Project Manager vs Product Manager

Project management is said to have lost its relevance for innovation initiatives because overemphasises planning and control over flexibility, leading to approaches that are poorly adapted to high-uncertainty endeavours.

Product management is now emerging as one of the critical roles for companies, with more and more trying to embrace agility for speed and customer centricity. 


Unlike traditional project managers who take all the requirement upfront (end up often as order takers!), product management has a more embedded approach, where focus is on gathering feedback and iterating quickly to deliver value. But today am here to talk about few tips I have codified in this trait. Given the obvious talent gap and that organisations are still gearing up on how to develop talents for product roles , here are three tips that I have for all you product tribes out there .  These are my tips (no affiliations) which you are free to choose , differ or inspect & adapt ! 

1) Listening as if you are a 5 year old ! 

When you are developing a product roadmap, you have to go on a listening journey (read often , as needed) to all your stakeholders, irrespective of who where they are, i.e. listening from a place of not knowing (Suspend all judgements !) .This would help you ensure the ingredients of your product strategy would reflect the changing market dynamics(Both  within and outside your organisation!), thus giving your product the competitive advantage. 


Key results : Co-create : At the end of it, share a common understanding of what is important with a visualisation like Lean prioritisation quadrants so that at any time it’s clear what must be in the ‘oven’ at any point int time,  given your product backlogs.Try a Lean business canvas to show how important is what you are doing and how it differentiates.


2) Learn to say ‘No’, but with empathy

Being a product manager, you are expected to know and breathe your product. Bring authenticity by clearly telling what you don’t know, thereby showing your vulnerability and openness of being available to new ideas and thoughts. Being an active listener yourself, chances are that, you would be loaded with feature requests. As a product manager,  you must be their sounding board to understand how well that fits the product roadmap. Assuming that you done your round of listening and therefore now have a compelling product roadmap aligned with strategy, hire your NorthStar to tell you what produce can have, and may not. 


Key results : Empathize & Engage . With context of visualizations like Empathy mapCustomer Journey Map, Opportunity Solution tree how their request may or may not align with the product roadmap.

3)Tailor stakeholder communication

Based on the stakeholder interest customise or made audience specific roadmap views so that you better understood. Often the problem arises from the fact what is important for stakeholder A may not be the same for B and thus showing a based roadmap may not help engage B. What is important here is to use old adage of one-one personalisation of communication to map the capabilities to strategy. Use Persona based roadmap and Governance based communication to connect and engage your stakeholders.

Key results : Personalized communication : Product roadmap must have audience specific views !

A course in CSPO, can go long way to complement your skills in effectively doing all of the above .

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