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This past week was one of those heavy travel weeks meeting with various industry participants out on the West Coast.  On the flight home last night, I couldn’t help but reflect on a few salient elements of those meetings that play into our roles as Product Management leaders every day.

  • Strategy – Identifies and develops the strategy for the business/product.
  • Visionary/ Information Bearer – Looks to the future for change opportunities.
  • Evangelist/Thought Leader – The face of an organization, represents company at public events.

These are a subset of points I made in a post nearly 4 years ago where I was comparing the roles/responsibilities of a CEO to a couple of job descriptions for Product Management.  I think you’ll enjoy that post, but today I wanted to share my reflections from each of the meetings mentioned in the post title.

Analysts – one important role the Product Manager serves is accurately articulating Market Problems. Generally this comes in the form of the here and now … but it also includes understanding future trends and how they may impact your business.  To highlight this point, consider these important points from McKinsey’s new book Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick:

Strategy plays out in a world of probabilities, not certainties … Getting ahead of trends is easily the single most important strategic choice you have to make.

Input from Analyst firms is often an important aspect of staying up with trends.  BUT, they don’t always have all of the answers because nothing is certain.  We are working with an analyst firm right now who will soon be publishing a new report and they were seeking our input.  As we progressed in the conversation, it became evident their story-line wasn’t complete.  It was fun to hear they needed to rethink portions of the report based on what we shared with them!

Partners – another important aspect of the Product Management role is the Build/Buy/Partner equation. After you have assessed the trends and have a sense of which way the market may be going, there may be a need to partner to deliver on the end vision. As stated earlier, when you develop your vision, you are in a world of probabilities not certainties.  So there is nothing more fulfilling as a Product Management leader than hearing validation of your vision from a potential partner (who is a major player in the marketplace where you are looking to expand) while they share their strategy and desires going forward.

Councils – finally, you may get the chance in your role as a Product Management leader to participate in industry councils.  Frankly, these can often serve as  inopportune demands on our time.  But, no matter how apprehensive I may feel ahead of the event (not an environment where I am in my comfort zone), I almost always walk away with something of value I can immediately apply to my current situation.  Their value in terms of networking with existing or former colleagues, industry experts, or new entrants cannot be understated.