Experts featured in our Prioritised and MTP Leader content give us new product management ideas and insights every month. From the phases of a product career to finding your hidden stakeholders, here’s a sneak peek at 5 pearls of wisdom from our February content.
1. The Product Manager Career Path Has Three Stages
In How to Crack the Product Manager Career: Advice From Jackie Bavaro, an interactive AMA session for Prioritised members, Jackie Bavaro, author of Cracking the PM Career, shares what she knows about effectively managing your career in product and reveals that there are really three phases to a product manager’s career.
Jackie explains that those three phases are:
- Shipping Products: In this phase, with context and goals provided, your time is spent creating delightful products that your customers love. You’re shipping products, hitting your goals and getting better all the time.
- Product Strategy: Now, instead of simply taking on the goals set by someone else, you’re the person setting them. You’re developing a long-term vision for your team and thinking about what it will take to get there.
- Organisational Excellence: Around the third phase, you start to manage people. Getting better at product strategy is no longer the main part of your job.
“Seeing the career as three phases has been really helpful to me because it explains why some people improve, improve, improve, and then stall or have trouble getting to the next level,” says Jackie. “It also explains why sometimes you feel like your job is getting easier. And then sometimes you hit this point where everything feels hard again because you’ve slipped it into this new phase.”
2. Senior Product Managers Must Be Able To Manage Conflict
In Climbing the Career Ladder Part 2: Senior, Product Lead and Product Director Roles, Chris Mason, Director and Founder of recruiters Intelligent People, explains how as people become more senior, and start managing teams, the ability to manage conflict becomes increasingly important. He points out that a group of like-minded people is not necessarily the highest performing team, and that diversity creates discomfort and conflict. “This should be managed correctly,” he said, “so modelling good behaviour, being able to listen and demonstrate listening as well as having an opinion, is important.”
3. Great Product Leaders Must Have Vision
In Climb the Product Career Ladder Part 3: Head of Product, VP Product, and CPO Roles we share the wise words of Marty Cagan from his keynote talk at #mtpcon Digital 2020. In it, Marty laid out how hard product leadership can be to get right. He explained how it means setting the strategic context for teams to operate, something that includes the product vision, so that customers are kept front and centre, and which guides the product organisation. It’s hard to get this right because it’s not analytical or data-driven and it needs to trigger an emotional response so that your teams unite behind it. If they feel like they own something meaningful, your team will be inspired to do their best work.
4. How to Find Your Hidden Stakeholders
In Responsible Thinking for Product Managers – Expert Advice and Steps for Success, Cennydd Bowles explains how to use tried and tested techniques to think through the intended and unintended consequences of how people might use your product. One of these, he says, involves looking at how businesses might reframe their responsibilities. “That means looking for hidden stakeholders because the people harmed by these technologies frequently aren’t users.” AirBNB is a good example here he says – the people who are really affected by AirBNB are neighbours and local communities, because their rents go up and neighborhoods get hollowed out. Cennydd also reveals that he uses the Actor Triangle from NordKapp’s Actionable Futures Toolkit to draw out who else might be affected by product decisions.
5. Building an Ethical Product Requires the Right People in the Room
In How To Prioritise Ethical Practice as a Product Manager, our Product Ethics panel for Mind the Product members, Martin Eriksson is joined by Cennydd Bowles, Kathy Pham, and Pavani Reddy to discuss ethical product practice. To kick things off, our panellists chat about what an ethical product actually is and how you need to work, as a team, to build one. As Kathy explains, this relies upon having the right people in the room. Or, in the absence of those people, figuring out how to bring those perspectives into the room. Once they’re in the room, she says, the key is in ensuring those voices are equal to those on the rest of the team. “As we all know, in building tech, there are all sorts of hierarchies we have on our teams about whose voice is often listened to and sometimes the voices of the people who either are or may know the people who are most directly impacted are not.”
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