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Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/cpowlc/ on line 116 ยป Observations on Product Strategy and Management en (The Chief) Copyright 2022 PivotX - 2.3.11 Sun, 16 Jan 2022 02:44:00 -0800 60 Product Management Methodology In classical literature, chiasmus was used to impart a sense of order and symmetry to writing.  Ideally, this order was a pleasing reflection of a logical and well-structured concept.  In describing a preferred product management methodology to a colleague I started to see a chiastic structure emerge.

May we impart order and symmetry to our product efforts, and communicate it well and in pleasing ways to our stakeholders...

Product acts as the voice of the customer within the organization

Product interacts with customers to truly understand their problems

Product and the cross-functional team develop business solutions to customer issues

Product works with Project and Engineering to assess the feasibility, cost and timing of potential features

Product spends a limited quantity of engineering ‘currency’ on the most useful portfolio of features

Thorough, concise specifications describe features: we see that they are fulfilled; we test to them; we train to them; we document to them – our specs are agile but concrete

Product is accountable to the Executive team for how they have chosen to spend their engineering capital and budgets

Product works with Project to publish and meet roadmaps and deadlines

Engineering constructs the technical structures needed to implement the business solution as described

Product and the cross-functional team take the solutions to market

Product acts as a solution evangelist to the market

So let it be written; so let it be done.

]]> Analysis Fri, 01 Feb 2013 11:54:00 -0800 The Chief
Why CMOs Need to Own Product Jim Taschetta , writing in this morning's ClickZ,...

Why CMO's Need to Own Product Development

...offered an observation so profound and simple that it merits immediate comment here: it opens up a revealing dialog about the nature of Product Management and Marketing in an organization.

  1. Product Management is a Marketing Function: If you remember nothing else from business school marketing I hope that you remember your three 'C's (Customers, Competition, Company) and four 'P's (Product, Placement, Pricing, Promotion).  Those are the factors that make up the marketing foundation of any offering, and should be the overarching concern of the product professional.  The CMO needs ownership of Product Management, which should drive Product Development.

  2. Marketers Must Understand their Products: The days when hosting parties and hiring agencies could keep a CMO in place in the long-term are long gone.  Depending on the size of the product stable, the CMO or a direct report should be able to do a high-level functional demo of every product offering.

  3. We Need Specifications: Engineering is fundamentally not a marketing function, and we rely on their expertise to deliver functional solutions.  A waterfall-type product 'book' that defines every aspect of the new product before any development work happens is too rigid, but I have seen 'agile' methodologies attempt to condense an entire new product offering to a single 3x5 card.  In the middle lies a comprehensive summary of what needs to be built, with enough detail that it should be possible to make technical documentation, marketing copy, sales collaterals and training materials 90% complete before any development work begins.

  4. Know the Role of the Marketer: Before you can place Engineering ownership into Marketing, you must place marketing ownership into Marketing.  Many Marketing teams and marketers cling to the notion that Marketing is sales, or that marketing is advertising.  Combining the single-prospect dialog of Sales with the mass-market monologue of advertising results in overall understanding of customers and their needs.  When Marketing and Product professionals step into their role as informed advocate for the client it only makes sense for Development teams to follow their leadership.

As we better evangelize product benefits externally and client needs internally we take away reasons for ownership of our products to lie anywhere but with our team.

]]> Analysis Mon, 14 Jan 2013 08:29:00 -0800 The Chief
What is a Product Manager? Despite several strong and eager candidates, there is no governing body for Product Management standards, or even broad agreement on the role of the job, other than ‘overall success of the product’.  This often leaves a great deal of uncertainty in what companies are looking for in a product manager, and can result in significant misalignment of resources and expectations.

Across a broad spectrum are numerous Product Management roles that may bear the moniker “product manager” but which require very different skills and experience in order to succeed:

'Product Management' Role  Accountable To Background Responsibility  Defend P/L By 
Product Revenue Manager CRO Sales with Strong Communication Revenue

Sales Training;
Directly Selling

Technical Product Manager CTO Engineering with Strong Project Management Functionality Personally Make Technical Changes
Product Marketing Manager CMO Marketing Client/Product Alignment Better Client / Market Interaction
Product Strategy Manager CEO Product Management and Cross-Functional Skills
Successful Full Product Life Cycle
Coordinate with all Stakeholders

In the absence of authoritative product management standards, none of these definitions is right or wrong, but each represent different needs from and benefits of the product management professional:

The Product Revenue Manager

Any person who owns a product is responsible for its profit and loss (P/L).  The key determinant is whether sales numbers represent the Product Manager's direct or indirect KPI.  When direct, top-line revenue is the most important metric, a sales-focused Product Manager can be most effective.  Examining the action that must be taken to protect revenues can be very revealing:

  • If the product response to P/L issues is to directly go out and sell product, you are dealing with a product revenue management function, and it requires a very different skills from other product management roles -- product revenue management is a sales position.
  • Other product roles will address P/L issues by changing the product or the way it is communicated.

The Technical Product Manager

This role focuses on aspects of the product at a level of detail that is beyond what users see and experience.  Prospective employers often do a good job of identifying these roles (requiring an engineering degree, programming experience, etc.), but not necessarily of differentiating how Technical Product Management differs from other product management activities within the organization (assuming the firm also employs non-technical product managers).  Organizations with a strong technical focus may assign all product management functions to Engineering, with "Program Manager" or similar titles assigned to those filling the client and market-facing product management role (this approach yields varying degrees of success).

The Product Marketing Manager

This role often has the most difficult distinction with Product Management.  Where the Product Manager typically controls what the product is, the Product Marketing Manager frequently governs how the features and benefits are communicated to clients and the market, whether and how specific user needs are being met, and the overall effectiveness of sales and marketing activities.

The Product Strategy Manager

The most critical role of the Product Office is to define both what the product is and needs to be at the high level, but also why, and to apply these factors for the long-term success of the organization.  Because of the critical nature of Product Strategy, this role is often filled by the CEO or executive team directly.  Mature organizations assign a Chief Privacy Officer to drive product strategy and overall success of the product portfolio.

Numerous roles may ewar the "product management" badge; the more clearly we differentiate product strategy and management from other company roles, the more likely we are to get the right people in each position with clear objectives and the tools they need to win.

]]> Analysis Mon, 07 Jan 2013 08:00:00 -0800 The Chief
Three Dimensions of Product Management Three primary factors determine the nature of product management in an organization.  Understanding and applying them will smooth the addition of new product managers and guide the expansion and success of the organization's Product Office.

Three Dimensions of Product Management

In general, the fit between an organization and its product management requirements is determined by three orthogonal criteria:

Organizational Experience, Domain Knowledge and Product Management Expertise
  1. Organizational Experience: Every organization has its own specific processes, terminology, and procedural quirks, and the time it takes for a product manager to learn them can range from a few days to literally years on the job.  Organizational experience requirements are more pronounced in firms where objectives, processes and influence structures are complex or loosely documented.

    Members of high organizational experience product teams are not interchangeable from one firm to another, nor can new product managers -- of any skill level -- be readily imported from outside the company; they must typically be developed in-house, though fewer training and background restrictions may be required for the product manager to be successful.

  2. Domain Knowledge: Whether it is software, CPG, financial offerings, manufactured goods, or any other class of product, a certain level of understanding is unique to that industry or vertical and necessary in order to understand possibilities and client requirements.  Product management functions that are blended with engineering ones requires high levels of domain knowledge to be successful.

    Members of high domain knowledge product teams are interchangeable within their own industry, but importing product managers from other areas of activity can be problematic.  At its most extreme, pervasive high-domain-knowledge product management may limit career opportunities of highly-specialized product professionals to a small range of closely-competitive firms.

  3. Product Management Expertise: Though there are relatively few ‘standards’, several different organizations provide formal policies and practices in product management.  The more companies accept and adopt any of these practices, the more portable team members become between industries as well as companies, and the easier it is for a product team to acquire a new, fully-functional product manager from outside of the organization.

    Members of high product management expertise teams move freely between companies as well as industries when appropriate, and have the shortest ramp time for fully-functioning product managers.  They apply best practices wherever possible and break down challenges into fundamental steps that can be addressed independent of technical and organizational specifics.


Developing an organization whose success stems from product management expertise, rather than organizational experience, represents the most clear, versatile and effective approach to product management.

But you can’t manage complex technology in a complex organization without understanding the... complexities!

No, you can’t.  Product managers must understand the capabilities and limitations of both the organization they work in and the systems they work with in order to apply the more broadly applicable skills and experiences they bring to the table.

]]> Analysis Tue, 01 Jan 2013 07:00:00 -0800 The Chief