Product managers guide the success of a product and are also responsible for leading and improving the cross-functional team. This is an important role in technology companies as it sets the roadmap, strategy, and definition of a product. The position may also comprise forecasting, marketing and profit and loss responsibilities. Product executives are important in a company because they provide deep product expertise needed to make well-planned product decisions. They analyze current market conditions and lay out a distinguished product vision to deliver unique value based on customer’s demands. As one such professional, Ethan Stiles plays an important role in providing cross-functional leadership skills in a company or business.
A product executive is a person who is responsible for describing the when, why and what of the product that has been built by the engineering team. He is responsible for guiding a team right from the product’s description up to the final stage of launching. All product managers should feel accountable for the following core aspects of leadership:
- Strategy: the executive is responsible for setting a product vision and policy. Their job is to communicate in a clear manner the business value to the product team so that they have a clear understanding of the intent behind the new product. Since the product manager owns the roadmap, he must prioritize his focus on building what matters most in order to achieve the strategic goals and initiatives behind the product.
- Releases: they must plan what their teams will deliver and also have a timeline for implementation. This is true regardless of the development methodology that is being used by the engineering team. The product business executive defines the release process and coordinates various activities needed to bring the product to the market. It involves bridging the gap between diverse functions within a company and aligns different teams involved such as sales, marketing, and customer support.
- Ideation: every organization appreciates the introduction of better ideas. However, it is not easy to manage them. Ethan Stiles has worked in product roles and business strategy for over 15 years and has been actively involved in the process of generating, curating and developing new ideas. He determines which ideas are best put into features to push the product strategy forward. He then communicates the status of these ideas back to partners, customers and the internal team.
The Various Responsibilities of Ethan Stiles
The process of building great products is stimulating. Successful products are built only when team members are committed, focused and passionate about their positions and perform to the best of their abilities. All this is made possible by a strong product manager who has a deep sense of responsibility for their role.
The role of a product business executive is influenced by various dynamics and depends on the type of company, the size of the company, the stage of the product, and the company’s culture. In most cases, his role will be to set a long-term vision and strategy and communicate this plan to all the relevant stakeholders and participants.
How Successful Product Managers Create Product Roadmaps
It is important for a product executive to understand that he plays a central role in making critical decisions regarding product, market, customers, competitors, key industries analysts, and many other areas.
For true success, he needs to frequently gather and analyze data from both internal and external sources and use this data to inform the development of his product roadmap. He will need to interact with various departments and stakeholders for the success of a product and translate the gathered data to build many decisions. Therefore, there are skills that he will need to bring to his role such as:
- Be transparent about roadmap success: various stakeholders will want an answer to the “why” question. For instance, why you are prioritizing a certain theme over another, why you are focusing on just one goal for a long period of time. In order to bring together all the executives on board, it is important to be clear and open about why certain decisions are made.
- Be able to say “No” but in terms that stakeholders understand: there are many times when an executive will follow his gut to introduce new features such as adding a specific tool to the next release. However, if those requests will undermine a manager’s strategic objectives for the product he has to decline the offers. He should be able to articulate in a clear manner the reasons as to why he cannot accommodate the request.
- Be a ruthless prioritizer: regardless of the size or budget of a company, there will always be a shortage of resources for the development of a product. That means a manager should know how to prioritize while continually weighing other factors of the product’s objectives, the resources, and demands from different stakeholders.
- Bring evidence-based decision making when communicating: one of the most effective ways for managers to communicate with their team members is to bring in evidence. It offers a more compelling reason for people to hear him out instead of just relying on personal opinion. An excellent source of business intelligence could be customer feedback, real-world user data or metrics on the product. This information will help others see how he is planning to build his roadmap. There are plenty of other ways to gather useful intelligence regarding the current market, products, and customers. One can ask consumers, study his competitor’s products and read online journals discussing similar products. When an executive or sales rep wants to know why a certain decision has been made, a manager’s ability to give a compelling explanation will help him earn trust. A business or product executive is in a unique position to define the success of his product. This is because he plays a vital role in gathering valuable intelligence from customers and stakeholders. Communication is therefore vital for the success of a company.