How Product Managers Win the Battle for Features

Product Managers decide the product’s vision and direction, features to put in place.

We’ve heard “One ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” when talking about health.

I’m going to assert that the same is true in product management. Resolve conflicts before they escalate and you have won the battle.

Low-level conflicts are good. Conflicts raise questions and encourage conversations. They push people to do better. They help put the focus on improving the customer experience. Yet, if a product owner finds him or herself in a battle for acceptance it means he or she lost, no matter the outcome.

Apply the next practices to win the hearts and minds of your product development team. Prevent a battle for features.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” -Vince Lombardi

Be proactive

Don’t wait for meetings to put forward your vision and goals for the best customer experience your product can deliver. Have compelling stories that touch the heart and analytics that engage the brain. Have clear acceptance criteria that can be tested.

Accurate information is necessary, backed by data on the features what and why. Balance Mr. Spock with Captain Kirk’s emotional call to action.

Take ownership

Be aware of bugs or missed expectations when communicating with users. Own their resolution instead of trying to cover them. Volunteer for User Acceptance and break/fix testing.

Get better at being persuasive

It’s hard for me to be persuasive. An aptitude test in high school told me I had none for sales, one of the reasons I became an Engineer. I approach it in a conscious, deliberate manner, so I try to remember Vince Lombardi’s quote. Do the homework, prepare, and get ready with the right attitude.

Learn to balance

Decisions are about making trade-offs.

Understand what are the key expectations that enhance the customer experience. Don’t select more than three. They can be simplicity, aesthetics, functionality, performance, or other dimensions. Focus on your choices with facts, in an explainable, transparent, and consistent way.

Have a Product Roadmap that can handle unexpected events

Agile development expects and encourages feedback as each release deploys to production. Users, confronted with a “real” application in a “real” work environment, can change their mind. Business goals can change. A product roadmap is a view of the future, of commitments made.

How to integrate both?

It’s not easy. Like we say in Spanish: “Del dicho al hecho hay un largo trecho”. Or in English: ”Easier said than done”.

But I like the literal translation best: “It’s a long trek from saying to doing”. So get started!