As I commented in the chapter Roles, responsibilities and seniority, expectations management is something that occupies between 50 to 80% of the time of a head of product. Your daily routine revolves around your relationships and interactions with many people inside and outside your organization who are interested in the product you lead. In corporate jargon, these people are called stakeholders:
In the last decades of the 20th century, the word stakeholder has been increasingly used to mean a person or organization that has a legitimate interest in a project or entity. When discussing the decision-making process for institutions – including large companies, government agencies and non-profit organizations – the concept was expanded to include everyone with an interest or stake in what the entity does.
A product manager with some experience knows the importance of maintaining good relationships with product stakeholders. I will share here two tools that help to better map these stakeholders and how your relationship with each one should be.
RASCI is a very useful tool to help define and understand the roles and responsibilities of each person and function. It is the abbreviation of the first letters of the possible roles that a person, area or function can have in a task:
The following is an example of a RASCI responsibility matrix between engineering, UX, product marketing and product management that we used at Locaweb:
The first step is to build the responsibility matrix. My recommendation is to fill this table by bringing together in a room all the people involved, so you can discuss whether the division of responsibility is ok for everyone and if there is a task missing. Most likely, some “shared responsibilities” will appear, but this is a great time to discuss them and define who is responsible. There can be only one person responsible for any task.
Then, the team should try to do the tasks following the responsibility matrix for some time, like one or two months. Then, it is important to do a retrospective to see if everything is ok, or if any adjustment is needed.
From then on, the use becomes automatic and people will no longer need to refer to the responsibility matrix. Every year or when a question arises, or even when a new task arises, it is good to revisit it.
The Power-Interest Grid is a concept first developed in the 90s by Aubrey L. Mendelow, and later explained in the book “Making Strategy: Mapping Out Strategic Success”, by Fran Ackermann and Colin Eden. Based on the power and interest that a person or team has in your product, you can classify them into 4 main categories.
It is important to note that each company has its own dynamics, therefore, an area or person that plays a specific role in the power-interest grud of a given company may have another role in a different company.
These two tools are very useful for the head of product to better understand how to relate to their stakeholders and how to manage their expectations, which, as I already said, will take 50% to 80% of her time.
Empathy is a fundamental tool for the head of product to be able to manage its stakeholders. As I commented in the chapter “Developing the team and managing expectations”, empathy is the ability of one person to put himself in the place of another to understand his expectations. Their desires, motivations, needs and problems.
This characteristic is important for the head of product to understand the customers and users of the product, to know how they relate to it, and what problems they expect to solve or what needs they want to be met. It also helps to understand the impact of your product on your team and people in other areas. Last but not least, the head of product also needs to put herself in the shoes of the owner of the product, to understand their expectations on the results the product will bring to the company.
In the next chapter we will understand more about how to hire people for the team.
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