Roles, responsibilities, and seniority

  • product vision and strategy: usually takes around 10% of a head of product’s time. Defining the product vision is defining what the product will look like in the future. What do you want the product to be when it grows? And strategy is the way to reach the vision. Building product vision and strategy is a job that the head of product does in collaboration with the company’s founders, senior management, and the board, with input from all areas of the company and the customer. I will talk more about building vision and strategy in the following chapters.
  • help product managers in their development: depending on the seniority of your team, this will take around 10% to 40%. The more junior and inexperienced, the more time you will have to dedicate to the development of your team. I will talk later about some of the Tools important for the development of your team. 1: 1 meetings, team meetings, evaluation and feedback, product council, product review, and team organization.
  • expectations management: at least half of your time will be devoted to expectations management, reaching up to 80%. In ​​product development and, mainly, when leading digital products, there is no “excessive communication”. There will always be someone who has expectations about the product and is not yet aware of its vision and strategy. With many companies with whom I talk about digital products, I hear a very common complaint that the area of ​​product development is a black box. And that generates a lot of expectations from other areas, which need their product pains to be resolved. On the other hand, the product development team also has expectations, wants to know what the product vision is, what is the strategy, the roadmap, the priorities. The best way to manage these expectations is through communication. As mentioned above, the Tools that will be presented later will be very useful for managing expectations.

Seniority levels

TIME

KNOWLEDGE

BEHAVIOR

  • be ethical, be a person with integrity and the right intention;
  • have alignment with the company’s values ​​and culture;
  • have alignment and commitment to the company’s purpose;
  • have alignment and commitment to the company’s strategic objectives.
  • Objectives: all companies have objectives. All companies have quantifiable objectives and targets are set to help achieve those objectives. A well-known method for setting objectives and quantifying results is OKR. Some companies even use these targets to define their employees’ variable compensation, also known as bonus policy. Invariably, once targets are set, things change. And even when everything is stable, it may be necessary to do work unrelated to the targets. Someone with behavioral seniority understands that things change, that their work is not limited to previously agreed targets, and will do whatever is necessary. Someone without behavioral seniority will say that she cannot change or do anything other than what is defined as her target.
  • Complaining: as we all know, sometimes things do not go as we expect. That’s how life is. And there are always people who complain. And it is always someone else’s fault and there are always many excuses to explain why things did not go as we expected. Complaining without doing anything to help resolve the situation is typical behavior for someone who has no behavioral seniority. A senior person, when facing problems, tries to understand what happened, without looking for the culprits. She searches for a solution to the problems and tries to understand how to prevent these problems from occurring again.

What is your seniority?

Summing up

  • The head of product is responsible for coordinating the definition of the product vision and strategy, for helping product managers in their development, and for managing the expectations of all people who have an interest in your product.
  • A very important concept to help a head of product with his responsibilities is the concept of seniority, which has 3 dimensions, two well known, time and knowledge, and a third one not so known, but just as important as the others, the seniority of behavior.

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Digital product development advisor, mentor, board member. And open water swimmer!

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Joca Torres

Joca Torres

Digital product development advisor, mentor, board member. And open water swimmer!

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