Defending the CPM’s Fictional Name

You “regular” people will probably never understand this, but it is TOUGH TOUGH TOUGH being a fictional product management celebrity. (Please, cry for me, Argentina.)

For one, the paparazzi never leave you alone.

Second, you never get any “real-world” Web-2.0 cred — even at a time when everyone else is vomiting  “social media brand-building” all over their resumes.  Well, guess who has more social media cred than 95% of you?  THE CRANKY PRODUCT MANAGER, THAT’S WHO.  But does the Cranky PM get to brag about such things on her “real world” resume, and maybe angle for a better paying job (or at least keep the one she has)?   HELL NO. In this respect, the CPM’s “real world” resume looks like a 60-year-old grandma’s (see note 1).

Third drawback?  Well, every now and then, an attention-whoring, self-promoting, link-baiting JACKASS has the AUDACITY to call you FICTIONAL! 

GAH!  How DARE he? That JACKASS!

But then the CPM is like, “Well, DUH, of COURSE I’m fictional!” 

But CRIPES it ticks her off, especially when he further posits that the CPM is a project of a commercial firm, written by someone who is familiar with product management but never had the role, and that the author is just making shit up in her posts. 

So the CPM debated the issue with herself: 

CHOICE #1: Bitch about it on Twitter for 60 seconds and then move on.  Reasons for:

  1. Attempting to “prove” the CPM’s legitimacy might compromise her real-world identity.
  2. What this Jackass wants — DESPERATELY, more than ANYTHING — is for the Cranky PM to send her 5000+ regular readers to his site. all so the Jackass can attempt to convince them to buy training from HIM.  (not gonna happen…)
  3. Tom Grant already defended the Cranky Product Manager’s honor on her behalf.  Why beat a dead horse?

CHOICE #2:  Defend self & take The Jackass to task. Reasons for:

  1. The Cranky Product Manager rarely backs away from a fight, especially when her FAMILY NAME is besmirched so scandalously.  She has the scars from many a middle-school scuffle to prove it.  
  2. The Cranky Product Manager is extremely flawed, prideful, and dumb. Emphasis on dumb.

Hmm…. Well, Choice #1 seems to be the most rational, thoughtful choice.  But the CPM has been dealing all day with a whining toddler who has apparently forgotten everything about using the potty.  She is on her last nerve and therefore she unwisely picks Choice #2.

SO, FOR THE RECORD, the following is THE TRUTH:

  1. The Cranky Product Manager is written by an INDIVIDUAL, with occasional guest posters and the help of a “Cranky Sales Engineer” friend.  All guest posts are clearly labeled.  The Cranky Product Manager is NOT the project of a commercial firm or product management organization.  The Cranky PM only WISHES she was actually paid to blog or had regular help to keep this schtick up.  (Hear that, Pragmatic /Sequent /ZigZag /Pivotal /Enthiosys /PDMA /280 Group /Rally /AIPMM /Blackbot – and yes, you, Aass University?   BUY ME!  The CPM will gladly entertain any reasonable offer. She is a capitalist, after all.)
  2. As is abundantly apparent to every reader EXCEPT The Jackass, the Cranky Product Manager’s author is a REAL product manager at and has been for <insert number between 5 and 15> years at <insert number greater than two> software vendors and online services.
  3. Regarding the story The Jackass claims “didn’t happen,” and thus cites as “proof” that the CPM is not a real product manager….well, SORRY, Jackass, but it DID happen. Not to the Cranky Product Manager personally, as is the case with 75% of the stories in this blog (seriously, the CPM would have a seriously sucky real-world life if all this crap really happened to one person), but to a <former/current> co-worker who is indeed a product manager.

The Jackass claims any PM would be fired if s/he called sales people to develop a product forecast.  OK… well, maybe if the product manager was enslaved at one of those dreary companies with which The Jackass is familiar, where the primary (sole?) function of the so-called Product Manager is “keeper of the tick-list.”  The Cranky Product Manager can’t comment on that type of company because she has never — and would never — work at a place with such an profoundly limited view of the product management role; her jobs have always had more of a “Product Leader” (both tactical and strategic), “Voice of the Market,” and “Buck Stops Here” emphasis.

But even at that dismal type of company, the PM would NOT be fired if the CEO ordered her to call individual sales reps to build a forecast.  Seriously, Jackass, did you even READ the post

The Cranky Product Manager has to say, she is really dismayed by The Jackass’s small-minded view of product management, especially given his own history in the PM trenches.  Thank Cheezus she never worked for or with him. Keeper of the Tick-list! GAH!  The CPM thought we left that  limited definition behind over 10 years ago. 

That The Jackass is out there proselytizing this outmoded view… well it makes the CPM sad. Very sad. Because he might be undoing the good work others (including the PM training firms that The Jackass disparages) have done educate senior executives and to show how the product management role can operate at its finest.  And, frankly, it’s an insult to PMs everywhere for him to present the 5% of the job that is the most boring and trivial as the whole picture of the product management profession. 

But, gentle readers, it might surprise you that the Cranky PM agrees with the Jackass on one main point:  if  the PM function reports into you, if you think product management’s main job is maintaining the tick-list, and if you simply cannot be convinced otherwise, well then the Cranky Product Manager URGES you to do what the Jackass recommends.  Automate away the PM role with some kind of feature voting tool. 

Why? Because the CPM does not want to WASTE HER TIME applying for your so-called “product management” job.  She’d rather focus her energy on companies that want someone to research customer problems, to be the voice of the MARKET (and not just current customers), to develop visions and road maps for the product’s future, to develop business cases and product strategies, to shepherd new products from concept to reality, and to properly position products and successfully launch them.  And she will then KICK YOUR PRODUCT’S ASS since you ignored all those activities, concentrating on “feature votes” from current customers instead of focusing on the MARKET problems and solutions that land the customers you don’t yet have, and thus providing the only real avenue for growth.

‘Nuff said.  Now excuse the Cranky Product Manager while she gets back to getting a fictional pedicure while sipping a fictional margarita on a fictional tropical beach.

(Oh, and thanks to Tom Grant for chivalrously defending the Cranky Product Manager’s honor.)


Note 1: For those of you who suggest that the Cranky PM’s real world author establish her own independent social media presence…. well, she tried that.  Let’s just say it is the road to madness and to getting caught. If you are a highly distractible and semi-careless individual like the Cranky PM, you will — without a doubt — tweet/email/blog/update from the wrong account.  Trust her. She’s done it, a few times.  How the Cranky Product Manager’s true identity continues to remain a secret is a miracle.


  1. DGentry

    You tell ‘em!

    Engineers send their bizarro stories to The Daily WTF. Product Managers send theirs to you. This doesn’t mean your blog is written by committee, it means that inspiration comes from all over.

  2. Ian R

    Here’s news. I don’t care if you’re fictional or not. Your blog resonates with me. I recognize the stories. I’ve “starred” in my own version of some of them. SO I don’t care what the jacka** thinks …

  3. Paco

    There’s absolutely NO WAY your blog is written by a commercial firm. If it were, it would obviously suck. We’re talking black-hole-within-another-black-hole kind of suck. Why? Because if a group of people really were writing this stuff week after week, it would read like a stream of vomited product data sheets:

    “Today was a game-changing day. Leveraging my strategic partnership with my husband, a leading provider of male parenting, we delivered a real-time, interactive, multi-cereal breakfast experience to our child. Pushing beyond the boundaries of Meal 1.0 thinking, we’re exploring ways to build new platforms to support the dynamic needs and high-growth potential of our customer – an innovator in the toddler space. And with the launch of this latest solution, MealTime, we’ve expanded our comprehensive portfolio of solutions to encompass all aspects of the toddler-service market: MealTime, e-Poo, and Nap-Master Enterprise 9000.”

    And the jack*** is indeed doing our profession a disservice by propagating the tick-list view. That’s the same line of thinking that prompts jack*** coworkers to ask Product Managers questions like “so how well do you know MS Project?” and “are you PMI certified?”.

    The CPM is dead! Long-live the CPM!

  4. A Despondent PM

    CrankyPM – I can understand how some might think the duties you describe would not, could not and (god forbid) never should be performed by Product Management. These people tend to be Marketing types that view the role of Product Managers as little more than release managers. They don’t understand what Product Management is or what it should be. These people also believe that marketing has the sole responsibility of interfacing with sales, and keep such information as sales forecasts as privileged information never to be shared outside the bounds of the ivory tower, and certainly never with the folks that need to prioritize the development of features.

    This view is common when the Product Management group exists inside the engineering department and reports to a pocket protector VP. Product Mangers in such an organization struggle to get out and do the most simple strategic tasks. Things like attend the User Conference and visit with clients, unless of course the client is about to kick us out because they are having issues and the sale droid wants to impress the point that it really wasn’t the fact that they positioned the product incorrectly but that we need to prioritize the development of a one-off toaster add-on to make the client happy so they can use them as a reference. Product Managers in such an organization never have any input to actually set the price of the products they develop and usually only hear about any packaging or pricing decisions after the fact. They also deal with requests for tactical enhancements which get prioritized over strategic initiatives, because the latter won’t help us make this Qs number.

    Unfortunately I now am a PM is such an organization and is one of the reasons I took issue with one of your posts that purports to say that it doesn’t really matter where the PM lives in the organization. Fact is it does matter. I’ve had the privilege of working as a PM where we were our own department reporting to the head honcho (best), and where we reported to Marketing (OK, but not ideal), and where we reported to Engineering (worst of all). PM needs to be an independent arbiter of all things marketing and engineering and can’t be viewed as submissive to one or the other.

  5. Rick Chapman

    +++ “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” (Winston Churchill) +++

    “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
    P.T. Barnum

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