When you join a new team or company it is imperative to effectively win the trust of your new stakeholders and teams. What are the crucial steps?
As a product manager you lead first and foremost through influence and relationships. Typically those organizations in tech companies are (in priority):
- Services / Support
There are typically more such as Finance, Legal, Security, Documentation, and Alliances.
It is important to meet each of these teams. To be most successful it is helpful to prepare a product storyline to organize what you are learning.
New Product Manager’s Product Storyline
An initial product storyline follows a classic story outline:
- Current situation and context.
- Objective and Goals
- The solution
You have been brought into a new product role because the product is growing, market conditions have changed or there is a gap in the product management of the product. Following the story telling methodology proves to be a good tool to systematically uncover what you need to know.
The Current Situation
Customers, Sales, Support and Services are the primary teams you can tap as they are on the frontline with customers using the product.
Find out the following information:
|What is working||What is not Working|
|How is the product being used||What is not being used|
|Sales trends||Issue trends|
The current situation section of the product story should focus on facts, numbers, and recent product feedback. There can also be information on the product forecast, profitability, and relation to the company and portfolio goals. This can help to set up to the problem statement.
Objective and Goals
As a product manager, it is crucial to crystalize: What is your product vision/ objective, and, more importantly, what is the WHY behind your product and each feature/ functionality
By stating the overall objective/ vision of your business and product, irrespective of whether you’re presenting to your internal team, external stakeholders, or a new market. WHY does your product exist, WHY do users need it, and HOW will it change your user’s life?
This will help you start consistently to remind your team of the reason behind your product and the company’s mission: By doing so, you’ll instill a passion in them for your product, which will motivate them to develop a product that users want and will earn you the credibility you need with the teams.
Some good questions you can ask at this point in your storytelling process:
- Who am I building this product for?
- And why?
- Why should people care?
If you can answer these WHYs successfully, and if you can communicate them clearly (and with emotion) to both your team and your users, then your stage is all set.
Obstacles and Problems
The problem statement can be routine or significant depending on the situation. A few examples of each:
- Product is not growing at the rate of the market
- There are not enough resources to address the critical priorities in the roadmap
- The roadmap is not defined for the next year
- There are gaps in the product compared to the competition
- Product investment is not enough to sustain the product
- Product duplication within the portfolio
- Sales are declining
Discussion of options to address the problems which covers advantages and disadvantages of each option. Additionally, a rough forecast of the costs and benefits is outlined for the viable options.
In storytelling terms, this should tie into characters and imagery, too. In this case, you can create your user personas and then develop a story about why each persona needs your product (avoid overdoing it on the data, stats, and analytics and try and use more emotion to motivate your team). More than just looking at what people want, you need to look at why they want it. People are experts at problems, and you’re an expert at providing solutions to those problems! You need to find out WHY a feature request your user has suggested matters to them. WHY do they want this specific feature? What is the motivation behind it?
Also, when talking to your team, create a visual image for them, help them visualize what they have to do, and help them connect with the user, too.
Some good questions to ask at this point are: What is the context in which your users will use your product? When will they use? And why?
A Recommended Solution
The final piece of the product storyline is a recommended solution. In the early version of the storyline, the solution is more of a theory or concept. This allows the product team members a non-threatening way to examine possible solutions without committing to choosing a final solution.
A potential concept can be an investigatory project that you lead for customer discovery or an architectural assessment. As you become more familiar with the product and build key relationships, then you can evolve the conceptual solution into a recommendation and a request for support.
Drafting the product storyline can help reduce the learning curve when you move to a different product to manage. As you improve the product storyline, you can involve the product team and build key relationships in finalizing a recommendation.