Two years ago, I transitioned from design to product management (PM). After 10 years as a designer, from interning to managing a team, I felt unexcited by the management path ahead of me. I missed the deep product work I used to do as an individual contributor. I also felt frustrated when I wasn’t involved with the “big decisions” PMs made, such as canceling a product line or choosing a new strategic direction.
I’ve always found “why” we’re building something as interesting as “how.” To put it another way, the problem-setting was as important to me as the problem-solving. This part of the product development process was often owned by PMs, not designers.
Prior to the transition, I didn’t find any tactical advice from other designer-turned-PMs. Now having pursued both, though admittedly design for much longer, I’d like to share my reflections on how the two roles feel different on a day-to-day basis.