Mid-Week Mix: Product Management Politics

Practical politics consist in ignoring facts ~ Henry B. Adams
We all know there are politics in every organization. While practical politics may consist of ignoring facts, product management cannot afford to play the ignorance game
How can product management and its leaders avoid politics? Here are three things I believe we can do:
  1. Avoid gut instinct – whether it’s a product, business or strategy decision, you’d better have evidence and validation in hand. Without the two, you’re letting someone else play politics without vital facts.
  2. Avoid being the gridlock – if you or your team lack a common product management language, consistent execution, collaboration and communications, you may be blindsided by “stealth” or unplanned projects by those with other motives.
  3. Avoid being valueless – visible and measurable contribution build value. Value builds credibility in product management. Without value, underlying politics will begin to question your value. 

The list could go on, but there are things we should do. They include:

  1. Find ways to build value and credibility in product management and use this to fight how ignoring facts can damage the organization.
  2. Stay connected. Keeping your head down isn’t a smart alternative to self-preservation.
  3. Keep conversations open, honest and constructive. Every discussion and meeting needs an agenda, purpose and focus.

Jennifer Doctor, Product Marketing Manager for Sage Software and I will be sharing more at the Seattle Product Camp on October 23.

If you can’t make it, we’ll post the session and others will post via Twitter. Next week, I’ll bring more thoughts and insight to The Politics of Product Management.

In the meantime, check out these great links:

The Noble Pursuit of Power and Influence by Art Petty.

The Big Company Survival Kit for Startup PMs by Paul Young

Company Politics are Counterproductive from a USA Today article 1994

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