Product managers are leaders and influencers of features, ideas, and epic tasks. Some have direct and backed authority, many others have variants that are partial or merely implicit. Either way, to achieve the greatest success, do you rule with force? Or influence, and guide, and allow for shared discovery in support of your product’s end goals?
When your designer says “no”… how do you get them to “yes”? Let’s look at this challenge with respect to a few designer types that many of us have had the pleasure and privilege of working with.
The Standard Barer
Perhaps your idea isn’t perfect, or is suffering from The Perfectionist’s attempt for design perfection. Or, perhaps, the design is spiraling into endless edge case bottomless pits of despair.
The Perfectionist can be difficult to influence by anyone less perfect than themselves (nearly everyone else). You may recognize The Perfectionist by these additional traits…
- Has to be in control
- Gets carried away with the details
- Frequently criticizes others
- Refuses to hear criticism
- Checks up on other people’s work
- Has a hard time making choices
Leverage the Peer Group
At their core, The Perfectionist seeks acceptance and approval. Encourage praise from their peers and coworkers for their work; satisfaction breeds productivity and openness to more ideas (especially those that may have received firm “no’s” in the past)
Create an environment that rewards good ideas. Perfectionism can often be curbed through healthy, time-constrained competition – encourage speed and near perfection over 100% and lagging delivery. A mix of some competition with other individuals / groups coupled with tracking and metrics can help lower the individual’s reservations about taking risks while simultaneously establishing a structure for setting and achieving more realistic goals.
Innovator may find your ideas too bland and normal… that’s fine, provide avenues for their creative spirit.
The Innovator can be pushing the limits of design so far that their designs lose the ability to communicate form and function, usable value. The Innovator often seeks to inspire, rather than motivate – motivate the product users to action, to buy, to come back.
Set objective, measurable goals. For example, change the challenge from improving usability by moving the login button to a new location, to increase the rate of logins by 20% and time on the website by 40% for each logged in user. When you redefine the problem in these terms, you then empower The Innovator to iterate, to innovate, to dazzle, to do whatever they can envision… as long, at the end of the day, the goals are met.
Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing various examples and approaches in wielding strategic influence as a successful product manager. Next week, we will look at …
The Standard Barer
The Product Guy