Product Management – Where we go from here survey results

A few weeks ago, I posted a survey for product management and product marketing’s input. This was driven by my desire to better focus on my contribution to the community. With over 100 product management blogs, numerous discussion groups on LinkedIn and a Twitter stream that flows with hundreds of followers (try hashtags #prodmgmt or #prodmktg), I wanted to know what fresh information and experiences I bring to product managements journey.

First, thanks to the 70 people who responded to the survey. The responses were great and I was impressed with the intimacy and detail of information and ideas shared. For those who didn’t take the survey, it’s consisted of several multiple choice style questions that supported multiple responses and several open-ended question where respondent could comment, state opinions, and share ideas. So, let’s review the results and some comments and observations.

Roles and Responsibilities – the percentages don’t lie and it appears there’s a balance of product management and product marketing roles. However, it would be interesting to know what’s driving the dual roles. Is it out of necessity (economic pressures require you to wear more than one hat), organizational expectations (we’re not large enough or understand the role differentiation) or personal desire (I want to contribute more.)  

Connections, Longevity and Value – The next question validated what most of us already knew. Birds of a feather, flock together and product management isn’t any different. We enjoy meeting, learning and commiserating with each other about product management and product marketing. Live events and interaction along with social media are how we expand our knowledge.

While its great to see a large percentage value the community aspects offered product management, I am surprised at the percentage who do not have a mentor or may be searching for one. Why? Perhaps the next question may provide some insight.

Depending on how you interpret the data, approximately 40-45% of product management and product marketing teams have been organized less than 5 years, while 9% responded their organizations doesn’t recognize product management and product marketing.

If your organization is less than 5 years old, who is mentoring product management and product marketing? Does it come from an executive? Is it located in an area where you previously reported such as marketing or development,  or someplace else like the product management community?

If you’re working in the 9% of organizations that “don’t get” (value product management) and you need some points on how to better position your role with executives or other stakeholders, I would recommend reading The Strategic Role of Product Management by Pragmatic Marketing or  Product Management – The Conscience of Every Product Company by John Mansour of Zig Zag Marketing.

Product Management Priorities – to better understand the most pressing issues, I asked, “What areas of Product Management and Product Marketing do you find the most challenging?” This was an open question and the responses varied. The following topics surfaced most often:

  • Managing expectations, limited budgets and no REAL power
  • Building, organizing, mentoring and maintaining actionable teams
  • Guiding product portfolios and communicating roadmaps
  • Stakeholder management
  • Communications – balancing business with technical – gaining consensus

Where Do We Go From Here? – in my post by the same name, I shared that my goal was to provide aspiring and current leaders of the Product Management and Product Marketing with a place to collaborate, read about experiences of others, apply new best practices and inspire action. It’s not my intent to do this alone and I will often ask other experienced leaders inside and outside product management and product marketing to regularly contribute or we’ll collaborate on content with you in mind. As alway, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

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  • Jennifer Doctor  On September 2, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    This is interesting. I wonder if the results come to a single point of convergence around the fact that as a discipline, product professionals (product management & product marketing) do not have a long established leading “authority” to reference. We have a few training companies, and a few tool companies, but no single source of a “best model” displaying leadership – that is shared. We are a relatively small community in the businessworld, and yet we seem to often bicker amongst ourselves to “gain attention” instead of coming together to learn and foster. The lack of people involved in mentor relationships or who are still searching for a source for growth is frankly disturbing. We seem to be waiting for leaders to step forward, instead of taking the control and creating our own. The communities that have formed are taking the first step, but it appears that we need to eat our own dog food and do a better job at promoting and growing the opportunities.

    We need to take control of our own leadership and growth, since it is obvious no one has assumed that role.

    (And, I would say this for any role in business.)

    • Product Management Tribe  On September 2, 2010 at 1:35 pm

      Jennifer – I appreciate your insights and comments and agree with your observations. While there tends to be a lot of content focused on the profession of product management, the discipline 1) suffers from a lack of leading authority 2) in many situations, the leadership in place has limited experience in defining and building actionable teams, 3) other internal and external influences get in the way of leaders stepping up or forward.

      In the end, product management will either flounder in its role and be absorbed into where it came from, or make a difference in the success of the organization.

  • jerjer  On September 8, 2010 at 7:26 am

    I appreciate your insights and comments and agree with your observations.


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