Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Good Product Management and Delegation?

What does it mean to delegate as a Good Product Manager?
I found myself at a site on "Good Product Management" that recommended delegation as an important tool. This led to some discussion on what it means for a product manager to delegate responsibilities. Some bloggers were of the opinion that delegation is irrelevant to a product manager- he should be focused on helping others get their job done within an integrated product management framework.

I don't think the two viewpoints are different. They are really only approaching the same idea from different perspectives. Let me explain.

The Dynamic View: Fire, Fire Everywhere!
Having been involved in a massive product turnaround, I can attest to the fact that you will find ample opportunity to get sucked into fires (a reference to "The Goal"). These fires are not just specific high visibility issues, but also cases involving process variance/ risk factors where you have leaders defined and contingency plans in place. This is a dynamic view in product management reality.

Should you step into each case? What's the best way to do so? Or should you let the defined leader find a way? Should you step back and spend your time drafting "Integrated Product Management" processes for each exception?

The Static View: We Have a Magic Bullet!
At the other end of the product management spectrum, you risk complacency (we are only getting started here) when you think you have the right "chess pieces" with the right processes in place, when you are in a dynamic business environment that will unflinchingly sneak problems past your Product Management framework. This is the static view in product management reality.

A product manager may thrive with a static perspective of his role thanks to serendipity.

Dynamic Solutions to Dynamic Environments
While being a facilitator is important, a product manager is likely to find himself working toward building levers and an ecosystem that improves outcomes.

This is essentially change management. Similar to the decision making of a good general manager, who realizes the limitations of the environment he operates in, a good product manager will wisely exercise judgement in taking up tasks- even choosing tactical tasks- toward change.

What do you think?

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