Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What to Prioritize and Develop?

Welcome to our Product Newsletter, a biweekly email highlighting top discussions, and learning resources for product managers.

What We Will Cover In This Edition:-

Top Discussions: 

1) Which ones to concentrate and develop? Hard skills or Soft-skills?

2) For things that we already know, my company is hiring external consultants.

3) Do you think the current recession will end? When?

Top Learning Resources:

1. Product-led Onboarding: How to Turn New Users Into Lifelong Customers

2. Products and People

3. Using Multiple Digital Analytics Platforms


Top Discussions

Question 1Which ones to concentrate and develop? Hard skills or Soft-skills?

How can product managers improve their hard skills since products are primarily composed of intangible soft skills? Being the brains is nice, but as PMs, most of us frequently fall into the trap of not ‘doing’ the work, and as a result, we don’t truly acquire any unique skills.

What would those skills be, then? How are these skills developed? Where can we use them? When is the best time to prioritize those hard skills above soft skills?

– Jonathan Tessa


A] Being at ease when under pressure and having quick thinking are not particularly “hard” skills, but they are abilities that you could develop with training and practice. I am frequently called upon to give challenging corporate presentations or to speak with an irate customer. My peers and managers have acknowledged it as a skill throughout my career. And it’s a skill that truly stands out if you work in a sea of technical introverts, making me a valuable asset to any team, regardless of the industry or job function.

– Herbert Warnick

B] I concur.
I want to master this skill. To do this, I recently joined Toastmasters. Do you have any recommendations for more effective ways to hone this skill? I would suggest seeking out mentors or joining industry-specific professional organizations. These can provide valuable guidance and opportunities for growth. They can also offer networking opportunities and access to resources that can further enhance your skills.

– Matthew Shun

C] Although I can’t seem to find any publications discussing commercial literacy for product managers, I am undoubtedly interested in learning more about it. In my opinion, what distinguishes PMs from other tech professions is their understanding of how businesses work. We must communicate with everyone and have a basic understanding of everything. This broad knowledge base allows us to effectively coordinate and lead cross-functional teams, ultimately driving successful business outcomes and adapting to changing market conditions. Ultimately, driving successful business outcomes and adapting to changing market conditions are crucial for achieving long-term success and growth.

– Marco Silva


Question 2) For things that we already know, my company is hiring external consultants

Senior leadership has hired several consultants in place of giving us more resources to provide the features that we know would enhance the system. I’ve been sitting in on these consultants’ requirement gathering seminars so that I can “observe.”

Has anyone dealt with this before? I’ve spent over six hours in workshops listening to consultants ask pretty basic questions about the company to get a rudimentary grasp of it, then consumers request features that we’ve known about for two years. They then hear from the consultants that such proposals are excellent ones.

I’m making an effort to look at the bright side of things. Even though the consultants are merely presenting them information that we already know, perhaps the senior leadership team will still pay attention to them? I suppose that’s beneficial if it still leads to more resources being used. However, it was a frustrating experience.

– Dave Kim


A] The decision to hire someone external to deal with the situation is a reflection of their lack of faith in their own team. If they are truly providing you with information you already know, the leadership is definitely the problem here because they don’t appear to trust their own employees.
They may also require a fallen hero, which is another alternative. They might be getting into a political mess, and they need some outsider to take the brunt of it.

– Mario Romero

B] This could potentially create a toxic work environment and hinder collaboration within the company, leading to negative impacts on productivity and employee morale. It is important for the company to address the situation promptly and find a solution that promotes a healthy and supportive work culture. This will ultimately contribute to a more positive and efficient working environment, resulting in higher productivity and overall success for the company in the long run. By prioritizing employee well-being and fostering positive relationships among colleagues, companies can create a culture of collaboration and mutual support. This culture can lead to a more cohesive and motivated workforce.

– Jesus Rojas

C] That’s the key idea. It’s always a political issue when it comes to consultants. They have to spend a lot of money on someone with a fancy title, after all, to get the attention of the leadership. OP, I once heard a peer provide this extremely sage advice: “This is not my father’s business.” Therefore, take a big breath, sit back, and observe the leadership and consultants as they go about their business. Only then can you strategize and make informed decisions on how to effectively get their attention. This is the key to achieving success in any organization. By understanding the dynamics and priorities of the leadership and consultants, you can tailor your approach and actions accordingly.

– Rob Martin


Question 3) Do you think the current recession will end? When?

When do you think things will go back to the way they were, I mean the tech recession, wage wise, considering the current economic situation?

– Rob Martin


A] Keeping the economy aside, I believe there has been a boom in the field of product management in recent years. It was heavily advertised, and I believe many people who entered it are underqualified or performing their jobs poorly. Additionally, it appears that there is no clear agreement on how PM should be organized inside the companies or what specifically each job is responsible for.

Now, we observe certain companies changing the roles of PMs or pushing more of these duties to Engineering. That, in my opinion, will continue for a while and reduce work chances before failing and making a comeback. The demands, however, will then be considerably more stringent, seeking for skilled PMs rather than just those with a PO training or certification.

These are merely my highly subjective thoughts.

– Dan Coelho

B] I completely consort, with the exception that I believe there will be more specialized PMs in the future (like growth PMs), who have a defined position and function. I think specialized PMs will become more important in the future because businesses will increasingly require expertise in niche areas. Having a specialized PM who can understand and cater to specific industry needs will greatly contribute to a company’s success. Additionally, with the increasing complexity of projects and the need for effective coordination and communication, skilled product managers will play a crucial role in ensuring successful project delivery. They will be responsible for overseeing the entire product lifecycle and aligning cross-functional teams to achieve strategic goals.

– Jesus Rojas

C] The trend will eventually come to a stop when some executive says, “We thought we could let engineers do what they want to?” Engineers can write code, but I’ve met very few engineers who can successfully navigate politics and other aspects of business, which is why their involvement in certain projects is limited. However, engineers who possess strong communication and interpersonal skills can greatly contribute to projects that require navigating politics and other aspects of business. These engineers are highly sought after by companies because they can effectively bridge the gap between technical expertise and business acumen. They play a crucial role in ensuring that technical solutions align with the overall business strategy.

– Carlos Dubois


Top Learning Resources

Product-led onboarding is something of a revolution in the SaaS industry. It’s not a ‘hack’ or a quick fix: it’s a mindset shift in how you approach your user onboarding process. In this article, we’re going to break down what product-led onboarding is and how product teams can implement it effectively to drive customer success. Ready to transform new users into lifelong customers?

Products and people

One of the most common questions I’m asked is how to convince your CEO to take a hard look at how you create your products, and consider adopting the practices of the best product companies? Our writing focuses on product teams, product leaders and most recently, product marketing. And we’ve shared that we’re working on another book aimed at sharing the keys to meaningful transformation. But realize that our lens is product teams and product leaders. The CEO brings a very different lens and a different perspective. Fortunately, there are a set of excellent books aimed at CEO’s that describe the benefits of empowered organizations.

Using multiple digital analytics platforms

One of the main reasons organizations use multiple digital analytics platforms is technology platforms. It is very common for an organization to use one digital analytics platform on the website and another on its mobile application. My theory on why this happens is that marketing and product departments don’t collaborate; one team (typically marketing) is responsible for the website, and another team (typically product) is responsible for the mobile app. I believe that this platform bifurcation stemmed from how websites and mobile apps evolved. Websites began as marketing collateral and as a destination for digital advertising, so marketing typically built and owned the website. Mobile apps started as more technical efforts to capitalize on smartphones, and we were initially created by IT teams which later evolved into digital product teams.


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