Vox Mercati

How do you know when you’ve arrived as a Product Manager? When you’re in a planning meeting with your Executive team and one of them makes a statement about the Market, or what product you should make next, or what they think your customer base needs – and you stare them straight back in the eye and say: “You’re wrong. Here’s why…” Remember, your one job before all others is to talk to the Market and internalize its voice. You must be the voice of the Market – the Vox Mercati.

In 2008 and beyond, make a pledge to be the Vox Mercati. So long as you speak with the truth of the Market, you’ll always find a company that needs you.

[UPDATE 2008-01-30]: Bob Corrigan from ack/nak makes a great point in the comments below. Politics is a part of the Game in Product Management just like any other role. The delivery of your message is key, so remember you represent the market, not you are the market. To make the voice of the market palatable, present your methods and sources as your research and let your data back you up. Consider dissenting voices and inquire how they are getting their data.

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4 Comments

  • Reply Product Beautiful » Blog Archive » Ankle Biters: Project Management January 25, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    […] strategic to Product Management and consume resources from the most important job, being the Vox Mercati. I’ll use this series to talk about why Ankle Biters are bad (obvious) and tactics to turn […]

  • Reply bob corrigan January 30, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    This is a tough one.

    No, not the vox mercati part. That’s easy.

    The hard part is how to let someone know they’re wrong. You may feel you’ve arrived as a PM when you can do what you described, but it might also be a way to learn when you’re departing. As in “soon”.

    Might I propose that it is every executive’s right to state what the market needs, what the company should build, the dynamics of the market, whatever.

    It is the responsibility of the executive team to evaluate that input – along with all other input – to arrive at a decision.

    Be an advocate of your evidence – not yourself. Challenge the evidence others bring – don’t challenge them. It’s easy to distract people from an objective analysis of market facts – so don’t distract them.

    So instead of “you’re wrong”, try “the evidence I’ve gathered shows x”. Let them challenge your methods, your sources, that’s OK – they should be unimpeachable.

    Perhaps you might even ask the individual espousing ideas you don’t agree with there those ideas came from – what’s their evidence? What are their methods & sources?

    Politics are the science of getting along in the sandbox.

  • Reply Paul January 30, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Great points Bob. You’re right that the “Here’s why” part is way more important than the “You’re wrong” part. Half of the message is in the delivery, and in PM as in any role if you’re arrogant then you’ll never thrive.

  • Reply bob corrigan March 7, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Why thank you!

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