If you spend any time listening to what people in Silicon Valley talk about, you’ve probably heard the concept “operator” being thrown around at least once in every conversation.
-There’s a very famous essay by Ben Horowitz titled “Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager” where he highlights the qualities that make a good/bad product manager. It’s become a sort of canonical essay for aspiring “product” people. With the increase interest in “operators” I wonder if a similar canonical piece could be written about the qualities that make a great operator.
This is just a note meant to start thinking about the topic but here are some initial points I’ve thought about:
- Mastery of Metrics: this includes both operational metrics (KPIs, P&L, overall business goals) and product/strategic metrics (DAU, retention, etc.)
- Proactiveness: good operators are not only proactive within their very specific list of task. They’re a major source of “energy” for the team to help explore new areas and plow throw barriers standing in the way of teams.
- Effectiveness: at the end of the day good operators are able to get sh*t done. The best operators can clearly articulate how they’ve impacted the bottom line of the business even if +50% of their work is a seemingly amorphous set of tasks.
This seem pretty obvious points. I will keep thinking about this and keep adding things to this list as they come up. One interesting note is that the qualities that make a good operator are not that different from those that make up a good product manager (perhaps because PMs are a subset of operators). It would also be interesting to understand what are the distinctions in order to figure out what makes a good operator across functions.
That’s it for now. Back to work…