In my days of transitioning from a Senior PM to a Group Head of Product at Gojek (Read Productify case study on Gojek), I synthesized what worked for my growth across the product ladder, and later in the new role while evaluating PMs in my team - I formulated and internalized what parameters are consistently displayed by all high-performing Product Managers.
PMs often confuse “hygiene” daily tasks as an important criterion for growing across PM ladder. Infact, it is not about how nice your documents look, how metric driven you are, how structured you are, and many other "good product manager" stuff. Of-course, these are needed .. and hence I define them as “hygiene” - i.e expected from good PMs but not a differentiator. They are just expected of you. But they don't get you into the top 1-5% that often get the growth and promotions.
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So, what actually works? Across my experience at Gojek and then later at Booking.com I could verify it, I found that the right mindset is to optimize for:
(Scope x Complexity)^(Influence)
(Assuming you would perform as per the owned goals, and culturally you’re a company fit. We do not go deeper into these two aspects)
Where, Scope = scale and/or importance of your domain/work within the organization
Complexity = characterized by variables involved in the workstream that make the task/problem challenging (people, tech, constraints, trade-offs)
Influence = Radius of impact within the organization (i.e impact outside your own team)
In order of sequence, I always go for first solving for scope. But the order is your personal choice. Ensure that you take the most impactful work (possible at your level) at your organization. This is characterized by how concerned your customers or key senior stakeholders are about the problem at hand.
Then solve for influence... how can you make sure that you communicate to stakeholders what you're aiming for and why.. get their buy-in and keep them updated on progress and achievements. Organize workshops and sessions to share successes and learnings as needed to maximize your circle of influence and build credibility, ownership and accountability towards your goals. Also, find out how you can move metrics for other teams too, not just your own. A lot of PMs who get promoted fast often were able to "do impactful work that touches multiple other teams" and not just their team.
Then we come to complexity. It is often hard to find complexity, but it often makes itself visible: many variables and unknowns, unsolved problem since a long time, too many stakeholders, tough stakeholders, high risk and so on. If you're not able to find a good "scope"... then go for complexity. Complexity often leads to influence because you're solving a tough problem.. but make sure you practice the principles of creating influence.
Coming back to (Scope x Complexity)^(Influence), Note that Scope and Complexity multiply each other.. so a small scope with high complexity also works... or a important/large scope with low complexity also works.. the multiplication of the two should be a healthy outcome that is important to the organisation. But often PMs still miss out on promotions/growth opportunities when their work is not visible.. hence "Influence" exponentially improves your chances of growth.
Pitfall to avoid: Trying to "create influence" without having a strong scope and/or complexity product work at hand. This just gets you visibility but over a longer time, everyone around you realises the relatively low importance of the problem you're tackling.
I hope this framework helps you to know which areas to improve upon to maximize your chances of career growth, skill growth and promotions. Remember, it is not only a great mindset to level up in the product management ladder, but it also makes it easier for you to explain to your manager why you deserve to.
Identify high-impact areas of work: To optimize for the equation (Scope*Complexity)^(Influence), product managers should first identify the areas of work that have the most importance and impact to the organization. This can be done by understanding the company's objectives, listening to feedback from customers and senior stakeholders, and analyzing industry trends.
Take on challenging projects: Once high-impact areas of work have been identified, product managers should aim to take on projects that are challenging and complex. These projects will not only contribute to the growth and development of the product manager but also have a significant impact on the organization.
Communicate effectively with stakeholders: To increase the visibility of their work, product managers should communicate effectively with stakeholders. This includes setting clear goals, providing regular updates on progress, and seeking feedback on the work being done.
Share successes and learnings: Product managers should share their successes and learnings with other teams within the organization. This helps to build credibility and expands the circle of influence of the product manager.
Look for opportunities to drive metrics for other teams: Product managers should also look for opportunities to drive metrics for other teams within the organization. This helps to increase the visibility of their work and demonstrates the value of the product manager's contributions to the company.
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Thank you for sharing, a simple yet powerful frame of reference. Another key element I would appreciate your thoughts on is Impact? Where would that fit?