Success factors for program managers

In response to my post on the lost cult of PM at Microsoft, Charlie Owen’s was kind enough to post his notes from a conversation with Joe Belfiore, my first boss as a PM, and now a VP at Microsoft, where he outlines what it takes to be a great program manager.

1) Maniacally focus on building a product your customers will love.

– Pound, pound, pound on the features while they are being developed all the way through the process.
– Constantly ask ‘How do we know this is good?’
– Perceive the reaction of others to your features.
– Know others will want to have an opinion.
– Recognize constraints make it hard to develop products customers will love.
– This takes energy, persistence and creativity.

Highly recommended. It’s short, memorable and hard to achieve. Read the full post: Success factors for program managers

An interesting follow up question is if great PMs focus on making products customers will love, why does it seem Microsoft generally fails at this.

3 Responses to “Success factors for program managers”

  1. Greg

    I would say that Joe is quite unique at Microsoft.
    (Apart from miniJoeB, inside Joke)

    Many PM’s at Microsoft have learned to say “How do we know if it’s good enough” rather then “how do we know its good.” The culture can get skewed toward shipping products. People get ‘Ship-it’ awards and “Patent Awards” not “Quality awards” or “Customer Delight” awards.

    Great post and great tips. Thanks.

  2. Pawel Brodzinski

    The rule “Maniacally focus on building a product your customers will love” hits the nail. Yet I’m always a bit confused when I know the interest of the customer is different from the interest of the user (which is quite common in b2b business).

    How do you choose in this kind of situations? Or maybe you were lucky enough you always worked on end-user apps and the customer always equaled the user.


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