In a time of recognition for the good things in life, and for the opportunities that life has presented us with, I thought it would be a good time to take a few moments and reflect on some of the things that all Product Managers should be thankful for. So, on this Thanksgiving week, enjoy the Clever PM’s inaugural top five list of things that a Product Manager should be thankful for!
Archives for November 2014
Leading Through Influence the Clever PM Way — Part 2: Effective Facilitation
In part one of this series, we discussed the concept of “social capital” and how important it is to build, manage, and spend it in the process of leading through influence. In this installment, we’re going to extend the scope of the discussion to a highly effective way of building your social capital in an organization, as well as to build the trust and respect of your peers and senior management team.
Facilitation is the process by which an effective product manager brings people together and drives them toward a common goal, and in doing so establishes themselves as a hub around which the spokes of the organization turn. When performed effectively, good facilitation is almost imperceptible to those involved in a meeting – people enter, engage, and leave with an understanding of what’s to be done next. When done poorly, or not at all, the company and management devolve into a morass of pointless, lengthy meetings that go off on wild tangents and never deliver any meaningful progress.
Which sounds more familiar to you?
Five Things a Clever PM Can Learn from Role-Playing Games
I’ve been a gamer for far longer than I’ve been anything else in my life. From the early days of playing Combat on my Atari 2600, to Fastball! on my Commodore 64, all the way through to Skyrim on my PC or Destiny on my XBox One, I’ve always been interested in the cutting edge of gaming technology as well as the games that are played on it.
And, as both a gamer and a Product Manager, I can promise you that there are many things that we can learn from any given genre of gaming. In this installment of the series, I’m going to focus on role-playing games — the Ultimas of the world, the Skyrims of the world, and the Dragon Ages of the world. So here’s a list of the top 5 things that a Product Manager can stand to learn from the common tropes of role-playing games over time:
Leading Through Influence the Clever PM Way — Part 1: Social Capital
It’s often stated that Product Managers “lead through influence” rather than through position. And people smile and nod, and occasionally clap their hands in agreement.
But how many people really think about what this means, and how to achieve it?
Forests or Trees – The Constant Tension of Product & Project Management
It’s a rather sad fact of life that many companies, hiring managers, and even supervisory managers commonly conflate the jobs of Product Management and Project Management. I literally cannot count the number of times I’ve corrected people at a variety of companies, telling them that I’m a “Product Manager” and not a “Project Manager.” In fact, it’s almost become somewhat of a joke to me.
But, in reality, it’s deadly serious. And it impacts our daily jobs by altering the expectations of us as Product Managers.
Prioritizing in an Agile World: What’s Now, What’s Next, What Else?
While helping through a transition with a PM and Dev team that I worked with on a daily basis, one of the major stumbling blocks I ran into was Release Planning and Roadmapping. When I got there, they were in many ways using all of the right Agile terms, but not really following Agile principles – each release was meticulously planned out in advance, then chopped up into deliverable components that were split into two-week work increments. In private, I often joked that they were using “AgileFall”.
How Technical Does a Product Manager Really Have to Be?
There’s a strong trend in Product Management circles to insist that a good Product Manager must be strongly technical in addition to having strong marketing and communication skills. And while this approach is well-meaning, it often results in a weak Product Management role that merely supports Development rather than challenge it.
Now, that’s not to say that a Product Manager can be successful without some basic level of technical competency — in order to have honest discussions with development teams, and to build the trust and respect of those teams, you must have at least a passing familiarity with the technologies that are being used by that team. You have to at least know what the terminology means – not knowing the difference between MySQL and NoSQL at a very high level, for example, can and will negatively affect your ability to write effective user stories.