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Episode 156 - The Five Dysfunctions of Product Management Teams (with Saeed Khan, Founder @ Transformation Labs)

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Episode 156: The Five Dysfunctions of Product Management Teams

Saeed Khan, Founder @ Transformation Labs

11 December 2022

Proudly sponsored by

One Knight Consulting
11 December 2022 Saeed Khan head shot

Listen here!

Content Warning - May Contain Adult Language or Themes
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Proudly sponsored by

One Knight Consulting

About the Episode

Saeed Khan is a product consultant, coach, speaker and founder who wants to give all of us product managers some tough love. In a long career, he's seen the same five dysfunctions across multiple product organisations and wants us to all be honest with ourselves so that we can have a chance to fix them.

I actually interviewed Saeed in one of my first podcast episodes. It has a certain "Simpsons Season 1" quality about it but, if you're curious, feel free to check it out!

A message from this episode's sponsor - One Knight Consulting

This episode is sponsored by One Knight Consulting. Yes, yes, that's me. But listen up. I started One Knight Consulting because I have seen variations of the same problems plaguing growing startups, scale-ups and larger, digitally transforming companies again & again. These problems can cause friction between teams, slow product development, lacklustre sales, and ultimately lead to constrained growth. If you're scaling your product organisation, struggling with cross-team alignment or having trouble executing your product strategy to support your business goals, book a call with me and we can discuss your needs and how I can help.

Episode highlights:

It's important to be honest about the state of product management

It's not about being negative or blaming "bad product managers" for everything. But, there are repeated dysfunctions across a large number of companies and we can't fix them if we ignore them.

Product managers suffer from poor job definitions, which makes it hard to succeed

Bad job specs are a symptom of a deeper truth: Not many people outside product management really understand it, or what "cross-functional" working means at all. We should avoid being "glue".

There are lots of smart product managers out there but they don't all have the skills they need

Product management is the ultimate "school of hard knocks" trade & many people practising it speak only in the theoretical/struggle in different contexts. PMs need good coaching.

"Process" is too often seen as a dirty word. You don't need too much but you need some

There needs to be some level of rigour within PM teams to help set them up for success. Doing everything ad hoc gives you ad hoc results. Don't overegg it, but don't underegg it either.

Our objectives are often unclear, and we need to do our best to connect to the company's goals

We need to be able to define leading measures of success and connect our efforts to actual business success. PMs need to have a far higher level of interest in business outcomes.

Product leadership is often weak & is needed to fix all of the dysfunctions

It's better to have a former PM and coach them into a leader than to have a non-product businessperson brought in. Someone with good pattern recognition who can bring everything together is essential.

Check out the blog article "The 5 Dysfunctions of Product Management Teams"

You can read the article that inspired this interview right here.

Contact Saeed

You can connect with Saeed on Twitter, LinkedIn, Mastodon or check out Transformation Labs.

Saeed Khan and me before the recording