Sean Flaherty & Paul Gebel produce the Product Momentum podcast. They invited me to join this episode:
While everyone else has carved out their own place in the organization, the product manager is the person nobody works for. And who, it often seems, works for everybody else. But their role also puts them at the center of the action, wielding influence that drives product success.
Sean and Paul talked with Rich about how the product manager’s sphere of influence isn’t limited to the user or even to the client. PMs dance to the beat of many drummers, working to convince finance, sales, and customer support – not to mention industry analysts and C-suite executives – why their product is worthy of investment. As the non-hierarchical leaders in an organization, product managers have to meet our audiences where they are “instead of expecting them to love product management so much that they just want to do it my way.”
Here are a few highlights:
[00:51] Validation & discovery. Convincing the C-suite to invest here is really hard.
[02:09] Mistakes we make. We believe our users when they tell us how to fix the problems instead of doing the hard work to figure out what problems they actually have.
[04:20] Timing. The time to figure out what the market wants is 9, 12, even 15 months before we give the product to the sales team and tell them to go bring money in.
[07:12] Validate ideas way before we code. Most ideas don’t play out. Better to have them fall flat before we spend the next $2 million dollars building it.
[08:20] The job of salespeople is to bring money in, not to get all fussy about the technology. When PMs aren’t helping salespeople bring money in, they should make sure they’re building the right product and preparing answers to questions users are going to have.
[09:17] 2 huge changes in product management. The availability of data to help make decisions, and the social network to talk them through.
[14:29] A note to CEOs. When you’re looking for a product leader, hire for the right skill set.
[16:48] KPIs, OKRs, MAUs, and GA. Performance metrics are not one-size-fits all.
[18:14] The mark of success. Be sure you’re measuring your users’ success, not your own.
[20:23] Keep your developers happy. When they love the product as much as PMs do, they’ll do anything to make it right and keep it that way.
[24:56] Discovery. You can pay for discovery now, or you can pay later. But make no mistake. You are going to pay – whether by design or default.
[26:10] The evolution of a product leader’s skills. From the hard skills and workflows to the soft skills and communication.
[32:09] Innovation exists at every level of the organization, at every level of scale.
[34:12] It’s okay to “beat your chest.” We have to not only love our products; we have to make sure our team gets the credit.
[35:01] Saying ‘thank you’ doesn’t cost a nickel.