Stand Your Ground

Product people: Stand your ground.

If you’re being pushed by engineering to begin development, threatening you’ll otherwise lose your development resources, but you think there’s still crucial product strategy, product definition or customer development work to be completed, stand your ground.

If you’re being cornered into an arbitrary market launch date that adds an unreasonable level of risk to the product delivery and value proposition, stand your ground.

If you’re being coerced into a software development process, because it’s the latest thing or there are zealots blindly evangelizing its benefits with no real perspective on your customers or business, stand your ground.

If the scrum team is complaining to the CIO or any executive who will listen that you’re not physically present with the scrum team 24/7, and you feel your time is better spent in the marketplace with customers, stand your ground.

If Marketing is pushing for a full court press market launch well before any market assumptions have been validated, and you feel a soft launch is better to de-risk the product strategy, stand your ground.

If Business Development is pushing you to add that one feature that will enable them to close that gajillion dollar deal, and that feature makes no sense for any of your other target customers, stand your ground.

If Sales is pushing you to deliver the product earlier because they arbitrarily made up a delivery date to sell a prospect, stand your ground.

If your CFO is badgering you for budget and ROI estimates well before your product strategy has been validated or you’ve achieved even problem/solution fit, give him or her your estimates, say they’re a 100% guess, are practically guaranteed not to hold up, and you won’t be using them to manage the project. Stand your ground.

If your CEO is forcing you to define your MVP based on his or her own personal vision of the product with no customer validation to inform the product strategy, definition and delivery approach, yes, stand your ground.

This is not to say you should be unreasonable, stubborn or inflexible. Be professional. Be collaborative. Listen to them. Understand their perspective. Address concerns. But if you feel you have a case, if you’ve done your homework and feel confident in your point of view, stand your ground.

And don’t be stupid. Have your facts ready. Have a rational, justifiable case. If you have those and can back up your assumptions, stand your ground.

State your case clearly, coherently, calmly, rationally, respectfully, professionally. Even passionately. Stand your ground.

You may be challenged. Expect it. Stand your ground. You may be overruled. Possibly. So what? You’ll have stated your case. Stand your ground. You may be ridiculed, shouted, screamed or hollered at. Stand your ground. (And ask yourself if you really want to work in such a toxic environment.) They may be upset with you, but they’ll sure as heck will respect you, because you stood your ground.

You are the product owner. Know your product, its value proposition, its business model, your roadmap, and your delivery process. Above all, know your customers. Do that, and you’ve earned the right. So stand your ground.

Because when you stand your ground, you’re standing up for your customers. And, as the product person, that’s your job.

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