Last month I wrote about the essential soft skills that product managers must possess to be effective in driving the product development process, and I came across this super clever story from Product Board – it really resonated with me while turning around the digital division at Nutrien over the past two years so i thought I would share.
Picture this. You are a forward-thinking product manager with a clear product vision, a value-driven prioritization framework, and a context-rich roadmap. You make it a point to listen to customer needs and incorporate feedback from many different perspectives. Yet, throughout the product management process, stakeholders come to the table with unvalidated requests. 'This must be built," they insist, "and right away."
Introducing the dangerous animals of product management: stakeholders and situations that-if left untamed-can get in the way of your carefully planned product vision and strategy.
The dangerous animals of product management
WoLF (Working on Latest Fire)
When you neglect technical debt and issues like security and product functionality to focus solely on new features, you can end up with wildfires that require your immediate and complete attention. The WoLF's cycle of reactivity demands all your resources, seriously hindering productivity and innovation.
RHiNO (Really High-value New Opportunity)
You can recognize a RHiNO by their call, "If we just had feature X, we'd be able to make this sale/land this particular customer." When you address the RHiNO's one-off requests too often, you are focusing on solutions rather than solving real problems for a broad range of customers.
HiPPO (Highest Paid Person's Opinion)
It can be tempting to give in to HiPPOs (founders, CEOs, or other leaders). But letting HiPPOs make all the decisions can lead to products or features that haven't been validated. This can kill morale and introduce risk, making way for what product leader John Cutler calls a "Feature Factory''.
ZEbRA (Zero Evidence But Really Arrogant)
ZEbRAs think they know it all, but rely on their gut rather than any actual evidence. ZEbRAs might luck out and occasionally get things right-but not nearly as often as when you take the time to test assumptions and gather data to support your decisions.
Seagull Managers tend to be a little bit removed from your day-to-day work. However, they occasionally swoop in, cause a ruckus, then swoop out again, leaving the team to clean up the mess. Their intentions are good, but they aren't always aware of the long-term effects of their proposed solutions.
Download Product Board’s E-book Here. (05/11/2020)
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My name's phil mora and I blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech and anything holistic.
Head of Product
thinker, doer, designer, coder, leader
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