Culture, Teams & Leadership

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Product Management after the pandemic

  • 1.  Product Management after the pandemic

    Posted 05-14-2020 11:16

    I have read some articles (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/business/coronavirus-china-work-safety.html,https://hbr.org/2020/04/preparing-your-business-for-a-post-pandemic-world ) and watched TV news about the reopening of the US business sector after the pandemic. However, I was wondering how this would affect Product Managers and Developers? The most productive and innovative Product Teams I have been associated with work closely together often in the same buildings. They meet in person on an ongoing basis to work on problems and determine needs for new products. How will this change as people go back to work?



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    Rose Klimovich
    Manhattan College
    Riverdale NY
    9083134641
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  • 2.  RE: Product Management after the pandemic

    Posted 05-15-2020 16:17
    Hi Rose,

          that's a great question, I am not based in the US but I can tell you that this has been affecting my work. I am a product manager and I workd in product development from ideation to launch and eventhough I work with a global team that most of it is abroad so I am working remotely in a big chunk of the time but I have big team locally whom I meet on regular basis and eventhough virtual discussions can get it done but the human interaction will remain the best at all times as you get to see the body language and have the presence that enables the people to have more authentic discussion and experience.

    Also the coffee talks, corridor discussions, all of this is non existent in the virtual world unless you schedule it.

    I believe that this an opportunity to a trend of new solutions to solve this problem. A crazy idea is the hologram solutions, eventhough infrastructure and technologys has long time to be ammortized and be at the reasonable price and easier solution as having it in the camera of your laptop :-D

    I hope this answers your question

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    Seif Abdelghany
    Local Category Manager
    Electrolux Major Appliance
    10th of Ramadan
    seif.abdelghany@gmail.com
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  • 3.  RE: Product Management after the pandemic

    Posted 05-18-2020 22:13
    Great question, Rose!
    I have typically worked on diverse cross-functional, multi-location product development teams.  Regular team "meetings" via phone calls are critical. Regular video calls improve the team performance.  Periodic in-person meetings are even better.  If the expectations are set initially regarding shared files and folders, digital/virtual access and intentional introductions/onboarding of team members, a vitual team can work really well.

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    [Sue] [Burek] [NPDP]
    [kHUB Administrator]
    [PDMA]
    [Huntersville] [NC]
    [585-314-4611]
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  • 4.  RE: Product Management after the pandemic

    Posted 05-19-2020 08:09
    Hi Rose!
    I may have a bit of a contrarian position here - but I believe that Covid19 just sped up trend that was already in place. More remote work, virtual offices, were already trending up.

    For a balanced discussion of in office vs virtual work settings, I think we also should acknowledge that there's lots of wasted time in the office! Productivity lost by your cubicle neighbors dropping by to say hello. In the office setting, we often go out to lunch. That's going to take at least an hour if not more. When working from the home office, much less time is spent there. Not to mention the wasted time (and cost) of a commute.

    Also, most modern offices seem to be designed with the false idea that we are all extroverts. They removed the blinds from the offices and have been tearing down cubicle walls. However, many people are more productive if they can retain a bit of privacy and keep a barrier from unwanted interruptions.

    For 90% of the time, I believe that a team can be just as productive when working remotely. For the remaining 10% of the time, this is when your team is tackling a truly difficult problem - for which it can be useful to gather in a room around a whiteboard. But even there, there solutions available. Companies (like www.trig.com) have remote brainstorming solutions. And for when you need to execute your voice of the customer process, my company (www.theaiminstitute.com) has tools to execute that virtually.

    I think the biggest hurdle to working with teams virtually is that we may have to work a bit harder to build trust, to build relationships. But again, there are solutions! It could mean being a little careful with the wording of an email. But also, maybe send a colleague a "happy birthday" note on their special day! And for sticky situations, pick up the phone and try to talk through things.

    With investments in the relationships - and adoption of some new tools - my position is that working virtually can be just as productive, if not more so!

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    William Burleson
    The AIM Institute
    Pittsboro NC
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  • 5.  RE: Product Management after the pandemic

    Posted 06-10-2020 13:02

    Hi Rose,

    Great point.  Human interaction by proximity, in my opinion, is still the most efficient method of ideas exchange, knowledge sharing and brainstorming.  Software Product Managers have also proven this by adopting Agile manifesto principles, one of them being 'Individuals and interactions over process and tools.'  Surely conferencing is a leap beyond emails and calls, but I believe it still leaves key elements out of the context.  The other side of the same equation is the cost benefits of being able to tap into a virtual team-based anywhere.  I have a feeling this last will prevail.
    Daniel Lago



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    Daniel Lago
    Product & Industry Expert
    SoftExpert
    Johns Creek GA
    407 502 8357
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  • 6.  RE: Product Management after the pandemic

    Posted 06-11-2020 17:48
    Rose -

    You're right!  In-person collaboration often leads to the best output but remote collaboration has its benefits too.  Here are a couple things I've learned in the last 3 months working with my clients and with PDMA leadership:

    1. Remote strategic planning sessions that last more than a couple hours aren't as productive as in-person sessions - people lose interest remotely.  That said, if you don't have to do the work on a tight timeline, strategic planning chunked up into multiple smaller sessions with breaks of days or even weeks in between can lead to a more robust output that is more thoughtful and perhaps even better than intense, compressed creativity.

    2. Managing projects remotely and doing things like WBS sessions and critical path planning is SO HARD remote.  Again, that said, implementing rules around remote participation are the key to success:

    a. No cell phones.
    b. Everyone on video all the time.
    c. Mics live all the time.

    Essentially recreate the social environment (and pressures) to remain engaged just like you were face-to-face.  Most importantly, call each other out.  "Hey Karen, I see you looking at your other monitor and I hear you typing.  Are you with us?"

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    Ernie Harris
    Founder
    Interesting Blazer
    Saint Petersburg FL
    727-306-1880
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  • 7.  RE: Product Management after the pandemic

    Posted 06-13-2020 05:11
    That's an interesting question, Rose.

    When you already have met someone in person and have worked with them on that basis, I have found remote working thereafter is easier. I think there are sufficient workarounds available to continue to working remotely with your existing team. And ad-hoc calls and video coffee breaks and not bad ways to simulate serendipity in the office.

    But product managers also need to work cross-functionally to get their job done, both at the front end to gather insights and to engage stakeholders in development and launch of new products and services. It's very often the case that each new initiative uncovers new teams or stakeholders to work with, especially in larger organisations. Here's where I think it gets tricky. Sometimes, as a product manager/developer, you need to be an agent for change and win the hearts and minds of different audiences. I think this aspect is more challenging remotely, especially when you are trying to break new ground.

    When I worked in larger organisations and I needed work with a remote team that might see change as a challenge to them, I would always make the effort to go out and meet them in person and look them in the eye and sense the body language. They could see you had the right interests at heart and that would help enormously. I work in a smaller organisation now and it's less of an issue for me, however I imagine this type of work would be more challenging without the option of in-person contact. Has anyone else found this?

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    Brian Martin
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