This morning on the way into work, I listened to a webinar titled The Future of Product Management. The host was PG Consulting, and the reason I came to know about the webinar was an email I received from one of their partners who had read one of my posts. Being a student of both Product Management and Leadership, I was of course intrigued by the context of the email:
The role of the Product Manager has evolved and training programs must address this evolution … what CEOs and Investors care about is growth.
Overall, I found the thinking in the webinar consistent with the way I am approaching Product Management because it is forcing people to think about why. The only perspective I differed on slightly was the emphasis on what the CEO or investors want. Not that I disagree with the aspect product management should be focused on growth, but inherently if you are solving for the CEO and/or investor solely, you may not be hitting the mark with what the end consumer/customer actually wants.
Simon Sinek puts it this way … The center is the WHY – not to make a profit, which he argues is a result, but rather the purpose, the cause … why does your organization exist? I would take it a step further and say why would the consumer care?
Second thought is relative to the various product management frameworks that exist. The host of the webinar intimated perhaps the models are dated and need to be overhauled. I don’t really believe the frameworks are the problem.
Think about any type of ‘building’ project you may undertake … for me personally I’ll apply it to building my deck. When I researched building the deck, there were many different approaches to doing the framing and footing … and each author/expert had their opinions on what was better/best. But ultimately each ensured things were structurally sound before moving to the final stages (deck boards, built-in seating, fire pit, etc).
This is a slightly more permanent example than perhaps a SaaS based business, but the premise is the same. I cannot realistically do requirements, or build the product, unless my structure is sound. The structure being sound in this case is ensuring you a) understand your existing customers and their utilization of your product and b) understand your business and the macro-level trends that might necessitate a change (market trends, competitive, technology, etc).
As a product manager, if your business is not growing, I’d argue your structure may not be, or may no longer be sound.
Finally, I love the context towards the end of the discussion about being API-first. This has been are area of passion for me over the past 5 years. Topics like connecting to the broader ecosystem, analytics, billing and the like often get overlooked in today’s product management world. But without the ability to manage, monitor, and monetize your SaaS based offering … growth may indeed be elusive.
Listen to the webinar for yourself … I for one am looking forward to parts 2 & 3 of the series.