In this session on what it takes to turn a vision into a successful market commodity, Mariano Capezzani definines the characteristics of a proficient PM. He talks about various factors and elements that contribute to seeing your visions realized as final products.
Building Products and Culture: Mariano Capezzani
Mariano Capezzani is a proficient PM, who is currently working as the Group Head of Product at HSBC. He is an ardent professional, who aces at building organisations with adept products and collaborative cultures.
Making Product Vision a Reality
Product management is essentially a very challenging and intriguing job, as one has to be aware of multiple disciplines and able to deal with a myriad of people with utmost complacency.
Mariano first discusses the various perspectives one needs to have, and the different roles that come under the umbrella of product management. The key, he says, lies in being a director:
The 5 key things to hold on to, if you are a PM:
- The Story
- The People
- The Depth
- The Trust
- The Ego
If you are a PM, you are a storyteller. You envision a product and tell its story. As we all know, stories stick with us. You carry stories everywhere, both at home and at work. As a Product Manager, you become a writer of stories.
Articulate your idea with a story, one with which people can resonate. Involve everyone in your team and indulge them in some work that contributes to the objective. This keeps everyone on the same page.
As Mariano says, “Storytelling is a way of describing your product vision as a single construct that blends context, possibilities, facts and emotion into a conceivable sequence of events, and invites everyone to feel invested in the outcome.”
Make sure that you are open to corrections and contributions. Remember, your stories are editable. Visions are editable.
Firstly, the most important thing is to believe in yourself. Before you begin to translate your ideas for others, believe in them completely. Then you can work on influencing others to believe them too.
One of the fundamental responsibilities of a PM is to encourage people to do their best. Having an understanding of various people who are involved in your team (what they need to thrive, how they operate) and help them to be the best version of themselves. Strong motivation has the power to bring out the best in people.
An essential part of being a PM is making sure that the team you oversee has competent team members. According to Mariano, “hiring ensures the team is composed of individuals with enough cognitive diversity to represent your audience and solve problems creatively. When it comes to choosing from a pool, it is competency first, then culture. In that order.”
While Product Managers do not have any authoritarian power over the hiring and firing of team members, they’ll certainly have a say in which prospective teammates should come on board. When you are in that interview room, look for competency above personality.
Know where you are going. Go all-in to understand your team and the challenges they face.
Get into deep conversations and connect on a one-to-one basis with key people. Talk to developers, designers, support, higher officials and clients. Engage in long conversations to know things first hand. These exercises might cost a lot of time and effort, but it is all worth in the end.
Trust is the foundation of everything. You, as a PM, work closely with almost every team. For this to work, you need to have their trust, which you can gain by being reliable, clear, transparent, available and have frequent communication with everyone at all levels. Moreover, be predictable at delivery.
To be predictable, be open about timelines and communicate them clearly with everyone. Sometimes, being predictable also means taking risks. Visualizing risk and being cautious remains one of the underrated responsibilities of a capable PM.
As we find success, sometimes this can inflate our egos. And undoubtedly, ego is the biggest disaster to a team. Always know that you are just an element contributing to product success. Also, frequently hit the refresh button on your knowledge. Learn to be wrong and get good at being good.
As Mariano rightly says:
Final Thoughts from Mariano Capezzani
- Be a Director, at the intersection of disciplines.
- Present an achievable vision as a story everyone believes in.
- Empower superheroes with the right competencies and culture.
- Have deep conversations with all team members.
- Earn trust through predictable delivery, not through the fear of being wrong.