You’ve joined an organization and two months in have realized that your team is building the wrong product. You are conflicted between holding steady or changing course! Here are three steps to product management mutiny:
You have to take into account multiple factors to turn your ship around – size, weight, cargo, speed, weather, sea condition….(an 8000 ton ship takes more than a mile to turn around). In your organizational ship – we could narrow it down to two:
Financial investment - resource and time already spent in taking the product this far. This would be the expended cost that you may not be able to recover (and not including the opportunity cost and potential lost revenue for not launching as planned)
Emotional investment - the product has charted along this far as there was someone at the helm. Find out who…and their emotional investment (“the why are we building this”) in the project. Listen…no really listen (put your ego on a leash) - there is a good chance that someone did do their due diligence. Get down to what is different between the two directions.
Remember almost always, Emotional investment > Financial investment, though no one will admit it.
Walk the plank…
…and take a dive into the sea of customers. I’ve seen too many product managers spend time trying to figure out the company’s products and internal dynamics instead of understanding the customer. As a PM, your first task is to champion Voice of Customer. You can only do this by being your customer. Spend time at many different customers and learn their business – what they do, how they make money, their daily life, their challenges. And only then think about how your products fit in their context. Use analytics tools to further map their customer journey in your product and what they use most. You will be surprised. Voice of Customer is your Voice of Change.
Batten down the hatches
Timing is everything. Once you've lived the life of your customer and found out the prevailing internal winds - create your business case for current state and outcome vs. altered state and outcome on a time scale. Its easier to get on board with a new idea when there is a clear timeline of change.
And resistance is expected. Practice your Ethos (establish credibility), Pathos (connect emotionally), Logos (focus on facts)- “With my PM experience in ___ and having spent the last two months with the customer understanding their business and pain points ____ I can confidently say that these are the facts/trade-offs___on why we should change course.
More about the Author: Motorcyclist, engineer, and Calvin and Hobbes fanatic, Sid Nair is Sr. Director of Marketing & Product Management at Teletrac Navman. He currently leads product and UX teams to create the best SaaS fleet management platform for global transportation. Prior to Teletrac Navman, Sid held leadership roles at Magellan, Honeywell, Trimble and John Deere in both product development and strategy. He has worked on everything from connected cars, precision agriculture to aircraft landing systems, knowing that a great product needs a great team. Sid has a master’s degree in electrical engineering, specializing in avionics.