Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


The product management perspective

You have probably noticed during the last month the new feature at the end of each blog posting called “The Product Management Perspective.” I’ve added this new feature for the purpose of linking leadership principles to product management best practices. Effective product management is intricately tied to leadership; in the absence of effective leadership, product managers rarely succeed at getting the right products to the right markets at the right time. So the product management perspective section with each post will continue to highlight principles that connect the main point(s) of each post with effective product management.

Since this post IS about the product management perspective it would seem redundant to add the feature this time. Instead I want to highlight a few of the great posts from other bloggers to give you additional perspective on product management:

  1. Career Growth and Product Management by Art Petty. Art writes consistently great posts on leadership, and this post decribes key skills that product managers must focus on if they want to “crack into the ranks of senior leadership,” namely: leadership, strategic thinking, communication skills and mastering the art of diplomacy. This is a great post for any discipline, but especially for product managers.
  2. Lack of complaints does not equal success by Jeff Lash. In his distinctive form, Jeff poses a statement of how a bad product manager acts and then contrasts it with how a good product manager handles the same situation. This post suggests that good product managers seek out feedback rather than wait for complaints.
  3. The Product Management Question Corner by Ivan Chalif. Ivan has added this new feature to his Productologist blog where he interviews a product management professional to get their opinions, insights and experiences on a wide variety of product managment topics.
  4. Is the SaaS Market Broken, or Just Efficient? by Scott Sehlhorst. Scott discusses the impact SaaS is having in the software world. He conludes that although there are inherent risks with SaaS, smart companies (and product managers I would add) will seize SaaS as an opportunity “to build a better moustrap.”
  5. Agile/Scrum – Reality Check by Saeed. This is an in-depth look at the world of Agile and Scrum through the eyes of a product manager. If your development teams have moved to Agile/Scrum, or if they are thinking about it, you need to read this post and its links.
  6. Friday funny: Robin and the car that wouldn’t start by Steve Johnson. This is a flat-out funny. In his characteristic way, Steve relates a funny story with a principle incredibly important to product management: communication. It will make you think about the way you listen to and communicate with customers and colleagues.

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Agile and SaaS

Two somewhat related topics are getting increasing attention these days: agile and SaaS (software-as-a-service). Agile software development changes the the paradigm for developing software; it breaks things down into smaller “bite-size” chunks. Tom Grant writes a nice post on the many reasons to be Agile. He compares its evolution with the Protestant Reformation. It’s a great post; well worth the read (regardless of your religious beliefs).

The onset of SaaS is making its mark in the world of software development. Many companies have rolled out successful SaaS offerings and even built their entire business model on SaaS as a delivery mechanism (e.g. Google and Salesforce.com). Gopal Shenoy takes on a critic who makes a prediction that the SaaS model will collapse in two years. He says: “While I totally agree that Saas is not the panacea to solve everything that is wrong with software, that many of the Saas vendors are not yet profitable, I cannot come to terms with him calling his prospective buyers stupid.” Again…well worth the read.

The Product Management Perspective: If you have not read much about Agile and/or SaaS, you should, and the sooner the better. Both Agile and SaaS are having a major impact on product management. Both will significantly affect how product managers do their jobs. Take time to educate yourself on these two important industry trends.

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Product manager responsibilities

The role of product manager is ever evolving, and with the onset of the Agile, the speed of change is increasing. Two recent posts deal with somewhat different, but important aspects of the responsibilities of product managers:

Dean Leffingwell discusses the differences between product owner vs. product manager. Dean doesn’t believe there’s enough product managers in most companies for them to be the product owner (according to the Agile Manifesto Principle: Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project). In a situation where the product manager has too many products, meeting with the team every day and ‘owning’ the product is difficult. The main reason: to really get a grasp on where your product is headed you need to get out of the office. If you’re not in the office you cannot meet with the product team every day. So it ultimately comes down to definitions. In your experience is the product manager the ‘owner’ of the product?

On a somewhat different, but equally interesting topic, Peter Ganza asks fellow product managers whether they create and use product management roadmaps. He’s not talking about an external product roadmap (these are common), but an internal roadmap that establishes the direction the product will take over six, 12 or 18 months. Is this a common practice? Peter posted a survey that’s worth taking a minute to answer.