Submitted by akahn on
This is my first post. If there's a more appropriate forum this post should be in, please let me know and I'll move it.
I've recently started a new job as an executive at a large company. One of the groups I'm taking over was created by a manager on extended leave and I've been charged with transforming and reinvigorating the product management group. Over time, the team has transitioned into somewhat of a project management group and I need some guidance on how to get the team back on track.
In my regular one-on-one's with the team-members, I've determined that one of the major thing's that's missing is that the team has lacked any vision and has no long-term goals its working towards. All the team members' work has been cut out for them over the last few years by their previous manager, and rather than working on projects people are interested in or working toward a long term strategy, the team members have been executing to their former leader's work-list, which lacks any coherent vision or strategy.
Six weeks into the position--as I develop a better understanding of the landscape--I've decided to pull the team together over a couple of days to talk about the team's role, a long-term vision, and an overall group strategy.
I'm interested in hearing from others on if there's a framework or approach you might suggest I use to have my team participate in developing a team vision and long-term strategy.
An Additional Resource
I've seen this same situation in a couple of product management groups that I've been involved with and have gone through it myself. Product management is often confused for many other things: project management, marketing, sales, sales support, etc. Often times, product experts come from other, more tactical parts of the organization, and bring their tactical focus with them into Product Management rather than stepping into the longer-term, strategic realm of product management.
I would guess that many of them just aren't sure what "Product Management" is or what it means. They've left behind some role where every day there was something prompting them to act; a sales call, a customer complaint, an engineering deadline, an issue in manufacturing, etc. And now their in this world where the phone isn't ringing - or at least not ringing with truly strategic Product Management issues on the other end - and they need to really set a course and direct themselves on a daily basis.
Before you can really engage the team in collaboratively setting a vision for the group, you need to have a common understanding of what Product Management is and what the enterprise needs from the team. Is product management the technical sales team? Is product management the advertising team? Is product management the marketing/market research team? Is product management the R&D team? The best resource I've found for starting to make sense of this is a website called "Pragmatic Marketing." Their framework and e-book on the strategic role of Product Management (which can be linked to from their homepage (http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/) could be a great way to get your whole team onto the same page about what Product Management owes to the organization and what tools & techniques exist for delivering on those requirements. While there is a bit of a lean towards software product management, I've found it useful in an equipment/heavy manufacturing business as well.
Good Luck! Sounds like an exciting challenge.
Great response and resource GR.
Luckily, (for me) I am in software product management, so the link you sent is right on the money.
Thank you for taking the time to respond.
A Good Blog Post
This blog post came through on my reader this morning and it made me think of your situation. It's a good quick read about the strategic facets of a Product Management team.
There are lots of good Product Management Blogs out there - this is one.