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In this podcast, Jase Clamp speaks to Elise Stevens about stakeholder engagement as a product manager. Some of the key points they discuss include:
“Ever since the Product Manager role was created to bring decision making as close to customers as possible, it has been an art and science of collaborating with stakeholders. The problem today is how to scale collaboration with your stakeholders when the signal-to-noise ratio is out of control.” Ross Mayfield points out that “all this noise keeps Product Managers from collaborating efficiently and effectively with their stakeholders” and provides some suggestions for dealing with this noise. (via @Ross)
Success in product management often comes down to an exercise in balance. One “tightrope walk you’ll have to perform to give your products the best chance of success—and this one truly is mission-critical—will be managing your stakeholders’ expectations. You’ll want to persuade your stakeholders to feel optimistic about your product, but not so optimistic that they’ll be disappointed if it achieves anything less than total market domination.” Maddy Kirsch explains that managing expectations may be the toughest balancing act you have to perform “because your executive team is probably already enthusiastic about your product. And that can make managing their expectations a lot more challenging.” To help you out, Maddy provides a few good practices for managing stakeholder expectations. (via @MaddyKirsch)
As a product manager, there are several things you have to do on a day to day basis to make sure you deliver outcomes to your customers. The most difficult part is that you generally have no direct staff responsibility. You have to use your “super stakeholder management skills to get information, support or buy-in from staff across the organization” to do your job well. To help with that, the folks at Brainmates have described how they work with their stakeholders. (via @brainmates)
Helen Bui discussed dealing with internal politics in this episode of This is Product Management. Helen describes her experience navigating internal politics at a large organization and explains why miscommunication is so rampant, why objectives are decided in a meeting and then nothing gets done, and how to champion and execute initiatives in large organizations. She also discusses some tactics and practices you can use to communicate with team members. (via @tipmpodcast)
Alpha HQ held a panel discussion that explored how to navigate the thorny landscape of internal politics in large organizations to build great products. “The panel discussion brought to light the delicate balancing act of maintaining a user-focused mentality while juggling numerous stakeholder priorities.”
Baruch Deutsch once viewed office politics as a negative activity until he attended a talk where the speaker suggested “wherever there are two or more people – there’s politics…Your only real choice is either to participate in the political process or to become a victim of it.” Baruch suggests that the best way to participate in the political process is to improve your stakeholder engagement abilities. (via @baruchdeutsch)
Not everyone in a corporation (or even in a startup) is motivated by delivering great products or delighting customers. In fact, most aren’t. Most people are motivated by self-advancement to varying degrees. At the extreme end is the Political Animal.” Paul Jackson describes the political animal and suggests some lessons for working with them. Some of those lessons include acknowledging that politics exist and you’re part of it, that it’s not personal, being right isn’t important, and being smart is irrelevant. (via @pivotservices)
As a product manager needing to make decisions about what does and does not get done, you are inherently going to run into organizational politics. Rich Mironov suggests that instead of ignoring the political nature of decision making in organizations, you should lean into it by building “political support for the decision process and your final choices.” (via @RichMironov)
Sometimes it’s useful looking at worst case scenarios to guide us. The first mistake Rachel Burger lists is identifying the wrong stakeholders. To avoid being perennially frustrated by lack of movement by an individual stakeholder, it’s wise to group each one in a low-to-high power and interest matrix. Once this is done, look at yourself and question if you’re being too optimistic when promising milestones and delivery dates. Thirdly, we return to communication. Along with being a better communicator, you must also have a plan for communicating. How often will you speak with your stakeholders and when, to discuss updates, environmental impacts, and roadblocks?