January 17

Working with Executives

When you work with managers and executives, you want to share a steady stream of the right information rather than a firehose of all that’s possible. Keeping that balance right is the difference between quenching the executive’s thirst and drenching them needlessly.

What you should know about managing up. “Having a healthy, positive relationship with your boss makes your work life much easier — it’s also good for your job satisfaction and your career. But some managers don’t make it easy.” “Even if your boss has some serious shortcomings, it’s in your best interest, and it’s your responsibility, to make the relationship work.” Dana Rousmaniere shares a special series that Harvard Business Review put together that focused on managing up. The total piece provides a good primer on how to maintain an effective working relationship with your own boss.

(via @danarousmaniere)

The Product Manager vs. the CEO vs. the CTO. If you like watching tennis live, “you know that it is best to sit behind one of the players. Because if you are at mid-court, you may get dizzy snapping your head back and forth to follow the ball. And if you are a product manager caught watching angry volleys between a CEO and CTO, you also know the whiplash feeling.” Brian de Haaf explains that if you want to be successful, you’ll need to negotiate meaningful and productive relationships with the CEO and CTO in order to do what is best for the product.

(via @bdehaaff)

Avoid timelines, plan accordingly, and change everything: how to work with management. An effective way to do long term planning as a product manager is to

outline your high-level business goals, consider your six-month and twelve-month plans, focus on problems over solutions, and adjust priorities as you learn rather than adhering to a fixed timeline. Unfortunately, that approach runs in the face for the executive’s desires for timelines, plans and knowing with things will get done. Matt Smith explains how you can take an agile approach to planning while still providing executives with the info they’re looking for.

(via @mjordonsmith)

8 Tips for building an executive-facing roadmap. Each audience for your product roadmap needs different levels of detail and transparency. “When it comes to an executive-facing roadmap, it’s all about staying at a high level and focusing on what moves the needle. Prepare to go deeper if there are questions, but the goal is to keep things general and directional versus drowning them in detail.” Andre Theus provides eight tips for boiling all of your product plans “down into a snapshot that conveys what’s necessary while shedding anything extraneous.

(via @atheus)

Is your CEO a finance person stuck on ROI? Is your CEO pushing your product team to prioritize all engineering work solely on ROI? Would you rather invest in user experience, software quality, “meet the competition” features, and other work that doesn’t immediately convert to revenue? Rich Mironov recasts product strategy and prioritization in financial terms. By translating prioritization into executive’s concepts or terminology you can engage them constructively by reaching executives where they are.

(via @richmironov)

Kent J McDonald

About the author

Kent J McDonald writes about and practices software product management. He has product development experience in a variety of industries including financial services, health insurance, nonprofit, and automotive. Kent practices his craft with a variety of product teams and provides just in time resources for product people at KBP.media and Product Collective. When not writing or product managing, Kent is his family’s #ubersherpa, listens to jazz and podcasts (but not necessarily podcasts about jazz), and collects national parks.


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