The year in PM - and predictions for 2024
The market, the profession, and content
How did product management change in 2023?
The PM Content Landscape
From there, we’ll circle back on what’s to come in 2024.
1. The Market
Everything tends to flow from the market, so let’s start there.
The brutal tech job market that we saw at the end of 2022 continued. January was actually the peak layoff month, with them decreasing but continuing every subsequent month:
It was no 2020-2021, where the job market was roaring. A substantial number of PMs were on the market, looking for jobs.
This also made existing PMs hesitant to move. Overall, far fewer PMs moved companies in 2023 than in the prior 10 years.
While PMs were hesitant to move, they actually did want to move. As this striking survey found, Senior product manager is the #1 job that people are seeing out of:
This lines up well with what we were hearing from PMs all year on Reddit.
It also lines up with my anecdotal understanding. The most common response I got to make ‘how to get a PM job posts’ this year was ‘how do I transition out of PM?’
It makes sense. Compared to the year’s 4-6% inflation and PMs being asked to do more than ever, on average, PMs only earned 0.56% more:
So the story of the market was: people lost their jobs, those with jobs grew more dissatisfied with them, but couldn’t leave.
It was a tough year for the PM job market.
2. The Profession
Now, let’s see how PM itself changed in 2023.
Three major trends accelerated in 2023:
The PM as GM
PMs managing higher ratios of engineers
A compression of PM 'middle management' for ICs
All three of these trends were actually trending in the other direction for the prior decade of the tech bull market:
PMs were focusing on input metrics
Ratios of PM:Eng were skewing to less Eng
We saw lots of Directors of Product and Group PMs
As companies cut costs, middle managers, small product teams, and PMs focused on input metrics were the first targets to go. That’s why I said: everything follow from the market. That was the story of 2023.
On the bright side, one area of PM did grow by leaps and bounds: AI PMs. With the breakthroughs this year, tons of big tech companies and startups hired AI PMs.
This looks like a new sub-species of PM that is hear to say - and be quite well-compensated.
Overall, PM had a rocky year but generally survived.
3. The PM Content Landscape
The content landscape had its biggest impact on the profession yet.
Overall, from a platform perspective, LinkedIn saw the most reach and growth. The conversation for PM was centered there.
We saw lots of new creators like Anthony, Ed, and Andre hit the scene; while others like Diego, Shyvee, and Andrew had quiet years.
In addition, Lenny's Podcast broke onto the broader tech scene in a big way. His string of interviews on 'How X does Product' had a particularly large impact. Product leaders everywhere began to question the accepted dogma of empowered teams.
Inspired by contrarian examples like Linear (with just 1 PM) and Ramp (who doesn't do OKRs), they started re-imagining the PM role.
This was capped off by Lenny's interview with Brian Chesky, which questioned whether teams needed to be empowered at all. More than a few tech execs took note. Even Marty Cagan had to write a response.
Outside of the main broadcast media, the PM content space continues chugging away in other corners:
Coaches: Diana, Alex, Exponent, RocketBlocks and the interview / PM coaches continued to grow
Product Schools: Places like the Product Faculty and Product School continued to see new cohorts, conferences, and success
10 years ago, the PM content space had almost no competition. Nowadays, it has tons of competition - and depth. This has led to a “race to quality,” with each section of the universe upping its game.
Overall, the content ecosystem grew higher quality and saw a shuffling in top creators.
Ten trends that will shape PM in 2024
So, that’s the story of 2023. Where are we headed next year?
AI = 🚀
PM as GM
Let’s talk in-depth about each.