Product change happens with leadership not product

ghandiIt’s funny. You hear it all the time. A new leader comes into the product team. He (or she, don’t get too judgmental on me here) has great ideas and the experience to execute for success. He has the right people. And, the change expected, the desired turn, fails. The sales number are not meeting expectations. The product group is not launching products at a quantity or speed that the company expects. It’s all not working.

Why? We know that leaders are expected to make change. That is why they are brought in to the organization. They typically come in, assess the environment and structure a re-organization of the team. Often some team members are removed, and more often additional team members are put in place.

But the expected shift still fails.

Culture will always win. The team will nod and turn around. People will go back to what they know.

Change can come. The right people with the right skills can be used in the right way. It takes a strong leader. A leader who trusts. A leader who listens. A leader who empowers.

These are not easy skills to develop, possess or use. It takes strength, courage and the ability to correct your actions and change when you need. It takes a strong leader to admit they are wrong, yet the stronger leader will take the action.

How do you move forward when the expected change is not happening? How do you move forward when you see a mistake?

First, stop talking and start listening. Step up. Don’t wait and don’t silence voices. Ask questions. Engage with the team. Learn from their experience with the products, operations and market. Re-assess and start over with fresh ideas and a fresh approach. Yes, culture always wins. People will resist change. But, change cannot even be given a chance if you don’t try. If you don’t look inward to learn what you are doing to aid the resistance.

Looking in from the outside, change can’t happen without good managers and phenomenal leaders. Be the change.

3 thoughts on “Product change happens with leadership not product

  1. Good post, as Peter Drucker said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Culture is what needs to be changed, and at all companies I have been at, it is very slow to change, if it can be changed at all. It certainly doesn’t change with a single “new” executive, nor does it change without a lot of inertia to overcome.

    One place I was at, after this division was bought, there was a huge internal resistance within that group to adapt to the new corporate owner’s culture. This resistance lasted more than 10 years, and even when all the old-guard left and were replaced, there was enough institutional resistance to change that they still struggle with the constraints applied to them.

    Thanks for writing this!

    1. Thanks for the supporting story.

      In my opinion, and from first-hand knowledge, all too often we look to the product manager/marketing manager as having failed when the planned/desired success is not achieved. Too many times, we don’t look inward at our own culture, operations and processes to find the real places to evaluate.

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