Mcoach, Product excellence simplified, Digital product Leadership, Product Management

Product Management Course for all aspirants transitioning into the most in-demand role as a product manager.

All the strategic concepts that will shape your attitude and mindset.

HOW DOES A PRODUCT MANAGER CONNECT THE ORGANIZATION ?

A Product Manager is the hub of a wheel that holds the internal organization together A People Person.

He is obsessed with assembling best teams, evangelizing their needs and empowering them with resources to excel in their spheres. Every organization is structured differently.

Functional, program oriented, and Skill driven teams are typical examples. Irrespective of how they are organized, each individual operates with personal and professional goals tied to their context. 

Brimming with ideas, suggestions, requests and complaints, they seek to and need to have a say in how products are built. 

A product manager gets to interact with legal, sales, marketing, industry analysts, business development, technology, CXO’s, data analysts, user researchers, user experience designers, security experts, customer success, customer support and finance on various disciplines that will impact the product launch. 

A product manager compiles, consolidates and cross pollinates ideas from all disciplines of the organization.

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF A PRODUCT MANAGERS ?

Today, More than ever software is programming the world. All of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale. said Marc Andreessen of venture capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz. 

The rate of change we experience today Is the Slowest It Will Ever Be. In such a fast paced environment, identifying factors that will enable success is a predicament for Product Managers.  

The old ways of working that withstood the test of time are crumbling, the hidden cracks are showing up and there is a heightened need to reinvent working culture and adapt to reality. 

Incremental changes won’t yield. Agile, Lean, Scrum, MVP et all are falling short of expectation. Radical change is the need of the hour.  

Where do we change ? What do we change ? How do we change ? How often should that change happen ? are some questions in the minds of product managers.

WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS FOR DIGITAL PRODUCT SUCCESS ?

There is growing realization that product building is a team sport. Shared responsibility and accountability is key to nimble decision making and execution.

While a robust architecture, a badly needed feature or optimal coding are important, they are not deciders of product success. We can give many examples of great engineering gone wrong.

Product Success is a black swan that occurs with a perfect blend of customer empathy, engaging design, lean engineering and empowered business. To make it repeatable occurrence product teams need to get the critical ingredients right. 

Thought Leaders in Product Management like Martin Eriksson, Rich Mironov, Marty Cagan encourage 5 principles for sustainable success.

  1. Assemble a Diverse, Cross-functional and Co-located Team.
  2. Create an environment of Psychological Safety, Autonomy and Purpose. 
  3. Encourage and reward them for beginning with customer pains, problems and goals. 
  4. Pick The Process that Balances Discovery, Definition, Development and Delivery
  5. Set in motion a framework to continuously learn from all types of feedback 

“Leadership requires creating conditions that enable employees to do the kinds of experimentation that entrepreneurship requires” said Eric Ries who pioneered The Lean Startup

WHAT KIND OF TEAMS SHOULD PRODUCT MANAGERS ASSEMBLE ?

It does not make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people to tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs “

A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players” – Steve Jobs

How many Product Managers grasp what it means to hire smart A+ Players?

Irrespective of the functional orientation, Any productive individual need to master hard and soft skills. 

Hard skills are technical relative to the domain. Expertise and Efficiency are Key to Success. Soft skills are social skills relative to people. Empathy and Self Control are Key to Success.

A smart A+ player is one who exhibits the perfect blend of hard and soft skills in a given context. He is exceptional at something. He can listen, learn and interpret other things.

WHAT MAKES A GREAT (A+) PRODUCT TALENT ?

A responsive Product organization is normally structured to balance organization vision and customer need.Inside out, it is driven by aspiration to find, mind and grind customers.

Outside in, it is driven by the purpose to build a Desirable, Feasible and Viable product. Both approaches feed the continuous Discovery, Definition and Delivery cycles. 

A great product talent is one who evolves his or her skills depending on the phases of product development and stages of product growth.

A great product talent demonstrates a growth mindset and is focused on delivering consistent value to all stakeholders. Strategic yet Tactical.

Exhibits emotional intelligence, aspiration, drive, empathy, active listening, critical thinking , structured thinking, design thinking, intuition, curiosity, problem finding, problem solving, experimentation, creativity, collaboration, communication, decision making and business acumen.

There is no single person or team that possess all these competencies. Hence, the role of product manager is to anticipate and facilitate the availability of such talent.

WHAT ARE THE STRATEGIC IMPERATIVES FOR PRODUCT SUCCESS ?

Any product needs to fulfill 3 criteria to be successful.It has to alleviate customer pain and enhance experience – Be Desirable.

It has to empower stakeholders with the confidence to forge ahead – Be Feasible.It has to deliver win-win outcomes without draining resources – Be Viable

Balancing such a complex dynamic is only possible with extraordinary talent who are conscious, nimble and adaptive.Any Product team member is busy with their things.

Product Roadmaps, Customer Interviews, Technology Architecture, Prototypes, Coding, Copywriting and Launching are created and propagated. None of it is yielding expected results.

Momentum is lost. Acrimony is amplified. Collaboration Breaks Down and Customer is Left in the Lurch.

Product teams fail to execute when there is imbalance in team composition.

Ignore hiring of smart A+ players at your own peril. organizations with weak talent get busted sooner or later. The real challenge is that problem with a dysfunctional team isn’t obvious.

“Everyone’s fault. No one’s fault.” A sense of accountability is the driving force for high performance teams.

WHAT EMPOWERS PRODUCT TEAMS ?

Product managers don’t have an option other than to play their best game every time. Finding such contextually relevant co-creators is hard but not impossible.

It all begins with defining organizational purpose, principles, values and drivers. Creating a culture of shared ownership, common language, reciprocative expectations and mutual empowerment enhances trust.

In addition to focus on hiring individual talent, experts recommend assembling a cross functional team of designers, developers, business and relevant domain experts to form the core unit of execution.

Teams can only play their best games when there is autonomy of decisions and actions. Finding people with the right mindset and attitudes improves communication, cohesion and collaboration.

Daniel H. Pink author of Drive stated “Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.

”Dear Product Managers, Your job is to make people awesome.

HOW CULTURE LEADS TO PRODUCT SUCCESS ?

“Product Management is not about the product but about the people” said Martin Eriksson of “Mind the Product”

There is a growing realization that the strength of products are founded on the capability of people and the culture binding them.

As per Harvard Business Review, cultural norms is the tacit social order of an organization that defines what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group. Culture is the result of teams giving up on fixed mindset and embracing a growth mindset.

It all begins with aligning different teams to a shared vision of the future. Establishing a learning process to Improve everyday. Accepting accountability in pursuit of common goals. Being comfortable challenging each others assumptions.

Healthy interactions among team is fostered when a team member appreciates his peers. Overcoming inhibitions and feeling confident in front of his/her team fosters collaboration. Demonstrating Transparency, Commonality, Credibility, Reliability and respect during interactions with enhances trust.

Unshacke the critical, creative, and curious perspectives of team members in pursuit of excellence.

In fast paced environments like product development, continuous change is necessary to be responsive. We need people who feel safe enough to nudge for that change.

Product Culture will need to evolve with the the growth of your company. We need to balance respect for our culture, with an openness to change it as needed. As a product manager, you need to maintain a team that is open to adapt.

HOW DO PRODUCT LEADERS FOSTER A COLLABORATIVE  WORK ENVIRONMENT ?

Move away from output to outcomes said Lea Hickman of Silicon Valley Product group (SVPG).

Biggest cause of headache and heartache in teams is Friction within team, among teams and stakeholders.

Friction is a normal outcome of us being together. Motive boils down to the need for reinforcing our individual identity and sustaining our tribal identity.

It’s like in a Marriage, where occasional tiff’s lead to stronger bonding. Not all friction is bad. A healthy dose of it is essential to bring out the best in individuals and teams.

WorkPlace Performance Studies have found that deficiencies in Leadership, Communication, Alignment, Engagement, Accountability, Competence and Decision Making as causes of friction and resulting low productivity.

Depending on team size and interconnections, friction is multiplied and amplified. Layers of bureaucracy have never been found to deliver high performance.

Control reduced friction in factory floors where knowledge disparity is rampant. Leaders in Digital Products succeed by empowering knowledge workers with information parity so as to innovate on behalf of the customers.

Innovative teams are purposeful, aligned, autonomous and collaborative.

WHY IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE CRITICAL TO TEAM SUCCESS ?

Successful products are built by people who are bound together by purpose and are intrinsically motivated to collaborate.

In other words, people who grasp the need to continuously improve their competencies through persistent effort.A lifelong learner inspired by success of others. Carol Dweck calls it “Growth Mindset” .

Industry leaders like Jamie Talbot of medium.com are looking for people who recognize the existence of multiple perspectives, demonstrate sensitivity to other People and exhibit an ability to Imagine thinking and feeling of others.

Great Teams are shaped by emotionally Intelligent and competent contributors.

Where can we find such people?

How do we structure hiring to identify them?

How do we nurture them for performance?

are some very important questions product managers should be focused on in every stage of team development. 

Foundations of Product Discovery

Foundations of Product Discovery

Last updated Sep. 1, 2018

Program Director – Product Management

Digital Product leadership

mcoach

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