The Product Leadership Imperative: Part 1 – Doing the right things

Shifting the Focus from"Doing Things Right" to "Doing the Right Things"



The Product Industry is at an inflection point. Over the past 10-15 years, Product Management has emerged as a real profession and the industry has seen a great impact as we have gotten very good at building products. That being said, we still have a high failure rate for new product initiatives that is unacceptable. Just being good and efficient at building products right is not enough. We now need to shift the focus to doing the right things. This is a shift from Product Management to Product Leadership, from doing things right to doing the right things right. Let’s explore how we got here and what we can to address The Product Leadership Imperative.

The Golden Age of Product Management – Product Management as a Profession

Over the past 10-15 years, we have really experienced the Golden Age of Product Management. While the concept of Product Management for all intents and purposes was created in the 1930s, starting in 2005 and through present-day, the profession of Product Management and the Product industry has really be established. Through this period, we have gotten very good at Product Management. Once we have identified an opportunity for a product, we have become much better and more efficient at taking the opportunity from idea to product, and the products we are building are better than they have ever been. Through frameworks like Pragmatic Marketing, Stage-Gate, and the Lean Start-up we have built product management models and processes that help us more efficiently deliver better products. Through User-Centered Design and similar approaches, we have put the user and their needs at the center of our design and product. Through development methodologies like Agile, Scrum, and Scaled Agile we have improved the output and efficiency of our development organization. And certified project managers from PMI have helped us better manage projects and programs across our companies to align our efforts and ensure the timely delivery of these projects. We have become very good at “doing things right.”

The Elephant in the Room – Unacceptable Failure Rate of Initiatives

Even with this Golden Age of Product Management, there is an elephant in the room, the unacceptable failure rate of ne