Why Most Product Management Programs Don’t Work

Shobhit Chugh
4 min readSep 27, 2021

Roughly four years ago, I decided to get a coach. I realized the importance of having someone who can be a sounding board, someone who challenges my thinking and gets me out of my own way.

That is what good coaching does for your career.

However, most Product Management programs make a fundamental mistake: the emphasis of information over transformation.

I always ask people what programs they have already done when they come to me and their impact on their careers. I have had over a thousand such conversations. I find that most programs are focused on handing out certificates rather than handing out real-life change. They end up being a waste of time and money.

A Product Management program should transform your mindset and your strategy. It should give you the tools to become great and give you a chance to put those tools into practice. A great program teaches you how to deal with the scenarios that life throws at you.

A Product Management program should transform your mindset and your strategy.

If you are looking for a program, I urge you to find one that does not make these four fundamental mistakes.

Only covering performance psychology

Frameworks and approaches can be excellent knowledge to gain. The vital problem is they do not help you change your performance psychology. Your beliefs will never alter, leading to the same old behaviors time and time again.

You have to ask yourself if you have the level of confidence and self-worth to know you can achieve your desired outcomes. If how you see yourself and your identity does not align with what you need to accomplish, you will become stuck in a never-ending loop of failure.

Any program that does not also help grow your psychology will fail no matter the material it provides.

Never going beyond the basics

Learning information should be the first baby step in any growth process. Many programs are dispersing the information and stopping there. Because of the lack of further action, you will never have true transformation.

The concepts need to sink into your entire being and become part of who you are. Only then can you know that you have effectively grasped it.

Many product managers are gaining the knowledge (reading the books, listening to the webinars, etc.) and not practicing it. This theoretical knowledge immediately leads to a false sense of hope that they have fully conquered this topic. The tragedy occurs when they finally realize that facts don’t back this hope, and they start feeling disappointed.

Many programs are majoring in minor topics.

Not teaching you how to work with people

Many programs assume that every product manager in their classes works in a company with a well-structured product management process. Most of the time, this is far from the truth. Even large FAANG companies have people who may not be doing their job as they should.

What happens when you need to confront a coworker? What happens when you need to give a presentation or speak with a manager?

If you are not learning the strategies to deal with people and an inadequate work environment, you are not being set up for success.

Providing a generic curriculum that does not work with your circumstances

If you cannot answer the fundamental questions about where you want your career to go, you will never go anywhere.

The issue here lies in programs giving solely generic curriculum and not providing custom steps for where you individually want to be. Not everyone will have identical next steps, and they shouldn’t!

It is vital to understand your true career path, where your strengths lie, and how you can leverage them to get to that next level.

Focus on practices but not what helps you succeed in your career

If I have learned anything in my career, I have learned that one man’s trash is truly another man’s treasure. This concept applied 100% to the job search. The cookie-cutter approach of taking the first job that comes to you is not always the answer. It is not always just about the FAANG companies. Because everyone has different goals, they should have a customized approach to their job search.

There is an immense level of skill and technique that goes into interviewing and finding that proper role. The unfortunate truth is that most programs are focusing on certificates and not success.

Instead of spending money on certificates that don’t actually matter, invest in programs not making these mistakes.

If you liked the blog post, you would love my free workshop, “5 Steps our Product Manager Clients Take to Land Their Dream Job, Increase Their Salary by 200%+, and Accelerate Their Career.” Go ahead, enroll now!



Shobhit Chugh

Founder at Intentional Product Manager (http://www.intentionalproductmanager.com). Product @Google, @Tamr, @Lattice_Engines, @Adaptly. Worked at @McKinsey