Product Manager as CEO of the Product

A few weeks ago, I came across this blog post on LinkedIn.  It was about the product manager’s role as CEO of the product and what should be done so that Product Managers can actually function in that respect.  The comments were also equally interesting.  Some pointed out that the reference to “CEO” is intended to highlight the leadership behavior expected of an individual in that role, while others felt it was about decision making authority on the lines of what a CEO in a company has.  All of these are valid arguments. As can be expected, when titles and glory are involved, the subject can be a little touchy 🙂

I have a slightly different take on this to share.  Generally speaking, when we start caring too much about titles, we are already down the slippery slope.  Instead wouldn’t it be better to build enough credibility within the organization so that the privilege of leadership is granted by people around one rather than demanded?  So how does a Product Manager go about building his or her credibility to the various cross functional teams?

Lets redefine the acronym CEO as it applies to the Product Manager role.  I’d like to reframe this to say that a Product Manager is the Chief Experience Orchestrator of the Product.

Just like the CEO of the company cares about how customers, employees, media experience the company across all functions, similarly, a Product Manager must do the same with his or her product. Moreover this must be the catalyst for appropriate actions.

The Product Manager role is the best position to observe the experience of the product throughout its lifecycle, both inside and outside the organization. Inside the company, this touches all other functions in addition to Engineering, such as Finance, Sales, Marketing, Support, Professional Services, Business Development, etc. Outside the company, this touches customers, partners, industry analysts, press and media, etc.  So lets not get too carried away by what makes the role important in the organization.  Now go be the CEO of your product!

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