Connect before you build and Connect before you lead

Every individual in an organization has a different motivating factor. As a product manager, we deal with engineering, professional services, support, training, documentation, and QA. Thus it is crucial to comprehend common ground to understand motivating factor among people with different attitude, behavior, values, and culture. Product manager’s job is high touchpoint job, and it touches every department in the organization. Thus, I firmly believe key to the success of this role is to connect before you build and to connect before you lead.

As a product manager, our job is to bring everyone on the same page when we are thinking about any new product features. We work with sales and customer success to validate ideas and gather feedback. We work with design and engineering to build new features. We work with product marketing and documentation team to share product recipe with existing and future customers. Each department performs significant role based on their functional area. Everyone has their own KPI’s to meet as a part of every release. Every department is thinking from their lense to achieve their objective. It is a usual process and a story of every company whether it is a large enterprise or a small scale startup. However, as a product manager, your job is to wear all these lenses and deliver value to internal and external stakeholders because their job will be depending on information we will share. Thus, your connection/relationship with each department will play a significant role to understand their challenges, thought process, and team culture.


Reference: http://www.pminheels.com/2016/06/customer-discovery-series-part-i-role.html

If we draw a Venn diagram for functional areas; PM functions are at an intersection of UI/UX, engineering, and business. It means product management is at the center of the ship and drives information flow between various departments to make sure everyone is on the same page. However, if we do not have great relationship or connection with UI/UX team, product UI/UX will always stay behind, and it will eventually impact end user experience.

Prioritization is an inevitable aspect of product manager job. We have to prioritize and de-prioritize features every week. 99% of the times it is difficult to make tough decisions, and it could impact other individuals/groups negatively. Consider an example of adding additional functional requirement as a part of the feature without extending a release timeline. It means, the development team needs to complete that work, QA team needs to QA it and documentation team needs to document it. However, teams are not getting additional time to complete this new scope, and they have to work extra hours to finish it. In this kind of situation, we are bound to get pushback from other team members. At this moment, it is crucial for them to have a considerable degree of trust in the product manager. However, this massive degree of faith does not come out from thin air. We have to build relationships with every team and team member. When appropriate relationships don’t exist, people don’t trust their product manager.

In summary, as a product manager, we deal with several types of personalities and departments. Our job is to not only think about new features but also to deliver them with the help from other departments.
Therefore, as Helen Keller said

‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much’

but as a product manager to work together with other departments, I believe we need to

‘Connect before you build and Connect before you lead.’

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