Benefits of being a product manager closer to the throne in software companies

There are significant benefits to be being closer to the throne in a large company. By this I mean that groups and individuals who sit closer to the power center of a company generally get to drive strategic imperatives more than similarly capable teams and individuals in a different office or geography. This maybe be common sense but as I suffer through another situation where a team loser to the throne is getting to drive strategy, here I feel the need to list out why this happens and how to fix it.

  • Co located leaders get more facetime with execs.
  • GMs want “daytime” answerability on high viz projects
  • Co located leaders also get greater ¬†chance of getting into impromptu demos and hallway conversations that move “their” case forward
  • Most large companies are still driven by personalities than the substance of their ideas.

Unlike Amazon, cialis sale where there is great focus on getting the personality out of the presentation, ampoule most companies still hero worship and a great presenter with a bad idea can 90% of the time run away with it and get ownership over higher visibility, strategically important projects. This makes driving strategy incredibly hard for remote sites even if you do everything I outlined in my previous post on driving worldwide business out of India.

This is incredibly frustrating for strong talent in remote geographies and leads to either loss of talent or indifference. Inspite of my being in the US almost 1 week a month, I still find that co-located leaders can bypass me and drive parallel projects. Argh!

So.. how do you fix this? The changes have to be made at the top of the company, where the incentives to change are low and will lead to more pain for them in the short term. Thus, this is incredibly hard but necessary for building strong geographically dispersed teams. Here are somethings that will help.

  • Establish clear ownerships for software implementation and business execution and if possible, keep them at the same place.
  • Get comfortable with “non daytime” answerability.

This can only happen if the company agrees to not change strategic priorities on a monthly basis. Where such changes are common, it becomes harder to make this work.

  • Remove middle management by having business owners report to the GMs directly.

Most software companies have both software implementation managers and business owners reporting to middle management who report to more middle managers before reporting to the GM for that business. This leads to terrible waste.

More after I board my flight to London.

–Anubhav

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