Product Management Survival – the 3 A’s

Recently, while watching an episode of Dual Survivors, one of the outdoor survivalist, Cody Lundin commented while exiting a challenging survival experience, “there are three things you need to survive any situation.” What can the experiences of two outdoor survivalist teach Product Managment and its leadership? Consider the 3 A’s: Adaptation, Awareness and Attitude.

Adaptation is key to any survival situation. When you think about product management, adaptation is an attribute that’s required. How often have you heard:

The CEO has decided we’re going Agile…

Product management is now reporting to….(fill in the blanks)   

Executive management is asking about product managements value and contribution.

Product management and especially its leadership has to adopt survivalist attributes and  quickly assess the current state, its changes and create an inventory of useable atrifacts focused on skills, talents and actionable methods product management may use to adapt to change.

If you or your team has to adapt to a change with organizational structure, available resources, roles and responsibilities or actionable events associated with product managements, how do you make the change and stay focused on managing the team and its portfolio?

In my past experience, I’ve found there are several things that support product management adaptation. They include:

  • Aligning and growing the “internal network.” Staying connected provides insight and advance notice of potential changes.
  • Analyzing and rating your skills and the capabilities of each team member. Whether you are a team of one or one hundred, be prepared to answer; “How are you (and your team) prepared for the new changes?”
  • Communication and insightful conversation can promote trust, awareness and leadership with you and your team.

Awareness – is not just seeing and hearing, but cognizant that a situation may be or could be present. In any survival situation its perception and understanding that keeps you alive.

Product management leaders and contributors have a responsibililty to be actively engaged,  aware and connected in understanding and acting on decisions that impact them. 

In a recent post on the Noble Pursuit of Power and Influence, Art Petty shares, “Power and influence provide the motive power behind organizations and initiatives and the lubrication that keeps the parts and people from binding and grinding and self-destructing.”

As a product management leader or contributor, are you seen as the power behind the organization and its initiatives, or a binding and grinding hurdle that’s unaware of what’s going on?

Attitude – determines outcomes and outcomes measure success. This applies to how product management rises to any occasion and sets the tone for change.

Lou Holtz, a former college football coach and current sport analyst once said; “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

Surviving, thriving and succeding in product management takes more than ability and motivation. It takes an attitude focused on action and sustainability. Product management teams should be the poster for surviving change without interruption.  

From a product management perspective, I’ll look for ways to explore the 3 A’s and hopefully you’ll add them to your survival strategy.

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