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.


Ken Norton

April 11, 2013


  1. 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)
  2. 7.
  3. 10.
  4. 22.

    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).
  5. 31.

    1. “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them

    what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” (General George Patton)
  6. 35.

    Clear obstacles. Always take the blame. Ask smart questions. Explain

    the “why.” Empathize. Bring the donuts.
  7. 37.

    Know their number. Get on the phone with customers. Make

    promises so they don’t have to. Help them be creative. Bring the donuts.
  8. 41.

    Understand what they want. Call them out of the blue.

    Keep your promises. Take the blame. Bring the donuts.
  9. 42.
  10. 50.

    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?
  11. 56.

    The right question: “What needs to happen for you to

    finish, and what can I do to help?”
  12. 59.

    Pessimistic estimate (P): “OK, but what’s the longest it could

    take, accounting for unforeseen roadblocks?”