Guiding towards the light

Posted: August 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

In any form of leadership, whether as a CEO, a product manager, or an entrepreneur, the goal is to align all people with a common goal.

As a professional consultant, product manager, and producer of digital media products, I have found that a nice metaphor to keep in mind is that of the North Star…

In designing and managing a product, you are subjected to many conflicting agendas from many parts of an organization. The job of the product manager is to be first of all the unwavering advocate for the user, and secondly the mediator between these viewpoints. By gathering all the stakeholders wishes together and honestly presenting these back to them in the context of the ‘North Star’, many conflicts can be resolved easily and, ideally, the outcome will be that each stakeholder feels empathy for the others and a sense of ‘oneness’ (as in “we’re all on the same team”). In a way, this idea borrows from Eastern philosophy that we are all connected, and that when we recognize this our inner and outer conflicts melt.

Gathering together the opposing agendas, and placing them in the context of the overarching goals is the name of the game. These goals trickle down from both the corporate goals and the product goals (i.e. what the user wants and needs). Directing the teams attention to this guiding light, or ‘North Star’, is the strategy. Notice that the leader is not the embodiment of that North Star, but the guide, pointing and drawing peoples eyeballs towards it, not trying to be it. A good leader says “let’s go” rather than “go” and the journey is for all to take together…

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