Fifteen years in the past Ben Horowitz printed his now well-known memo, “Good Product Supervisor/Unhealthy Product Supervisor” by which he posits that “ product supervisor is the CEO of the product”. In lots of methods, I believe Ben was proper on the cash, however right here’s the issue… many a product managers use this line as a justification for his or her conduct, and don’t appear to grasp that there are each “good” and “dangerous” CEOs.
When most of us consider this title, we instantly consider energy, autonomy and authority, and herein lies the issue: whereas Ben goes on to explain in some element what an excellent CEO (and as a corollary, an excellent Product Supervisor) seems to be like, every of us has a pre-loaded idea of “CEO” in our minds already. It’s a relative time period — a few of us have expertise unbelievable CEOs, and others, horrible ones.
Personally, I don’t like utilizing this analogy due to this cause, and I need to take a couple of minutes to focus on three large points I see with this analogy, and on the finish I’ll share the title I choose to make use of when pondering of my function as a Product Supervisor.
This can be a basic management entice that many leaders (not simply CEOs) typically fall into. When the corporate or product is profitable, it is because of their pioneering, faultless management, however when the ship begins to sink, it’s attributable to these dumb engineers that may’t get two traces of code out with out lots of of bugs. (I’m in fact being facetious, however you get my level).
When your launch runs into points, it’s best to proactively step ahead and handle any adverse suggestions/hostility from the remainder of the enterprise whilst you work with the workforce to search out the precise path ahead. I’m not recommend you lie (for instance, if a member of QA forgot to run the up to date regression take a look at, and missed a handful of mission essential bugs), however I’m additionally not suggesting you set some other workforce members on the chopping block, both. Deal with any suggestions with workforce members behind closed doorways, and work as a workforce to construct a course of that may higher catch these points subsequent time.
There may be greatness in everybody, and the quickest method to squelch a workforce member’s potential is to berate them for his or her failures. Alternatively, when the launch is a hit, instantly take the chance to share this success along with your workforce, and spotlight them. This one is so profoundly easy, however so highly effective. It may be so simple as an e-mail, or as elaborate as an onsite get collectively full with an awards ceremony. This builds unbelievable workforce morale and in the end makes your subsequent launch much more profitable, as you might have a extra cohesive, and pushed workforce.
Tright here is greatness in everybody, and the quickest method to squelch a workforce member’s potential is to berate them for his or her failures.
I’ve acquired to be sincere with you, expensive reader…there was a time after I genuinely believed this. I’d be in a room with my engineers and a few enterprise stakeholders briefing them on an upcoming function, however I wasn’t speaking with them, I used to be speaking at them.
However then I began listening, carefully, and I discovered myself humbled in a short time. Engineers, designers, model new consumer success reps…they’d some actually, actually good concepts. And never simply options to already articulated issues, however new issues that had been urgent and not-so-obvious, that I had completely missed up till then.
chief takes notes. Follows as much as ask extra questions. For me this ended up wanting like scheduling “innovation periods” or “kickoffs” earlier than I began doing any materials work on a brand new function. I’d put together an issue transient — a couple of web page doc or deck that highlighted the issue we had been trying to remedy, after which clarify some early ideas for a way we might probably remedy the issue, after which I’d open it as much as dialogue.
8 out of 10 instances the answer I used to be contemplating ended up altered ultimately after that kickoff assembly. In case you are hiring and build up a very empowered workforce, it’s best to look to leverage the unbelievable minds round you. Moreover, when these workforce members see their concepts make it into the roadmap and in the end into useable performance to your customers, they are going to be extra energized than ever earlier than.
I believe this challenge is much less pervasive at startups, however it’s nonetheless a temptation, particularly for managers of product individuals. Sure, it’s true, as a supervisor or chief you don’t carry the identical tasks that your direct experiences do, BUT there are numerous instances the place you’ll find your self at a fork within the street the place you may both roll up your sleeves and knock out some work to supply your report with focus/a break, or you may ping them and ask that they context shift and get one thing carried out for you, and on the double. This will additionally seem like not studying concerning the particulars of what your workforce is engaged on and simply anticipating them to “determine it out” fully on their very own.
To leap again on the on-call schedule to assist out a workforce member. To open up that Enterprise Intelligence (BI) dashboard yet one more time and sift by means of the numbers to search for that perception. As a person contributor product supervisor this would possibly seem like spending thirty minutes wanting into the information your self earlier than bringing within the analyst; taking a stab at some lo-fidelity mockups so you may higher talk an idea to your designer; reaching out to that new affiliate product supervisor on the opposite workforce as a result of you may inform they’re struggling to remain above water.
I’m not advocating that you simply shirk your personal tasks or stay in a relentless state of distraction, however I’m advocating that you simply thoughtfully think about what you’re asking others to do for you, earlier than you ask them.
I get it, it’s not as horny as “CEO”, however I believe it’s much more evocative and consultant of the function. Sure, you must make lots of selections as a PM, and sure, you do carry quite a lot of authority, energy and autonomy, however the actuality is that by definition your job is to serve the numerous, many groups and people round you. Product managers are uniquely positioned at most tech corporations on the middle of a really giant wheel, in contrast to actually some other function on the agency.
You serve the client by bringing to market the absolute best resolution to their most urgent issues. You serve your enterprise by making them extra income/enterprise worth. You serve your product workforce by protecting them knowledgeable, serving to them develop their expertise and making the most effective use of their unbelievable abilities. The record goes on. You don’t want to stay this in your LinkedIn Bio, however perhaps put it on a sticky observe above your monitor to maintain you grounded and centered on the precise issues.
And if you wish to consider your self as a CEO, extra energy to you. Simply be sure you put the phrase ‘good’ earlier than it.