I was lucky to receive an invitation from Steven Haines at Sequent Learning Networks to attend a Summit for Product Management Leaders in New York. I accepted his invitation gratefully.
So I arrived in New York on the 7th of May a little tired from the l0ng flight from Sydney. By Thursday, the day of the Summit I was ready to learn from senior Product Management practitioners.
Firstly, what’s impressive is that there are very senior Product Management practitioners in the USA running their own Product Management divisions. Whilst there may be a few General Managers of Product Management in Australia, our experience shows that Product Management teams report into the Marketing or Engineering division. Based on the list of speakers and their job titles at the Summit, my sense is that Product Management is taken more seriously in the USA.
Secondly, the diverse list of speakers at the Summit shows that Product Managers and the practice of Product Management is essential to any industry and company. Leaders from SITA, an air transport communications and technology solutions company, FEDEX, Computer Associates, ARC, a provider of solutions and reporting to the travel industry and Blackbaud, software providers to the not-for-profit sector spoke at the Sumit.
The list of participants is equally as impressive. Leaders from the Economist, Alcatel-Lucent, Barclays Capital, Green Building Certification Institute, WMS, leaders in Casino products, Experian, Skillsoft, CyberSource, Dow Jones to name a few attended the Leadership Summit.
My key takeouts from the Leadership Summits are as follows:
- Introduction of Product Management governance takes time. It took SITA 6 years to create a structure and process that works for their particular organisation.
- Learn from product failures. Don’t keep repeating the mistake. Take stock like FEDEX and introduce a new framework. Product Managers at FEDEX for example only make decisions fuelled by extensive customer research.
- Create a specific role for Product Managers called Product Leaders to give Product Managers the opportunity to lead cross functional teams successfully. Computer Associates ensure that Product Managers don’t fail when leading cross functional teams.
- Its almost impossible from stopping Product Managers from supporting the business at an operational level. Don’t meet the problem headon. Go around the problem. Arc carved out their Product Management team so that 20% of the team focused on innovation and strategy whilst the rest supported the business operationally.
- Product Managers get with it. Use “systems” to help manage your requirements instead of static documents.
- If you have a global Product Management team, create forums for them to discuss and solve common Product Management problems.
It was great to connect with so many different Product Management leaders at the Summit and I look forward to Sequent’s next event.