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Leading cross-functional teams and the product manager

Leading cross-functional teams and the product manager

What I wish I'd known before I became a PM.

More of my writing and speaking at Bring the Donuts.

Ken Norton

April 11, 2013
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  1. Leading Cross-Functional Teams
    Ken Norton
    VP, Products
    JotSpot, Inc.

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  2. What am I going to talk about
    • A disjointed set of learnings
    • What I wish I’d known before
    • (There will only be two formulas)

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  3. Here’s the good news.

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  4. You have the resources.

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  5. You are completely accountable.

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  6. You are ready to go.

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  7. You have no authority.

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  8. And everyone is skeptical.

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  9. Without sales,
    nobody would sell.
    Without engineering,
    nobody would build.
    Without support,
    customers would riot.

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  10. Without product managers?

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  11. Life would be just fine.

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  12. (For a while.)

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  13. Organizational structure:
    What you are working with

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  14. What you’ve probably learned:

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  15. Functional organization.
    PM

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  16. Weak matrix.
    PM

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  17. Strong matrix.
    PM

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  18. What you actually find.

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  19. The real world.
    PM

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  20. The reality.
    • You will not be closely supervised.
    • Little to no authority will be handed to you.
    • You will not have direct managerial oversight for
    the people who work on your stuff.
    • You will be highly accountable for success
    (or lack thereof).

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  21. The team:
    Who you are working with

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  22. 7 ± 2
    Ideal team size.

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  23. 7 ± 2
    (That’s the first formula).

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  24. Always trust your instincts.

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  25. If you don’t have the right team, get it.

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  26. There is nothing more important to
    invest “political capital” on.

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  27. Communicating:
    How you are working with
    who you are working with

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  28. There are only three things
    you need to remember.

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  29. 1.
    “Never tell people how to do things.
    Tell them what to do and they will
    surprise you with their ingenuity.”
    (General George Patton)

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  30. 2.
    Communicate to different people
    in their own language.

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  31. 3.
    Represent the points of view of the
    people not in the room.

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  32. How to get respect from engineers.

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  33. Clear obstacles.
    Always take the blame.
    Ask smart questions.
    Explain the “why.”
    Empathize.
    Bring the donuts.

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  34. How to get respect from sales.

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  35. Know their number.
    Get on the phone with customers.
    Make promises so they don’t have to.
    Help them be creative.
    Bring the donuts.

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  36. How to get respect from executives.

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  37. Have a vision.
    Be patient.
    Know your competition.
    Make your commitments.
    Bring the donuts.

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  38. How to get respect from customers.

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  39. Understand what they want.
    Call them out of the blue.
    Keep your promises.
    Take the blame.
    Bring the donuts.

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  40. Always Be Shipping.

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  41. Nothing helps a team become efficient
    more than a steady release tempo.

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  42. Agile development.

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  43. Can be extremely effective.

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  44. But requires hard work and experience.

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  45. If you do nothing else…

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  46. Have a fifteen minute daily meeting.

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  47. Ask your team three questions:
    • What have you completed since our last meeting?
    • What will you have done by tomorrow’s meeting?
    • What’s standing in your way and how can I help?

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  48. Estimating work.

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  49. Product Manager:
    “When can you get this done? Today?”

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  50. Engineer:
    “Well, I think it needs more time.”

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  51. Product Manager:
    “We need it ASAP.
    What about tomorrow by end of day?”

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  52. Engineer:
    “Uh, OK.”

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  53. The right question:
    “What needs to happen for you to finish,
    and what can I do to help?”

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  54. Rule of thumb for estimates.

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  55. Likely estimate (L):
    “How long do you think it will take?”

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  56. Pessimistic estimate (P):
    “OK, but what’s the longest it could take,
    accounting for unforeseen roadblocks?”

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  57. Optimistic estimate (O):
    “What’s the least amount of time
    required if everything goes well?”

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  58. O + (L x 4) + P
    6
    What you plan.

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  59. Another rule of thumb for estimates.

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  60. Never assume more than 5 hours of
    progress per developer per day.

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