12 February 2011
Leading a product development endeavour can be enormously rewarding, but it is also one of the most uncertain journeys you can undertake. Leadership is complex and product leadership is no exception. Product leaders need something to hold on to, a mental model of sorts. This article presents some things I would cling to if I were a captain of the seas.
To Boldly Go…
One perspective on leading is that it is like convincing a group of people to go places where they have never been. It could even be the case that nobody has been there before.
In order to do this the following conditions are really useful:
- a clear idea of where you going
- a general plot on how to get there, the routes you will take
- a fairly accurate way of determining where you are
- an unstoppable determination to arrive
22 October 2010
– Welcome to this month’s public progress meeting on the latest FSA development!
Everybody in the room, about thirty people, slowly quieted down as Kathrine, the product leader, opened the meeting. Kathrine turned 38 years old on this day and had been working for the Eastern College of Business for five years now. She was generally regarded as the expert on foreign-country students and quite passionate about them too.
Faced with a horrible situation of fewer applications and employee burn-outs, management had given Kathrine free hands to “fix things”, as they had put it. And she had come through for them. She was the driving force behind the remarkable developments within the organisational processes handling applications from foreign students these past years. Although the number of foreign applications had increased 40% these last five years, the time from last day of application to the sending of the admittance decisions had gone from 3 months to 12 days. At the same time, employee satisfaction had gone from 45% to 87%.
Right next to Kathrine sat the other members of the development team. They looked calm and content. Peter, the testing specialist and Johanna, the lead programmer were chatting and giggling quietly. The audience was the usual crowd. They were mostly officers of the Student Applications department, but also a few newcomers, mostly managers looking nervously around. “Transparency rookies, better watch out”, Kathrine thought to herself.