Should you be judged on the success of your product?
Well, the easy answer would be yes, however, I think back to my early years in product management and think is it really that easy?
Twenty years ago as a product manager in a large Telecoms operator I found myself in what I thought was the enviable position of launching an exciting new product. There were already some competitors in the market, but the product was new to the company and the launch challenges many. The product was a success and it was generally accepted that I’d done a good job. However, it wasn’t a big market. Relative to the competition, we’d gained market share, but total revenues were never going to be huge.
I worked next to a fellow product manager who, I have to say, I didn’t rate too highly. However, he worked on one of the fastest-growing products in the market. Even though they were losing ground to the competition, the revenues were so big that he got lots of airtime and was seen personally as very successful.
This felt very unfair… and I resolved (and failed) to only work on big boring ‘cash cow’ products in the future.
Do you put your best product managers on the most difficult products or those that are making the most money?
Do you reward product managers that make the biggest turnaround to an existing situation or those that make the biggest impact on the bottom line?
Can you move product managers around from product to product or does it take too much time for them to build up domain expertise about their product area, the technology, their customers and suppliers?
These are some of the challenges that anyone running a team of product managers must wrestle with.
Director, Product Focus