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5 Tips Every Successful Product Manager Should Follow

Thousands of books, hundreds of thousands of articles, loads of webinars, and a ton of online classes – there is definitely no shortage of material available to teach anyone who walks off the streets how to be a Product Manager. The content paints a pretty picture of what to expect when you are expecting (a product). The themes are generally similar: market research, monitoring competitors, engaging with clients, and driving the project forward. The biggest challenge is adjusting your product management skills to a new environment, new products, and new team members.  The out-of-the-box methodology can help you for the first few weeks while you are learning, but true success comes with the evolution of the Product Manager and their philosophy to best support their products, team members, and clients. 

Here are 5 tips that I believe are key as you get into Product Management:

1. Ask all of the questions
It’s human nature to try to immediately solve a problem, even if it is not clearly defined. Slow down & take a moment to ask: So, what? “Why is this important?” “Who is this actually helping?” “What else could this possibly impact?” Don’t shy away from asking questions of any source of input. It is your mission to champion the product and sometimes the tough questions can unveil the true problems in need of resolution.

2. Embrace wearing multiple hats
Because one responsibility is never enough, embrace the plethora of roles to play as you support your product. Some hats might include: market analyst, event coordinator, referee, sales rep, technical writer, and cheerleader.  Hats come in different sizes and frequency of wear varies, but at the end of the day, raising your hand to help drive the product forward is all that matters.  

3. Listen
Short and sweet. Listen. I spend most of my time in meetings simply listening. What do the clients seem to focus on when a certain topic is brought up? What themes do the sales team hear from clients during demos? What does Customer Success build most frequently in client tenants? What concerns or ideas are shared? Active listening shows respect towards your peers, clients, and leadership team 

4. Passion
A well-oiled machine is not without a need for fuel. I believe the most critical theme for a Product Manager is passion, the source of which can come from things like collaborating with those who believe in the product, interviewing clients who are passionate about the problem you are trying to solve, and celebrating your product wins. Passion is truly contagious and is worth catching.   

5. Patience & Understanding
Product Management is not a one person show. The developers, executive stakeholders, advisors, sales team, customer success team, and clients, to name a few, are all working with you towards the same goal: a successful product. Whether it be different working styles or feelings about product features, respect each contributor and what they bring to the table. Unanticipated obstacles are often thrown into the works and solving problems is much easier when you try to understand different perspectives and practice patience with time constraints. It takes a village, so love thy neighbors. 

If you have any tips to share, I would love to chat. Feel free to e-mail me (Kaitlyn.rollins@infiniteblue.com) or connect with me on LinkedIn 

85 Percent

For Continuity Sake……

A consistent challenge that I have heard from Business Continuity Professionals over the past 20 years is mastering the art of getting buy in, and engagement, from their colleagues.  As business continuity practitioners, you have chosen a very rewarding career.  We all know how important your job is to the organization.  However, some of your colleagues don’t always recognize it and they must be constantly reminded of how important business continuity is.  You and I know that you’re the glue that keeps things together during an incident, however large or small.

You’re constantly engaging management teams in Human Resources, Safety & Security, Information Security, IT, Facilities, Property Management, Legal, Executive Management, as well as, Local Law Enforcement, Public Information Officers, and Social Media Administrators. Oh my goodness, if that is not enough to do, you must also ensure that your planners have updated their plans, prepared for audits, prepared for tests, and most importantly deal with real incidents that can happen at any time of day.

I’ve had it described in many ways, and not to generalize, but approximately 70% of your colleagues are indifferent.  Sometimes they’ll do what you ask of them and sometimes they are reluctant because they have other jobs and competing priorities.  Then there is about 15% of them that no matter how often you reach out to them, unfortunately they won’t do anything that you ask them to do.   There is however, the 15% that really know business continuity is important, and really get engaged in whatever it is you ask them to do.   So being an overall positive guy, I’ll suggest to you that you’re ahead of the game.  Look at it this way, you have at least 85% of your colleagues listening to you, right?  Take advantage of it and don’t give up on those that don’t listen.  Some day they will.

As business continuity practitioners, you probably never thought of yourself as being in sales.  You are (and everyone really is) in some sort of sales, by promoting yourselves and what is important.  Kudos to you, Business Continuity Professional!   BCP is important and so are you.  You and I know it, we must keep reminding everyone else for continuity sake.   Continuity – should have to do with how things happen over time: if there aren’t any bumps or breaks and everything goes on continuously, then there’s continuity.  Keep smiling and keep up the good work.