What I love most about being a product manager is that I have the ability to view a wider picture. I then use my interpersonal skills to convince the team and management to strike the right balance.
Production vs Production Capability
“To maintain the P/PC Balance, the balance between the golden egg (production) and the health and welfare of the goose (production capability) is often a difficult judgment call. But I suggest it is the very essence of effectiveness.” - Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Stephen Covey uses the fable of the goose that laid golden eggs to define the importance of striking the right balance to get the best outcome. As I ventured into the product manager role, I find that not only to be incredibly true, I also find out that being a product manager, I need to be the one to strike the right balance for the company to grow.
Just a quick references for anyone who have not read the book yet. P stands for production of desired results and PC stands for production capability, the ability or assets that produce. The P/PC Balance can be referred to balancing between two culture:
Culture A: Focus only on money or wealth (golden egg) in the short term. In the long run, its ability to produce result drastically decreased because we never improve the capability to produce.
Culture B: Always focus on production capability (goose). Without making enough sales or revenue in the short term, we will not be able to survive and harvest the long term result.
Common Example in a Startup
In a startup, designers and developers are like the goose who produce the golden egg. Designers focus on producing the best user interface and experience. Developers spend most of their time turning this amazing design by coding and producing an app (golden egg) that can be used by businesses or users.
The sales team spend most of their time hustling and selling this app or services (golden egg) to other businesses or users. The revenue generated is the combined results of the team.
The Founders, CEO or higher management are like the farmer in the story. Ideally, the profit will be split between investment in the team who sell the production and the team who provide production capability.
Except, life is never that easy
In a startup, it is very difficult to produce a golden egg let alone producing a golden egg at every iteration. Every decision to invest in the team who sell the production or the team who provide production capability can make or break the goose.
Depending on the past experience of the founders, they are usually sided towards their own background. Founders who spend most of the time on sales, tend to spend and invest on the sales team while technical / designer founders tend to spend and invest on the design or technical team.
Too must focus on selling the golden egg will cause the team to lose its ability to produce the right golden egg for the market. Too much focus on producing the golden egg for the market can be lost its survivability in the tough world.
Product managers unlike any of the roles above have the ability to see a wider picture and help improve both the production capability and also the sales of production result. We speak to the users, perform product research then communicate with the stakeholders (owners of the goose) on what to build and where we should invest.
If we do not help to strike the right balance, how will a startup consistently lay the golden eggs?
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In the day, I am a technical product lead. At night, I am a maker, engineer, and designer. I enjoy learning and building new things about tech, products, and startup. You can find me on Twitter or on my blog.