Achieve Leadership Results: Here are 7 Ways for you to Gain Product Momentum
It is no secret that a product manager needs momentum in areas such as product development, product sales and customer adoption in order to succeed. As a product leader, you need momentum to gain executive buy-in as well as engineering and marketing resources so that you can create interest and awareness around your product. Without support from stakeholders to access the resources you need, your product could fail.
This seems like a lot of pressure to succeed right? Well, luckily we have outlined the different ways you can build momentum and succeed as a product leader. Embracing a growth mindset, communicating a product vision and strategy and striving for early-market success are all steps toward growth and prosperity.
1. Build Momentum: Getting Started
As a product manager, you can only build momentum by getting started. Therefore, taking action with your team or organization is a priority. Even if the first step is wrong and doesn’t work out, you have to start somewhere. It can be helpful to write a to-do list of small actions that can help get the ball rolling such as: ‘determine product title’ or ‘call customer’. Any type of action can build momentum.
It is important to use daily and weekly meetings to maintain that momentum and to implement monthly and quarterly meetings to make sure the strategic direction is being followed. Empower your colleagues to ask questions and raise any concerns that can be worked through. Keep the dialogue open, ask questions and seek answers so that the momentum doesn’t fizzle out.
2. Embrace a Growth Mindset
An optimistic product leader will believe there is always a way forward and that any failure can be turned into an opportunity. All failures are a portal to gaining new knowledge. As Babe Ruth once said, "Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." Embracing this growth mindset allows for product leaders to seize failures and turn them into opportunities. In baseball, you might become a legend even if you fail 7 times out of 10. So, instead of thinking of failures as inescapable obstacles, successful product leaders can capitalize on these types of setbacks, find ways to overcome them and build momentum to drive the product vision forward.
3. Capitalizing Knowledge, Technical Expertise and Empathy
Product managers are motivated creators that pour energy and passion into every aspect of their work. Keeping momentum requires them to have a deep understanding and knowledge of the medium, industry, market and audience. Furthermore, technical expertise and knowledge (such as in technology and user experience design) can also help product leaders to earn trust from executives, coworkers, and peers. If they trust your expertise and knowledge, they are more inclined to buy-in to your product vision.
Furthermore, product leaders must apply as much empathy as they can. They need to understand their peer’s motivations so that it is much easier to align their goals together. A combination of answering these core questions, creating consistency and setting expectations can all help teams run more efficiently. There can be no momentum without proper and solid leadership.
For more on the topic of empathy and how it is a key to building great products, check out one of our previous posts: Empathy is the Mother of all Product Roadmaps.
4. Communicate your Roadmap, Vision and Product Strategy
This is another approach to achieving real product outcomes. It is essential to communicate often with internal and external stakeholders and articulate your product vision, strategy and roadmap. Even if there are small changes to your product roadmap, convey the big picture and the paths you will take to fulfill your product vision. It is important to make sure all stakeholders feel included so that they feel they are part of the product vision and decision. This makes it easier to get buy-ins from stakeholders.
For more on the topic of building a shared understanding of the product strategy through repetition, check out one of our previous posts: Lather, rinse, REPEAT! Becoming a CRO (Chief Repeating Officer).
5. Earn Customer Capital
Making decisions based on assumptions without the proper research, discovery and validation could bring your team in the wrong direction, halting your momentum. You cannot simply assume that your product will meet your target users’ need. Don’t hold on to internal opinions. Seek external validation from your users and use customer insights for better clarity.
Instead of grasping onto internal opinions, show that you have spoken to real potential customers who are likely to buy your product. You can even gather data that proves user behaviour (such as web analytics data) to help show initiative and gain that momentum.
6. Earn Political Capital
In terms of political capital, get buy-ins and the backing from stakeholders. Product leaders need help from an executive support base in order to succeed and accomplish their product goals. The biggest challenge is that unless there is an internal buy-in as well as a vision in place linked to a specific need (or gap that needs to be addressed), most of your team won’t hear your ideas. Does the CEO provide general direction? When was the last time you brought an innovative idea to the CEO's attention? Where can communication be improved?
Make a business case on why the company cannot ignore an opportunity. Define how you’d like the executive team to handle it and confirm the approach by clearly articulating how the product will benefit the organization in the next years. Once you’ve made the case proving why the company must seize the opportunity you have presented to them, the executive leadership team can then uniquely lead, guide and ponder the broader direction of the organization.
For more on the topic of making your CEO provide a clear vision, check out one of our previous posts: Product managers, make your CEO provide a clear vision.
7. Strive for Early Market Success
If you can build an MVP, launch it and get early market success you can win over any product doubters. Planning and executing a product launch helps to generate sales which then inevitably helps the company grow and prosper. Adding more customers, expanding your influence and hiring more people all lead to gaining momentum. Numbers are worth more than a thousand words. If there is early success with an MVP, it provides evidence to stakeholders which means it is more convincing to have their buy-in to the product vision. This is the momentum that will help accelerate the product growth and bring the company to the next level.
Thanks to Paul Ortchanian and Charles Mon for reading drafts of this article and overseeing aspects of its publication. The photo can be found on the free stock photo site Pexels. Also, if you have any feedback or criticism about this article then shoot us an email email@example.com.
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The following is a quotation from the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that illustrates the powerful concept of momentum:
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back — Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."
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