Monday, December 27, 2010

Who do you work for?

If you're employed, you might take a moment - but not necessarily on company time - to think about your company's reporting structure. Do you work for your boss? Do you work for the company CEO (assuming it's someone different from your boss)? Do you work for the stockholders (assuming your company is public)?

Or do you work for someone outside of the company?

As a former product manager, I still enjoy reading product management literature. And this post, recently penned in Product Management Insights, contains Michael Shrivathsan's answer to this question. Excerpt:

At most companies, since almost every department is trying to maximize the company’s self-interest - no one is championing customers’ best interests.

Product Management and Product Marketing teams should fill this void by always thinking about, championing and fighting for the customers’ best interests. This is not an easy battle to fight (you may even get fired for it!) - but this is one of the biggest values a PM team can add to their company.

More here. And be sure to read the comments, which explore the nuances of the concept.

But are product managers the best candidates for this job? I would advance the salesperson as a good candidate to do this, since he/she is not only closest to the customer, but is the one who stands to gain the most from satisfying the customer - at least in markets where you have repeat customers. For similar reasons, I'd also nominate the program manager - the one responsible for the success of an implementation at a customer site - as another candidate.
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