-on experience to share their expertise and unique backgrounds. Finally, we’ve included topics such as products outside of traditional tech companies and responsible product stewardship to address the broad spectrum of PM.
How will empowering more product managers affect companies and business leaders?
We aim to empower product managers who will lead the charge of the next wave of product management. There are general questions that leaders will ask project managers: how can we become more innovative? How do we ensure that we are supported by our customers and that what we build meets their needs?
Companies must also think about the development of responsible products. How do they, as product managers, create products that consider privacy, sustainability and inclusion? We want Product Managers to work with Product Managers to move the field forward towards these goals.
What will success look like?
Training and empowering over one million PMs over the next three to five years would be our definition of success.
We want to create a community of engaged product managers. This speaker series is just the first wave, so we’ll be gathering feedback and continuing to create and refine future programs to best serve this community. We believe that all companies can manage their products well and should start the journey now.
Want to learn more about how we help software vendors? Contact us please.