“A Venn diagram (also called primary diagram, set diagram or logic diagram) is a diagram that shows all possible logical relations between a finite collection of different sets.” — wikipedia
If you reading articles or book on how properly make the job of Product Manager, or like in my case the Software Product Manager, you’ll often find that this role is compared to the CEO of a company, where other roles like Product Owners, Development Managers are more considered operative and functional to the release of the product.
So I wonder are these role interconnected with the way a product manager works? If so how?
So as “CEO” the role has to operate through three major areas: strategy, vision, and execution so here our first Venn Diagram.
Ideally, we all should be able to balance the three areas so that one compensates the other. It’s self-explained if you lack vision you’ll not able to define which features will need to be into the product. A great example of vision is offered by Steve Jobs when he said:
“I think Henry Ford once said, ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, “A faster horse!”’ People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.” Steve Jobs — Apr 24, 2016
Vision is about defined your product in ways, customers, competitors are not (yet) able to define or, more properly envision so that you may stay ahead of the curve and deliver the most innovative product.
But Vision is not everything, Steve Jobs said in that sentence “That’s why I never rely on market research” but that is related to a new product or a new set of features. You product do exist, is out in the market and need to compete with a similar solution so here’s come the strategy.
From that point of view I really love a sentence from Sun Tzu in the Art of War:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
Strategy is about market research, is about understanding the up and down of your business and operate accordingly. Is about taking the right turn at the right time and be able to catch again the flow to maintain your product on a leadership position and not reverse.
So you’ve got a vision that offers a future view of what you need to deliver and strategy that compensates your “dreams” with reality adding that touch of pragmatical approach to your product and here comes the execution.
I love this quote:
“Plan your execution. Execute your plan.”
Think of it for a moment, look back at the Venn Diagram. Your plan is made by the Strategy and Vision and if corroborated by data and intuition but this is the plan. You know the market, you know the trends, you know where your product stands and how much resources you’ve got at your disposal. This is your plan and so you know what are the right steps to execute.
Welcome to the second Venn Diagram.
You are the CEO, you offer the vision to your team. Strategy? This is about data and practical analysis and the man you need for this is your Product Owner. He knows what means a prioritize a feature instead of another from a practical standpoint: do we have capacity? Are we pushing too hard on the team? Are the requirement correctly exposed?
Do not make mistake: product owners do not simply manage backlogs, they are the glue between you and the developers, they manage the practical day by day work and re-align the team on your decisions. Product Owners are the CFO of your product.
And who they talk to? Of course to their CTO alias Development Manager. Those who deliver the last mile of your PM Venn Diagram. They take care of the practical execution.
So here’s the model: a team effort where the balance between roles make the difference between a great product and a bad one, a well-executed product and a poorly designed one.