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Managers of product managers, including the directors, VP’s, and Chief Product Officers worry a lot about the culture and environment of their companies. They worry about the ebb and flow of the support for product management (the function) and how various internal and external influences impact the success of the product managers who are entrusted with the firm’s product portfolio.
While markets move at break-neck speeds, there are a number of issues. I wanted to surface some of these based on some recent research we conducted at my firm, Sequent Learning Networks.
What we’ve learned is that a large percentage of product management executives say that their product managers don’t exhibit what’s needed to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of customer needs.
Certainly, the mechanical work (as in writing a narrative or user story) is in place. However, the true expression of what the customer is going through is not being clearly explained to developers who have to implement a solution to a customer problem. As leaders express, this is a big pain point, because many product features that are being built, are not being used (as in failing to fulfill a customer need).
From another standpoint, 64% of leaders say that product strategies are not well-formulated in their companies. Along the same lines, prioritization is a big problem in the vast majority of firms. It goes without saying that without a solid market-driven strategic anchor, it’s hard to pick out what to do vs. what not to do. Further, everyone seems to have a different interpretation of the strategic planning process for products. I suggest that you do a quick poll of your product managers to ask about their goals and strategies for their products.
42% of leaders in our research indicate that product managers haven’t mastered the softer side of the job.
In other words, communicating, influencing, and building political capital is not at a level required to effectively lead or guide product teams, or to inspire the needed collaborative environment. It’s easy to say the words – as most product managers admit in our workshops, but harder to implement. Managers of product managers need to coach product managers in the cultivation of relationships, presentation of stories (especially customer stories and in the passionate expression of what a customer is going through), and in writing.
Another interesting point. From a broad perspective, there isn’t a unified “structure” for a product management organization. This can be troubling as these inconsistencies can lead to inefficiencies. For example, strategies for the following areas are not in evidence.
To help product executives to excel as leaders and coaches – and – to properly re-fortify our product organizations, Sequent’s Implementing and Managing Product Management workshop is available, not only as an instructor-led facilitated program, it’s also available as an online self-paced program (an economical, but a high-value approach to your own development as a product management executive).
Click here to learn more about this valuable program.