It’s hard to know where to start with this piece. It’s classic Rands. But it also hits close to home after discussing the validity of product managers recently. There are so many quotable bits from this essay, but let me share those that caught my attention.

Image courtesy of the Wildbit blog.

First, he wisely takes the time to frame the discussion. What is the difference between project, product, and program managers?

A project manager is responsible for shipping a product, whereas a product manager is responsible for making sure the right product is shipped. A program manager is an uber-mutated combination of both that usually shows up to handle multiple interrelated projects like, say, an operating system.

Then he describes some qualities of a good project manager:

A good project manager is one who elegantly and deftly handles information. They know what structured meetings need to exist to gather information; they artfully understand how to gather additional essential information in the hallways; and they instinctively manage to move that gathered information to the right people and the right teams at the right time.


Project managers don’t write code, they don’t test the use cases, and they’re not designing the interface. You know what a good project manager does? They are chaos destroying machines …

Lastly, he describes why a project/product/program manager is important to a team. It’s due to their focus, which is macro and micro at the same time.

Good project managers have a unique insight into the health of the project because it’s their job to have visibility into the entire machine.

If you work as an engineer, this article may help you understand what the people in these types of roles do every day, and how they can help you focus on your coding. A great read!

This article came up recently as Michael Lopp has been sharing older posts from his site on Medium. Although the Medium link came through my circles, I chose to link to the original. If you want to highlight quotes or write a response, the Medium version is here.