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What Do Product Leaders Do? (and How Can I Become One?)


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7 August 2019 SVMPA talk on career ladders for product managers

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What Do Product Leaders Do? (and How Can I Become One?)

  1. 1. What Do Product Leaders Do? (and How Can I Become One?) Rich Mironov SVPMA / Palo Alto 7 August 2019
  2. 2. • Software product manager since 1988 • Product leader since 1998 • 7 full-time roles (Director, VP, CEO) • 8 interim VP Product (“smokejumper”) roles • Writer, mentor, organizational thinker • Founded Product Camp About Rich @SVPMA @RichMironov THEARTOFPRODUCTMANAGEMENTRichMironov THE ART OF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT L E S S O N S F R O M A S I L I C O N VA L L E Y I N N O VAT O R Rich Mironov CEO, Mironov Consulting “Rich is a thought leader among technology practitioners. He balances practical experience with systematic insights into how products are built and what makes start-ups successful.This book captures the wisdom he has accumulated, along with considerable scar tissue.” Henry Chesbrough, author of Open Innovation and professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business The Art of Product Management takes us inside the head of a product management thought leader. With color and humor, Rich Mironov gives us a taste of Silicon Valley’s tireless pursuit of great technology and its creation of new products. He provides strategic advice about start-ups and big organizations, how to think like a customer, and what things should cost—while reminding us to love our products and our teams. The Art of Product Management brings together the best insights from more than seven years of Product Bytes. “This book is for everyone who needs to understand how customers think and companies work. Don’t plan your next product until you’ve read these real-life lessons.” Steve Westly, CEO of The Westly Group and former California State Controller “The Art of Product Management is a true resource for product management and market- ing problem solving.This book should be on every product professional’s desk.” David Taber, CEO of SalesLogistix “Like a master filmmaker, Rich sheds a soft light on the sometimes harsh realities of prod- uct management, bringing a rare moment of entertainment to those of us solving hard problems for our customers.” Luke Hohmann, CEO of Enthiosys “I’ve trained thousands of product management professionals over the last 12 years at Pragmatic Marketing and have recommended Product Bytes to seminar attendees since it began in 2002. Each article hits a product management pain point and gives specific tips or tools to solve it” Steve Johnson,VP, Pragmatic Marketing and author of The Strategic Role of Product Management “In my 15 years working with technology companies, Rich is the ONLY product guy I’ve ever found who truly understands the processes, people, and politics behind creating products. This book should be required reading for every product manager in Silicon Valley!” Andrea Corney, President,Acorn Consulting “Any aspiring or experienced product manager can use Rich’s collection as an illuminat- ing set of career mile-markers.” Steven Haines, President of Sequent Learning Networks and author of The Product Manager’s Desk Reference Mironov Consulting San Francisco, CA 94102 US $21.95 2160647814399 ISBN 978-1-4392-1606-4 90000 >
  3. 3. • What are product leaders? What do we do? • “Should I want that?” • Product leadership career funnel • Ways to signal interest internally, externally Agenda @SVPMA @RichMironov
  4. 4. • Managing a team of product managers …might also include designers, developers • Group Product Manager, Director of Products, VP Product Mgmt, CPO What’s a Product Leader? @SVPMA @RichMironov
  5. 5. 1. Designing/building/nurturing a product team 2. Driving product strategy, processes, tooling 3. Growing cross-functional collaboration and trust 4. Working with C-level execs on strategy, goal, alignment Create conditions that let product managers succeed Four Key Responsibilities for Product Leaders @SVPMA @RichMironov
  6. 6. Need a strong point of view and a plan: • How many product managers we need • Organizational structures that align PMs to development teams, products, segments or markets • Hiring strategy: mix of experienced PMs, enthusiastic newbies, SMEs? • Coaching/mentoring/training plan [1] Designing/Building/Nurturing a Product Team @SVPMA @RichMironov
  7. 7. • Biggest waste is building the wrong thing à Every product manager spends time directly with real users/buyers outside sales cycle • Biggest frustration is shifting priorities, executive interrupts à Every team needs (exactly) one product manager, one backlog, political clout to say NO • “Proxies” undermine context, skip validation, reduce motivation First Principles for Product Teams @SVPMA @RichMironov
  8. 8. Stable, complete dev team Users (custs) Prod Mgr Value/Functional Area Frequent, in-depth, non-sales learning conversations A Product Structure I Like Prod Line Dir Stable, complete dev team Users (custs) Prod Mgr Value/Functional Area Frequent, in-depth, non-sales learning conversations Stable, complete dev team Users (custs) Prod Mgr Value/Functional Area Frequent, in-depth, non-sales learning conversations Stable, complete dev team Users (custs) Prod Mgr Value/Functional Area Frequent, in-depth, non-sales learning conversations Dev & Design Dirs
  9. 9. Requirements A Product Structure I Don’t Like Stable, complete dev team Team rotates Prod Mgr Users (custs) Stable, complete dev team Prod Owner Mkt Mgr Users (custs) Stable, complete dev team Prod Mgr Prod Mgr Users (custs)
  10. 10. “The Business” A Product Structure I Hate CIO Project team from pool BA Project team from pool Tech PM Project team from pool Prod Owner Tech Reqmts Delivery Dates BU Exec Mkt Mgr CAB Prod Dir Sales Mktg Prod Mgr Users (custs) “IT”
  11. 11. • Champion long-term customer value, especially in OKRs/KPIs • Portfolio-level strategy • Coherent product set, common audience, resource allocation • Shared tools and processes • Backlogs, validation/research, roadmaps, business cases, stories/epics/problem descriptions… [2] Driving Strategy, Tooling, Outcomes @SVPMA @RichMironov
  12. 12. • Design of teams / task forces • Cross-functional trust, psychological safety • Outcome focus: goal alignment with customers and company • Context sharing, research insights, data-informed decisions [3] Growing Cross-Functional Collaboration @SVPMA @RichMironov
  13. 13. • More for VPs than Directors • Push for business coherence, ruthless C-level prioritization • Relentless focus on end customer value and company-wide success • Product leader has smallest staff, most objectivity • Peer coaching: executive behaviors, culture, organization [4] Working With (Other) C-Level Execs @SVPMA @RichMironov
  14. 14. • Positives • More scope, money, visibility, seat at bigger table • Mentoring, organizational design, people challenges • Concerns • Less product management work • Focus on personalities, processes, “politics” • Alternative: “distinguished” product roles? “Should I Want That?” @SVPMA @RichMironov
  15. 15. • Product manager/product leader ratio about 10:1 • Typically long tenure • At 75+ person companies • Bias toward internal hires and current titles • At some companies, misguided tendency to put non-product execs in product leadership roles à Slow movement upward Leadership Career Funnel Is Narrow @SVPMA @RichMironov
  16. 16. 1. Internal lateral transfer: already a product leader 2. Outside lateral hire (already a Group/Director/VP) + Done this job before; informal references - No role uniformity; new organization; “best practices” 3. Internal promotion from Senior Product Manager + Knows company, people, culture, products. SME - No leader experience; manage ex-peers 4. Outside hire into first-time product leader role - High risk Rich’s Hiring Hierarchy (Biases) @SVPMA @RichMironov
  17. 17. • Non-threatening talk with your current manager • “I’m interested in what you do. I might want a position like yours someday. Feedback for me on skills, opportunities, challenges? Advice?” • Demonstrate product leader skills • Volunteer for cross-functional task force • Mentor junior folks • Lobby for someone else’s product • Speak at user conferences Signal Interest Internally @SVPMA @RichMironov
  18. 18. • (Humbly) network with product leaders and peers • Personal contacts and friendlies >> applying online • Target opportunities that minimize perceived gaps • External speaking, writing, mentoring FYI, recruiters focus on specific immediate openings (not on you) Create Interest Externally @SVPMA @RichMironov Will lead product teams for food and options
  19. 19. • Think hard about what you want, why you want it • Product leaders focus on product teams and portfolios, not individual products • Be champion for long-term customer value, aligned goals, engaged employees • Create conditions for product managers to succeed Product Leadership Takeaways @SVPMA @RichMironov
  20. 20. Rich Mironov Mironov Consulting San Francisco, CA, USA +1-650-315-7394 @richmironov