Leadership is Managing Relationships


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Presented at Product Camp LA 2014 -

What makes a Product Manager truly successful?

Being able to manage relationships – whether it be with senior executives and business stakeholders in inception or with the Technology team members in implementation.

How does an organization take the ideas from the business stakeholders and deliver technical solutions?

Conway’s Law states that “organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.”

If Conway’s Law is true, improving the flows of communication could be the most effective approach to improving the design of the system. Human relationships are defined by communication. We’ll explore some challenges and techniques to deliberately improve the communication structures.

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Leadership is Managing Relationships

  1. 1. Leadership is Managing Relationships Lisa Winter
  2. 2. About Lisa Lisa Winter is a connector & relationship manager – a Product Management consultant with nearly two decades of managing enterprisewide, complex online products and projects. In addition to the Fortune 500, she’s worked with multiple technology start-ups from the start of the dotcom era to boom and subsequent bust. Leveraging her network of relationships from the North Bay to Silicon Valley, she now focuses on building a community for entrepreneurship and startups. She loves user advocacy, code and design, and product management.
  3. 3. What I’m Passionate About •  Delivering the ultimate user experience by building products which truly serve the customer •  Building community and seeing the kind of giving and sharing that makes SF/Silicon Valley the extraordinary place it has been for years
  4. 4. Corporate Clients *Partial client list **Trademarks used here as those of their respective owner entities
  5. 5. Startups & Community
  6. 6. Conway’s Law “Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations”
  7. 7. Classic Communication Breakdown Root Causes •  Organizational Structures –  Silos –  Matrix Management/ Responsibility without Authority •  Human Factors & Team Dynamics –  Egos & Politics •  Ignorance/Poor Practice –  Lack of Empowered Product Management –  Not keeping Customer value foremost
  8. 8. Truly Classic
  9. 9. Communication Failure Points Communication failures… –  within the Business –  within Technology –  between Business & Technology –  between the Business & Customers/Users –  between Technology & Customers/Users Failures to get everyone on the same page
  10. 10. Communication Spaces & the Role of the Product Manager
  11. 11. The Business Side Sales Marketing Finance Legal HR Business Operations Product Design
  12. 12. The Technology Side Help Desk Technical Communications Systems Admin DBAs Infrastructure Dev Ops Business Analysts IT Project Managers Web Developers IT Operations
  13. 13. Customers/Users The customer is the ultimate arbiter of value, according to Lean principles Anything which doesn’t add value from the customer’s perspective is waste (muda in Japanese)
  14. 14. Disconnect between Business & Technology Case Study •  Problem –  New Business goals (expand current product suite and offerings) require non-trivial platform re-writes and tools upgrades; funding issues •  Approach –  Translate and bridge viewpoints •  Outcome –  Funded and successful
  15. 15. Disconnect within Technology Case Study •  Problem –  Non-Co-located Development Team Turf War •  Approach –  Get all stakeholders to the table; making the solution to the problem a team effort •  Outcome –  Successful release of product suite
  16. 16. Disconnect between Organization & Customers/Users Case Study •  Problem –  Engineering thinks that they understand the Customer/ User; Sales knows what the Customer wants •  Approach –  Partner with both Engineering and Sales by being the true Voice of the Customer and the proxy for the User •  Outcome –  If successful – More demand/sales; increased market share –  If not – Overall failure; loss of market share
  17. 17. Keys to Successful Product Outcomes •  Being the Voice of the Customer •  Owning the Customer Experience •  Aligning product roadmap with Technology considerations, using a blend of strategy and tactics •  Practicing leadership by example
  18. 18. Communication Tips for Successful Product Outcomes •  Communicating upward, downward, and laterally – keep the vision present and alive •  Listening skills are paramount •  Empathy and tolerance work to bridge disparate points of view •  Authenticity and integrity are key to getting buy-in •  You can either be right or be in relationship
  19. 19. Q&A ?
  20. 20. Thank You Andrew Clay Shafer – https://twitter.com/littleidea/ Doug May - http://intuedge.net/ Rich Mironov - http://www.mironov.com/
  21. 21. Contact Lisa Winter lisaw1@gmail.com http://www.linkedin.com/in/lisawinter/ https://twitter.com/lisaw1/ https://www.facebook.com/lwinter.pmp https://angel.co/lisaw1
  22. 22. References •  Conway’s Law on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_law •  Exploring the Duality between Product and Organizational Architectures: A Test of the “Mirroring” Hypothesis - MacCormack, Rusnak, and Baldwin http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/ 08-039_1861e507-1dc1-4602-85b8-90d71559d85b.pdf •  Left and Right Brain User Personas - Kevin Simler http://kevinsimler.quora.com/Left-and-Right-Brain-User-Personas