If you want raise the level of product management influence, think like an executive. Consider the various situations your senior executives find themselves in and the types of information that help them make more informed decisions. Then make it a routine practice to brief your executives accordingly. Make your executives look good and watch the product management influence skyrocket.
Whether it’s a meeting with fellow executives, the board, investors or a company communication meeting, there are two things that have universal value to executives of all disciplines.
1. Broad Market Dynamics & New Business Practices
The topic of strategic direction is a staple of every executive-level meeting. There’s nothing more uncomfortable for an executive than being in a position where they have to wing it and still come across like they’re in the know. It’s not that your executive briefings need to have all the answers. They just have to help executives demonstrate they’re well versed on the right issues.
To that end, brief your executives on broad industry trends occurring in your target markets and how those trends are impacting the strategies and spending priorities of your target customers.
For example, if you target mortgage lenders, brief your executives on how the residential real estate market and new regulations are dictating the top-down strategies of mortgage lenders, where they’re investing strategically and why. Include investment initiatives that are related to your business, as well as those that aren’t, to demonstrate a grasp of the entire market landscape.
Take it one step further to improve the relevance factor by briefing your executives on the latest operational business practices within those target markets. For example, a new business practice for mortgage lenders (because of the above trends) is tracking the credit profile of customers throughout the life of a loan to gain earlier insights into customers who are becoming a higher risk. This allows mortgage lenders to take action before it’s too late.
To paint the bigger picture, brief your executives on business practices for the activities that are most relevant to your products, as well as those that surround them. It demonstrates your ability to think in broader terms and uncover bigger problems. If there are technology trends that are driving either of the above elements, be sure to include those in your briefings as well.
2. Portfolio Investment Options
Executives hate the hair-on-fire scenarios like, “we have to do _________ or we’re out of the market.” Even if it’s true, resist the temptation. Using the market information, present your executives with three go-forward portfolio investment options so that in any situation, they come across as well-prepared.
Frame your three investment options as high, medium and low risk vs. high, medium and low reward. Present these options in the context of portfolio investments aimed at broad scale market needs to keep it strategic. The critical components of each scenario should include the following:
- Target market segments (e.g.,tier 2 mortgage lenders in the U.S., tier 1 banks in western Europe)
- High-impact problems or opportunities that are directly related to strategic industry initiatives.
- Investment estimates required to address those needs.
- Competitive landscape.
- Short and long term growth/profitability potential for your organization.
Brief your executives no less than twice a year. If the dynamics of your target markets move faster, conduct your briefings accordingly. Do your homework thoroughly and make these executive briefings routine such that executives expect and look forward to them.
The by-product of these executive briefings is a huge bonus that comes in the form of strategic influence. Once your team develops a cadence of delivering useful information, the gap between corporate goals and your portfolio strategy is gone. After all, if everything in your organization revolves around products – and it usually does – shouldn’t product teams be in the best position to lead the charge?
If you’re managing products as individual entities and the cumulative impact of all product strategies isn’t perceived as strategic, contact Proficientz to learn how our product portfolio management framework, training programs and consulting services can elevate the influence of of your product management team.