What are some things product management can do to exert more influence and demonstrate stronger leadership?

Most product management professionals readily admit they spend too much time in the weeds on tasks that, at the end of the day, don’t contribute much to the overall mission of the organization.  Here are three things product management professionals can do to be more effective doing what they’re paid to do – managing the organization’s primary source of revenue — its products.

1.  Get Out Of The Building

So you’re an expert on your product. Terrific! So are the engineers who built it – making your value marginal.

The bottom line is this:  if you spend the vast majority of your time entangled in products, your perspective on everything becomes product-centric, a clear disconnect with the real world.  So get out of the building and put yourself in situations where you’re learning about the business of your target customers and the market dynamics driving their businesses.  This knowledge will give you the credibility and respect necessary to drive key product and market decisions.

2.  Get Out Of The Building

Remember the catch-phrase “you are what you eat?” A slight variation applies to product management – you are what you do. So if you spend the majority of your time down in the product weeds, you’ll never be more than a product expert, and treated accordingly.

Get out of the building and improve your market and business domain expertise beyond anything present elsewhere in the organization.  The perspectives that sales, services, support and individual customers bring to the table only represents a small slice of the real world.  Product management has to be the conscience of the organization with a bigger-picture perspective so that product direction is constantly aligned with broader market needs.  It’s much easier to influence others to your way of thinking when you make it all about the business goals of your target customers.

3.  Get Out Of The Building

Expand your vocabulary beyond product talk and learn another language — the business vocabulary of your customers. If product management is supposed to represent the voice of the market, it needs to speak the same language. Who else is going to help sales, marketing, services and operations align with the business of the customers?

The moral of the story is this:  Strong product management teams and great product managers are just as business savvy as they are product savvy.  Product managers need to know their products, but they need to know their target customers better.  After all, products are your lifeblood, but the only way they will continue to generate revenue is if product management can understand and articulate (to the rest of the organization) WHY the market needs them.

If your product management team is out of balance, schedule an onsite Proficientz Workshop where they’ll learn simple tactics for understanding the bigger picture market dynamics and customer goals and transforming that expertise into high-value solutions that make customers measurably better at what they do.