A Day in the Life of a Product Management Consultant
Is something broken in your team’s product management? If the answer is yes, you’re in the right place. At Bain Public, we help build roadmaps and innovative products for early-stage companies.
How, you ask?
Meet George Korkejian, he joined our team last summer and dedicated himself to supporting entrepreneurs through Bain Public. As a product management consultant, he acts as a coach and a mentor to his clients, providing them with frameworks that guide them toward making the best product decisions. It’s not about gut feeling: George presents his clients with the best ways to gather input from the team, collect consumer insights, validate market needs, as well as justify investments for C-suite stakeholders to make decisions collectively.
George plays an enthusiastic role in the maintenance and development of the roadmap output for Bain Public’s customers. He goes out of his way to identify the product’s most important mission, ensuring all of the best ideas are heard and that all client-side stakeholders are engaged in the product lifecycle management. George works with his clients to unpack any challenges they face, build new insights and gather information from every perspective.
"We play a subtle yet impactful role in the creation of great products. We are there as a support system, offering our clients the frameworks to make the right decisions."
Different from a board member, a product management consultant does not instruct a CEO and the product leadership team how to run the company. Influence, partner alignment and collaboration become key, showing support, candour and transparency about how they view the state of the product, including its challenges and opportunities.
Product Management Consultant: a Coach and a Mentor
George spends his days meeting with client-side C-suite executives and their product managers. He coaches them through the entire process of how to bring forward the next innovative product features within the company, as well as collecting and collating ideas, ensuring they validate the market need and include input from everyone on the decision-making team.
Part of the product management consultant process includes presenting a client with Bain Public’s 3-month product management capability building program. This is a consistent program focused on adopting a structured process in prioritizing product features and roadmapping.
"We will coach you, mentor you, teach you and provide you with the frameworks to either become a product-oriented company or provide you with that clarity to be more organized and structured in your decision-making."
This approach starts with the product management consultant analyzing and auditing the entire company, including the business model, competitors and market, and doing a deep dive within the product ecosystem and existing customers. He or she will then try and identify where it hurts the most, what needs to be built and how to make it incrementally monetizable, gathering the team’s input along the way. Once this is complete, a business case of what should be developed within the next few months is presented for further recommendations through a roadmap, which is then passed on to the final decision-making team.
So what’s the big secret behind ensuring this capability-building program runs without a hitch?
The Key to Successful Coaching
One of the gateways to success is communication. Listening is the key to effective coaching.
"It’s really about listening. It’s what we teach the product managers. Their job isn’t to tell people what to do; it’s to listen and gather information. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good or not so great idea; you can’t make that call in a matter of minutes. You need to listen, understand why they brought their idea to the table and then analyze it objectively in detail through the framework put in place. This will ultimately allow the team to determine the best way to move forward."
Consultants aren’t just listening to the problems within the company, but within the product, the team and the market itself. The big question to ask is: ‘What are we trying to solve every time we have a discussion, every time we want to build something else?’ Listening is what leads to figuring out potential solutions to problems. It’s about gathering all of the information and providing clients with suggestions and recommendations to guide them toward these solutions.
Addressing the Day-to-Day Challenges
One of the biggest challenges as a product management consultant is learning to defuse grenades. These are influential individuals within a company who are not necessarily aligned with certain upcoming features or ideas. These are the people that have a strong say in the evolution of the company, which can be difficult to manage.
Part of George’s approach is to have numerous discussions before and after meetings to make sure everyone’s voice is being heard. It’s about spending time with them to understand their perspective.
"Although we are more in a backseat role and not an active product manager, we still need to show that our input is credible as an influencer. It can become difficult at times to manage a relationship with a grenade holder in a company, but it’s rewarding if we work through it in the right way. We have to always keep in mind that we are working toward the same objectives and company mission."
The trick is not to be defensive when approaching a grenade. According to George, you should never push a plan or an idea on someone who won’t be receptive to it. Understand the reason behind their hesitancy, and they might bring up more valid points than anticipated.
Seeing the Positive Results
One of the biggest wins for George is helping clients see the value in what Bain Public offers as a product management consultancy, providing them with the frameworks, blueprints and roadmaps to give them the clarity they need to move forward as a business and develop the best products. When the right structures are in place, it means the teams are aligned, and when the teams are aligned, everyone is much more motivated to succeed.
"As a product management consultant you encourage, you inspire, you lead, you organize, you manage. At the end of the day, you let the team decide because you showcased the pros and cons of everything, and ultimately you believe you did a good enough job to help them move forward."
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Bain Public offers consistent roadmap planning processes & tools for business leaders and product managers organized around what motivates, inspires and improves growth. We offer a variety of blog posts, e-books and approaches designed to help organizations understand their digital strategies, introduce elements of roadmapping and establish product-led change amongst the senior leaders and managers. Our approach, product, expert advice and coaching helps entangle complex technology, people and roadmap dynamics. For more information, visit bainpublic.com or call 514–442–8487.
Thanks to Paul Orthchanian and Gabrielle Drouin for reading drafts of this article and overseeing aspects of its publication. Also, if you have any feedback or criticism about this article, then shoot us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.