5 Tips Transitioning To Product Management From ANY Background in 2021 (2 of 5)
Welcome back! This post is the second in a five-part series. I briefly cover five tips to help transition from another career into Product Management and beyond. If you want to start from the beginning, take a moment to jump back to the first post. Don’t worry about getting lost. I have a link at the bottom to help you find your way on back. With that out of the way, let’s get to it!
Tip #2 — Understand Your Company VISION
Author Simon Sinek started a movement in 2009 with his now-famous book (and TED talk) titled: “Start With Why.” In the book, Sinek posits that people will not buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand its WHY.
Similarly, a Product Manager should know the WHY of:
- Their company.
- The company products.
- Features that make up those products.
- The customers who use those products
- Competitors who want to take those customers.
I should also note that the customers should also know the WHY on each bullet point above. As the PM, you need to help guide them to that knowledge. If you find it challenging to articulate WHY your company exists and its value to the world, pump the brakes a bit and take some time to find out. It will help out a lot moving forward!
A company’s Vision represents the WHY for a company.
A Vision is an imagination of a far-reaching future crafted by strong opinions, experience, and intuition about what that future could or should be. A Vision doesn’t concern itself with the interim details but instead focuses on the possible. True Vision is defined enough to be a guiding constant yet vague enough not to be involved with or cornered into specifics.
For a company to thrive, it must have a strong Vision and someone who defines that Vision. In most companies, that person is the Founder or CEO. A well-established Vision set’s the table for the rest of the work and focus of the company.
One of my favorite examples of how strong Vision unifies a company is that of SpaceX and founder Elon Musk, whose Vision states:
“SpaceX was founded under the belief that a future where humanity is out exploring the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one where we are not.”
Given this Vision statement, it makes sense that SpaceX and its sister company, Tesla, would focus on innovation and businesses that progress towards the Vision of exploring space. Humans would need reusable rockets, solar power, electric transportation, and so forth to do so. A casual observer of the news and current events could likely state the Vision of SpaceX and Tesla. Similarly, your company and products should work towards such clarity when it comes to Vision.
Given that Product Managers are responsible for setting the Vision for the products they oversee. How could one effectively do this without knowing the company’s Vision?
What should you do if your company doesn’t have a company Vision? First off, I would say this could be a red flag depending on your company situation. In any case, it should cause some pause, and I would suggest you bring this up in an appropriate way with your manager. If that is not something you are ready to do right away, put on your research hat and start some casual conversations within your company. Ask others what they think the company vision is. Take some notes and use that knowledge to write your personal company Vision statement.