How much domain knowledge does a product manager need?

This becomes a critical question during hiring. Do you wait for someone with the right domain knowledge? Or do you pick someone who can learn on the go?

If you’re in a new domain, it may be difficult to find PMs with the right domain knowledge. There is a temptation to ‘push’ someone from engineering/marketing to take on a PM role as they have some domain knowledge.

This may be the need of the hour, but be warned that there may be problems later on.

While it’s easy to learn the terminology around product management, it takes practitioners a few cycles to get the rhythm of execution right. Experienced PMs bring two important skills – the patience for synthesis & the foresight to prevent costly mistakes.

Synthesis of viewpoints requires balancing conflicting priorities while retaining allies across functions. Good PMs are able to see future effects of decisions and forewarn the firm about potential pitfalls.

The best bet is to pick someone from an allied domain if you can’t get someone from the same domain, as many skills are transferrable. Be wary, though, of picking someone from a B2B domain for a B2C firm or vice versa. These are very distinct entities, and very few PMs have the skills across both.