Here’s what I’ve drafted so far to the template assumptions I have for the class, moreso though, I think these points are inherently important overall to one’s understanding of Product, Project and Marketing management and why it is imperative to know your role and the roles of all stakeholders. As a PM I AM THE CONSUMER EVANGELIST and a good project manager will help me communicate that to the internal team while a good marketing manager will help me relay that to the potential consumer. This point is probably a great post in-and-of itself actually.
1. What is your mental model of how your business or company or position functions?
Product managers are evangelists for the product at all levels of interaction with it. Typically this is spoken about in terms of being the mouthpiece of the user. Users though have the connotation of being addicted, the product, like a drug, commands their attention. This, however, is rarely the case. Rather, I see a Product Manager’s role to be that of the consumer, the voice of the stakeholders who have hand’s on interaction with the product. Not all consumers are customers, which is a distinction that’s important to note, consumers imbibe while customers pay. Parents are typically customers while their purchases are consumed by children, and thus their purchasing pattern is influenced by children. That’s not to assume that consumers hold the same value, or the same priority in product consumption. It is important for the product manager to identify those consumers which have the highest value; meaning they can possess a substantial return on investment by targeting and determine the features, the line extensions, the revised brand positioning, and ultimately the behaviors that will drive growth. Rather than developing improvements because one can, improvements are developed answering the sole question of how does this augment the value proposition, or rather, from the consumer perspective, how does this make consumption more relevant. Relevance is directly related to the value proposition and not the assumption of making things simpler, quicker, more transparent or other clichés. The better defined the value proposition the easier it is to iterate changes that are actually relevant to the consumer and thus should impact everything else positively.
2. What are your three top ten reasons and why have you selected them? What conventional wisdom or status quo are you challenging in your business or company or position?
The biggest problems are related to conveying the necessity of changes from a consumption standpoint to the overall stakeholder base. Project stakeholders sometimes lose the full product vision when related projects are run start-to-finish and the array of stakeholders aren’t necessarily congruent. The problems are inter-related as follows:
This is a communication problem first and foremost. For example, there are a large number of perspective stakeholders in a product that are at least indirectly impacted by each project in the lifecycle. Explaining the subtle differences between projects and their targets to the different stakeholders inside of their perspective is imperative. As a product manager you may be negotiating with a project manager overseeing a development team which probably includes a combination of designers, front end developers, back end engineers, as well as finance, legal, marketing which probably includes acquisition, retention and recall, etc which are all just internal stakeholders to the overall product. Each project needs to have cohesion across the overall product vision and within the respective teams.
This is a lack of stakeholder buy-in problem. For example, upper management is focused on customers and a desire to drive the overall product growth in quarterly results, usually something like ARPU (average revenue per user), whereas programmers are focused on feature enhancement, specifically on the low-hanging fruit they can quickly develop to feel like they are having overall product impact sprint-to-sprint. Since a project may not show results on a single sprint or demonstrate a return on quarterly investment maintaining a desire to be involved and creating that personal, vested vision can become a challenge
Unrealistic resources, budgets and schedules combine to create a third problem. Requirements expectations and/.or change management are not mutually exclusive, but in my experience from the Product Manager aspect I find that had budgets, scheds and resources been set appropriately, rather than arbitrarily in most cases dealing with creep would be substantially easier if the initial params would be closer to correct in the first place. When every product improvement project becomes a fire alarm it should be deemed as systemic at a source of scope-budget-resource, rather than say a post-scope problem.