Organizing for Success in Product Management

By Laisha Daley, Executive Director of Product Management and product leader for Catalina’s HUB360 platform

No matter the industry, the pace of demand for innovative products and solutions continues to quicken. We’re constantly looking for new ways to understand customers better, measure their behaviors quickly and accurately, and form innovative partnerships that expand our offerings. To move multiple initiatives forward simultaneously as we respond to shifting market conditions, we’ve set some guiding principles for our people and our product management approach.

Always lead with empathy

Casting a vision for yourself and your team is critical so everyone knows where you’re headed, and it keeps everyone invested throughout the journey. Define and align around the problem you are trying to solve, set some ground rules and identify non-negotiables.

Scale yourself

As a Product Management leader, being the CEO of your product also means you need to scale yourself. It is impossible to know all things and be everywhere at once. To avoid burnout, work cross-functionally to move business objectives forward. Demonstrate social and emotional intelligence by cultivating – and leveraging - the diverse experiences of your teams. Avoid the “scorched earth” approach to leadership – you can’t truly be a leader if no one wants to follow you. Widen your lens by engaging colleagues with expertise outside your area who can broaden your understanding and positively influence your decisions. For instance, connect with technical or commercial experts for insights into a product launch or ongoing product support.

Get out of your own head

When faced with a challenge or critical decision, keep asking your team questions like, “How could we approach this? What is the best and simplest way to do it?” while staying focused on the end goal. Sometimes a new perspective – or constructive feedback - from someone who thinks differently can lead to a breakthrough.

Create wiggle room

Build in reasonable margin for handling tasks that weren’t part of your original plan. As much as we desire a smooth path forward, things often take an unexpected turn. New information from stakeholders may force you to take an alternate path or add a new priority in a later phase. Remain flexible and adapt based on new information, while keeping your eyes on the prize.

Keep Your Word

Simply put, your credibility rises and falls based on keeping your word. Give yourself and your team realistic timelines for completing tasks or deliverables. Communicate early if you encounter barriers that may prevent you from realizing your vision by the agreed-upon timeline.

Stay Humble

Be willing to be wrong and admit it. My pastor once said, “If you’re the boss and need to be seen as the boss all the time, you have a problem.” This really speaks to our motives and intentions as leaders. Don’t let pride get in your way. Have a teachable spirit and take the counsel of team members who are closest to the work.

Find the fun

You can execute with excellence AND have fun doing it. With my Product scrum teams, we’ve done just that, and it makes for a much more enjoyable and engaging experience. We name our product releases after bands and up the ante by playing songs by those bands as business and technology stakeholders join our virtual demo sessions. Our Mondays start with songs like “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers or U2’s “Beautiful Day”, energizing teammates around the world and focusing us on working together to create an amazing product our customers love.

Pulling it All Together – A Case Example

When we built our HUB360 platform, our vision was to create a stable, scalable and user-friendly experience, sharing brand, retail, and audience insights and measurement with retailers and marketers in real time, to help address key business questions and take action quickly. To focus our product development, we asked the team to look for a solution through the lens of our clients:
- Demonstrate empathy for the end user. Help clients glean the relevant and actionable insights so they can meet their business objectives.
- Steward compliance with company policies around security, privacy, and data governance.
- Create an incredible customer experience, including how we onboard new users, continuously engage users, and enable a continuous feedback loop for ways to improve.

To learn more about how Catalina can help you plan smarter, target better and optimize faster, visit us at HUB360 today.