Product Management Leader Don’ts

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I read an interesting article recently about the relationship between success and confidence. The article centered around the latter, but the implication (although not mentioned until the very end) was about success.  In his conclusion, the author makes this bold statement …

Embracing the behaviors of confident people is a great way to increase your odds for success, which, in turn, will lead to more confidence. The science is clear; now you just have to decide to act on it.

After several decades in the Product Management world, I can say there certainly is a lot of wisdom here. And while I encourage you to read the article and form your own conclusions, here is a synopsis of the 10 points with a few thoughts of my own.

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The Fruits of Complacency

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Ok, I admit it!  I am one of those World Cup lunatics.  If you walk by my office, you will likely see a game streaming on my mobile device.  Or if I am in a meeting, I will be following 281px-2018_fifa_world_cup-svgvia a live GameCast.  And yes, I was one of those back in 2002 when the tournament was held in Korea/Japan who was up at 2 a.m. watching the US team play.

So, having grown up in Germany as a pseudo-military brat (my dad worked for a defense contractor with the Air Force), yesterday was not a very good day.  The US team hadn’t even qualified (eliminating one of my teams), and now my other team in the tournament (Germany) is done.  And while there are plenty of differences between the two teams and the context of their exits, I perceived one thing that was the same:  a complacent approach.

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“What would you say … you do here?”

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As software products have moved to the cloud, and product expectations have been shaped by the elegant and intuitive experiences of consumer and mobile apps, great product leadership is at a premium.

Last week I came across a post on the State of Product Leadership based on a research study by Pendo and Product Collective. Over the years, I have enjoyed analyzing these types of viewoffice space.pngs (from Pragmatic Marketing, 280 Group, and others) as a way to gauge my own experiences and assumptions shared in this blog.  I wasn’t surprised by any of the findings in this report, but there are a few interesting topics worth having a conversation about.  Here are 3 I felt compelled to pursue.

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Hold Your Opinion to Yourself

Two converging thoughts this morning as I reflect on the weekend, from two completely different sources on leadership, both pointing to the same tenet. The first a reminder I received about being quick to listen, and slow to speak.  The second an edict to actually be the last to speak.

As Product Management leaders, how important do you perceive active listening to be?

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#IfIOnlyKnew

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A few articles caught my attention over the course of the week, so I set them aside to read when I had the chance.  The chance came this morning, and at the top of one of the articles on the Forbes site was this hashtag statement.  An innocuous reference most people probably didn’t even pay attention to.  But these are the types of insights I would either reiterate or share with my twenty something self.  Enjoy.

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Focusing on the Right Things

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We’ve all heard it said Product Management is akin to being CEO of your own product line.  In prior posts, I compared/contrasted the roles/responsibilities of a CEO and the Product Manager, and even took the bait on an article that lead with the provocative statement Product Managers, you aren’t the CEO of anything.

Regardless of where you stand with the conversation, I am a firm believer it’s not the title, or the perceived authority with the role, that defines leadership.  You are a leader when you start acting like one.  But if you do aspire to achieve a CEO role, you should know what to expect going in.

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Horizons, Patterns, & Surfing

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I will prepare and someday my chance will come.

If you’ve read many of my posts, you will know I am a big Abraham Lincoln fan. In fact, I have probably used this quote in prior posts.  And while I don’t think President Lincoln had surfing in mind when he crafted these words of wisdom, they do offer a wonderful perspective leading into the discussion at hand.

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Leading Through Tough Times – “be the change you want to see in the world”

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Sometimes life comes at you hard.  It’s been over 3 years since I posted an article about the storms in life.  The focus was on a principle I learned a long time ago … you are either in the middle of a storm, just coming out of a storm, or about to go into one. It’s not meant to be a doom and gloom view of the world, just reflective of reality. Think about it … life is full of problems, challenges, and issues.  The point I made was depending on the approach you take in dealing them, the outcomes can be very different.

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If I am to speak for 10 minutes, I need a week for preparation

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Sound advice from our 28th President Woodrow Wilson. Whether it is to customers or executives, at an industry conference or an internal company meeting, as a simple mechanism to share information or to build influence … one of the responsibilities that inevitably comes our way as Product Management leaders is presenting.

Having access to an interactive coaching session exploring the ins and outs of serving as an on-brand, on-message, on-tone spokesperson is just one way my current company invests in its employees. The thought is, every employee at some point or another has the opportunity to serve as a brand ambassador for the company.

Having recently participated in just such a coaching session, it reminded me of some posts from several years ago about how to make the most out of these presentation opportunities.  Practical advice for any Product Management leader … enjoy.

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If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will.

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In a former life working to help launch Apple Pay, I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know John Rethans, Global Digital Strategist with Apigee/Google.  Given the conversations I’ve had with him over the years, I wasn’t surprised to see his article recently in Forbes When Innovation Centers Don’t Innovate.

dilbert strategy

Interestingly, the theme of the article plays directly into a Dilbert cartoon a colleague left on my desk in December … both the article and the cartoon describe a concern I had when I took my Strategy role.  I’ve had experiences in the past where the Strategy or Innovation folks were disconnected from the organization.  To paraphrase a quote I’ve heard, they were were so heavenly focused (head in the clouds) they were no earthly good (no practical application).

Having read both The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen, as well as McKinsey’s new book Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick, I am fully aware innovation is an absolutely necessary part of what we do as Product Management Leaders.  The title to the post comes from Steve Job, who said it this way …

If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will.

 

But the efforts must deliver value to the core business while at the same time not becoming a distraction to the core business.

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