If you have read my article you know that I believe deeply in leading on purpose, in making a focused, intentional effort to improve yourself and the people with whom you work. It takes time, effort and energy to do it consistently.
I recently read an article by Niel Nickolaisen about aligning your business or organization around its strengths and the strengths of its people. (I received a hard copy of this article, Determining IT’s Strategic and Tactical Roles; Niel, if you read this perhaps you can point us to an on-line copy.)
Niel discusses the need for companies to define their core competency and focus their efforts on building in those areas. They should evaluate business activities in two dimensions: First, the extent to which the activity differentiates the organization in the marketplace. Second, the extent to which the activity is mission-critical to the organization.
Depending on where the activity falls (i.e. high or low) based on each criterion, they can map it and determine whether it’s a core competency and something they should focus on. (Fortunately I was able to find Niel’s quadrant on-line.) If it’s not core, don’t spend a lot of time or effort. This quote sums it up nicely: “It would not make sense to design a marketing campaign that proclaims, ‘Buy our cars (or jets or LCD monitors). We have the world’s best accounting system!’”
These principles apply nicely to leading teams (whether as a product manager or in some other role). We need to focus on our strengths (core competencies) and outsource to, or partner with, others who have strengths in other areas. Thus collaborating we improve the organization as a whole.