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Paul Hamshere

Empowerment (Success Factor 4 of 20)

Empowering your product manager and team to deliver within a supportive ecosystem creates market success.

Empowerment (Success Factor 4 of 20)

What is the ideal outcome and what benefits will it bring?

Team empowerment becomes effective through the accomplishment of two key factors. Firstly, elevating the seniority and decision-making authority of the Product Manager within an organisation, enabling them to dedicate a substantial portion of their time to exerting influence across the company and ecosystem. As a result of this, the Product Manager empowers and enables their product team to achieve desired outcomes in support of the vision and strategy. By adopting this approach, not only is the product aligned with customer needs, but it also guarantees long-term success in the market. Furthermore, team empowerment yields various advantages. It instills team motivation by nurturing a sense of ownership, instilling accountability, and valuing their input. This, in turn, results in expedited, well-informed decision-making and less reliance on steering groups.

What changes have we seen in the market?

In the traditional approach, Product Managers have primarily concentrated on the daily aspects of product development in collaboration with the broader product team. While this has led to the creation of numerous exceptional products and services, it does not guarantee success in the market if the product lacks a robust go-to-market strategy or long-term support from the business.

The role of a Product Manager has undergone a notable shift in recent years. Previously, around 80% of their time was dedicated to driving the product team, while a mere 20% was allocated to advocating for support. However, in leading organisations, this balance has been reversed, resulting in highly empowered product managers and teams. This transformation has proven instrumental in driving success and delivering exceptional outcomes.

Modern organisations empower product managers to collaborate effectively across cross-functional teams, bridging gaps between departments and fostering better communication and alignment.

Where Product Managers focus day to day has seen a material shift to influencing across the company and ecosystem.

What successful examples have we seen?

A study by Deloitte found that companies that empower their product teams are better positioned to navigate digital disruption, stay competitive and were 50% times more likely to achieve digital transformation success.

Take a look at Telstra…

In 2019, the telecommunications company shifted their ways of working to allow product managers and teams to collaborate more quickly and easily to deliver better, faster outcomes for their customers. By transforming into a agile organisation, focusing more efforts on company culture and upskilling teams, this empowered their product managers and teams to be more pivotal and more widely scoped across the product ecosystem.

Where should you start?

  • How much time do Product Managers spend day to day with their product teams vs influencing the wider company ecosystem?
  • Are product teams empowered to make autonomous decisions?
  • Are product managers given the responsibility to drive the direction and vision of their respective products? If not, why so?
  • Is there a culture of cross-functional collaboration, where product teams can collaborate effectively with other departments (e.g. marketing and sales)?
  • At what point are you currently positioned on this maturity scale, and what benefits would your customers and business gain by advancing further?

Test & Learn Culture is one of IE’s 20 success factors. To learn more, read our first article, ‘Winning in a Product-Led World’.

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