The VP Product Role

The VP Product Role

产品副总的角色

If you take a peek at the list of open product positions at the end of this newsletter, you’ll notice a record number of VP/Director of Product positions. In part this reflects the growth we are experiencing in our industry. However, it also represents an increased recognition of the importance of strong product leadership.

如果你窥视一下邮件列表末尾的公开的产品定位,你就会注意到VP/主管在产品定位中的编号。在一定程度上,这反映了我们在行业中的增长。然而,它也代表了有力产品领导的重要性受到的重视在增长。

I work with quite a few different product companies, and I am often asked to recommend and evaluate potential candidates. I have done so much of this lately that it inspired me to write up my views on this product leadership role.

我在不少有不同产品的公司工作过,我也经常被要求去建议和评估潜在的候选人。近来,我在这方面做了很多,从而激发我记录下关于产品领导角色的观点。

I’ve written this for three audiences:

这篇文章写给三类听众:

If you are a CEO or exec recruiter and you are looking for a head of product, this should give you a deeper understanding of what you should be seeking;if you are currently leading a product organization I’d like to offer this up as your keys to success;If you have aspirations of one day leading a product organization, this is a frank discussion of the skills you’ll need to acquire.

如果你是一个CEO或者招聘人员,并且正在寻找一个产品的头,这会给你一个寻求解决办法更深刻的理解;如果你当前正领导着一个产品组织,我会提供给你成功的关键;如果你期望有一天能够领导一个产品组织,这是一个针对你需要掌握的技能的直率的建议。

In this article I use the title “VP Product” to refer to this position, but you’ll also find titles ranging from Director of Product Management to Chief Product Officer. By whatever title, I am referring here to your most senior product role in your company or business unit.

在这篇文章里,我用了“VP Product”这个头衔来指这个职位,但是你也会发现头衔从产品管理主管首席产品官。但无论何种头衔,我在这儿要指出的是在你的公司或商业组织中,你是最高级的产品角色。

Organizationally, this role typically manages the product owners/product managers and the user experience designers, and generally reports to the CEO. With some exceptions, it is important that this role be a peer to the CTO and the VP Marketing.

在组织上,这个角色典型的就是管理产品拥有者/产品经理和用户体验设计师,以及通常向CEO汇报。也有一些例外,这个角色和CTO和营销副总是同等的,这个是重要的。

I’ll say right up front that this is a difficult role is a difficult position to fill and to perform well.   Those that do succeed make a dramatic difference for their companies. Great product leaders are highly valued and often go on to found their own companies. In fact, some of the best VC’s only invest in founders that have already proven themselves as great product leaders.

我刚刚在前面说过,这是一个困难的角色,是一个困难的位置,对于承担和执行好。那些做得成功的,对于他们的公司来说有着戏剧性的差异。伟大的产品领导者是极受重视并经常不断去建立他们自己的公司的。事实上,一些最好的VC只投资那些曾经证明过自己是伟大产品领导者的创业者。

Competencies

职业能力

Specifically, you are looking for someone that is proven strong in four key competencies: Team Development, Product Vision, Execution, and Product Culture.

明确地说,你正在寻找一些能够证明四个关键职业能力上很强的人:团队发展;产品愿景;执行力和产品文化。

– Team Development

团队发展

The single most important responsibility of any VP Product is to develop a strong team of product owners and designers. This means making recruiting, training and ongoing coaching the top priority. Realize that developing great people requires a different set of skills than developing great products, which is why many otherwise excellent product owners and designers never progress to leading teams.

产品VP唯一重要的职责就是去发展一个强有力的产品拥有者和设计者的团队。这意味着要去招募、培训和在职辅导是优先考虑的问题。要知道,开发了不起的人和开发一个了不起的产品相比,需要一套不同的技能,这就是为什么许多很不错的产品拥有者和设计者从来无法再进一步去领导团队。

And one of the worst things you can do is take one of your poor performing people and promote them to this leadership position. I know that may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many execs reason that, “well, this guy is not very strong, but he works well with people and the stakeholders seem to like him, so maybe I’ll make him the head of product and hire a strong individual contributor person to backfill him.” But how do you expect this poor performer to help develop his team into strong performers? And what message does this send to the organization?

另一个你可能做的糟糕的事情是你获得了一个执行力很糟糕的人并提升他们去担负这个领导的位置。我知道这或许听起来是平淡无奇的,但是,你会对许多执行层如何来解释感到惊奇,“好的,这个家伙不是很给力,但是他和其他人做的不错,和他有利益关系的人看上去也喜欢他,因此,或许我应该让他成为这个产品的头,并雇用一个强有力的独立贡献者来弥补他。”但是你怎么能指望这个糟糕的执行者去帮助他的团队有强有力的执行力呢?这向这个组织传递了什么信息呢?

For this position, you need to ensure you are hiring someone that has proven the ability to develop others. They should have a track record of identifying and recruiting potential talent, and then working actively and continuously with those people to address their weaknesses and exploit their strengths.

对于这个位置,你需要确定你将要雇用的某人曾经证明过他有发展其他人的能力。他们应该有一个可识别的和招募潜在人才的以往记录,并且和这些人积极地,持续地工作去标定他们的弱势,发展他们的优势。

– Product Vision

产品愿景

Product vision refers to defining and driving the product strategy. The vision is what drives and inspires the company, and sustains the company through the ups and downs. This may sound straightforward but it gets tricky. That’s because there are two very different types of product leaders needed for two very different situations:

产品愿景指的是定义和驱动产品战略。愿景就是驱动并激励公司,并支撑公司经历起伏。这或许听起来简单,但是却是非常棘手的。这是因为有两个截然不同类型的产品领导者就会形成两个截然不同的状况。

Where there is a CEO or founder that is the clear product visionary.

一个CEO或者创始人有清晰的产品愿景。

Where there is no clear product visionary, usually in situations where the founder has moved on

没有清晰的产品愿景,通常在这种情况下,创始人走向何方?

There are two very bad situations:

有两种非常糟糕的情况:

The first is when you have a CEO that is very strong at product and vision, but he feels that he wants to hire a VP Product (or more often his board pushes him to hire a VP Product), and he thinks he should be hiring someone in his own image, or at least like him in that he’s also very visionary. The result here is typically an immediate clash and usually a short tenure for the VP Product. If this position looks like a revolving door, it’s very possible that’s what’s going on.

首先是当你有一个CEO有很强大的产品和愿景,但是他感觉他需要雇一个产品VP(或者很多时候是他的董事会逼迫他雇用一个产品VP),并且他认为他应该雇用一个有着他的形象的人,或者至少和他一样也有着非凡的愿景。这个典型的结果就是即刻出现冲突,并通常使产品VP任期都不长。如果这个位置看起来像一个旋转门,那么这一切都是非常可能的。

The second bad situation is when the CEO is not strong at vision, but he also hires someone in his own image. This doesn’t result in the clash (they often get along great), but it does leave a serious void in terms of vision and this causes frustration among the product team, poor morale across the company, and usually a lack of innovation.

第二个糟糕的情况是当这个CEO并没有很强大的产品愿景,但是他也雇用了一个和他一样的人。这不会导致冲突(他通常相处的很好),但是它会让愿景严重缺失,并且在产品团队中形成挫折,在公司中士气不足,并普遍缺乏创新。

The key here is that the VP Product needs to complement the CEO. If you have a strong visionary CEO, there may be some very strong VP Product candidates that won’t want the position because they know that in this company, their job is primarily to execute the vision of the CEO.

这里的关键是产品VP 需要补位这个CEO。如果你有一个有着强大愿景的CEO,或许会有一些非常强的产品VP不会想去补这个位置,因为他们知道在这个公司,他们的首要工作是执行CEO的愿景。

One situation that unfortunately happens is when you have a visionary CEO and he has a solid partner running product that is very strong at execution, but the founder eventually leaves and now the company has a problem because nobody is there to provide the vision for the future.  It’s generally not something a VP Product can easily turn on and off, and even if they can, the rest of the company may not be willing to consider the product leader in this new light. This is why I generally prefer when the founders stay on at the company, even if they decide they want to bring in someone else as the CEO.

有一种情况不幸地发生了,当你有一个有愿景的CEO并且他有一个可靠的合作伙伴有很强的执行力在运转产品,但是这个创始人最终离开了,那现在这个公司就有了一个问题,因为没有人能提供未来的愿景。这通常不是产品VP能够容易处理的,即使他们能,这个公司的其它人或许也不会考虑让这个产品领导者有新的眼光。这就是为什么我通常更倾向于这个创始人应该留在公司,即使他们决定想让某些人担任CEO。

If you’re wondering what to do when you have a CEO that thinks he’s a strong visionary leader, but the rest of the company knows he’s not, you need a very special head of product, one that is a strong visionary, but also has the ability and willingness to convince the CEO the vision was all his idea.

如果你有一个CEO自认他是一个富有远见的领导人,而你也想去做些什么,但是公司的其他人知道他不是,你需要一个非常特别的产品领导,一个不但有愿景,而且有能力并愿意说服CEO愿景就是他的想法。

– Execution

执行力

No matter where the vision comes from, all the great vision in the world doesn’t mean much if you can’t get the product idea from concept to live to site. You need a product leader that knows how to get things done and has absolutely proven his ability to do so.

无论愿景来自哪里,如果你不能让这个产品想法从概念到实现再到上线,那么,这个世界上所有伟大的愿景都没有意义。你需要一个知道如何搞定这些事并完全证明他的能力能够做到的产品领导者。

There are many aspects that contribute to a team’s ability to execute consistently, rapidly, and effectively. The person certainly should be expert on modern forms of product planning, customer discovery, product discovery, and product development process, but execution also means that they know how to work effectively as part of your size organization.

促成团队去持续、快速和有效的执行有许多方面的因素。这个人毫无疑问应该是产品规划,客户发现、产品发现和产品开发进程这些现代形式上的专家,但是执行也意味着他们知道作为组织中的一部分如何高效工作

The bigger the organization, the more critical that the person has proven strong skills especially in stakeholder management and internal evangelism. The product leader must be able to inspire and motivate the company and get everyone moving in the same direction.

越大的组织,执行就显得越关键,这个人需要证明有强大的技能,尤其是在相关利益管理和内部的传道上。这个产品领导者必须能够鼓舞和激励公司,让每个人都朝同一个方面前进。

– Product Culture

产品文化

Good product organizations have a strong team, a solid vision and can consistently execute. A great product organization adds the dimension of a strong product culture.

好的产品组织有一个强大的团队,一个牢固的愿景和能够连贯的执行。一个伟大的产品组织会加入一个强有力的产品文化因素在里面。

A strong product culture means that the team understands the importance of continuous and rapid testing and learning. They understand that they need to make mistakes in order to learn, but they need to make them quickly and mitigate the risks. They understand the need for continuous innovation. They know that great products are the result of true collaboration. They respect and value their designers and engineers. They understand the power of a motivated product team.

一个强有力的产品文化意味着这个团队懂得连续的重要性和快速测试以及学习。他们懂得他们需要从犯错中学习,但是他们需要让他们迅速地化解风险。他们懂得需要连续的创新。他们知道伟大的产品来源于真正的合作。他们尊重和重视他们的设计师和工程师。他们懂得一个有着积极性的产品团队的力量。

A strong VP Product will understand the importance of a strong product culture, and will be able to give real examples of his own experiences with product culture and have concrete plans for instilling this culture in your company.

一个强有力的产品VP会懂得一个有着强有力产品文化的重要性,并能够把他在产品文化上的经验作为现实的案例,有具体的计划去把文化渗透进公司内。

Experience

经验

The amount of relevant experience, such as domain experience, will depend on your particular company and industry, but at a minimum, you are looking for someone with the combination of a strong technology background with an understanding of the economics and dynamics of your business and your market.

一定量的相关经验,例如领域经验,是基于你的特定公司和行业的,但至少应该是,你正在寻找的人是一个懂得经济,商业动力和市场,并有强大技术背景的一个人。

There is a debate going on right now in our industry about the value of an MBA for product leaders. All of us inside the industry can’t help but be biased because we either do or don’t have one (I don’t). I think I know as many product leaders as just about anyone in this industry, and I know many very strong leaders both with and without. I absolutely do not consider an MBA a requirement, but I personally would not avoid hiring someone just because they had an MBA, as long as they convinced me that they had the right mindset per the above.

在我们的行业(译者注:作者为电子商务行业)中,现在有一个争论是关于MBA作为产品领导者的价值的。我们行业内部的所有人都是无帮助,但是有偏见的,因为我们既没有做,也没有一个(我不是MBA)。我认为我知道尽可能多的产品领导者在这个行业内都是这样,我知道许多非常强有力的领导者并非如此。我绝对不是不认为不需要MBA,也不是我个人避免雇用这样的人,只是因为他们是MBA,他们让我确信他们有上面所提到的正确的习惯。

Chemistry

工作关系

Last but certainly not least, everything discussed above is still not enough. There is one more thing. Your product leader must be able to work well on a personal level with the other key execs, especially the CEO and CTO. It will not be fun for any of you if there isn’t that personal connection. Make sure the interview process includes a long dinner with at least the CEO and CTO. Be open and make it personal.

最后还有一点,上面讨论的一切仍然是不足的。还有一件事情。你的产品领导者必须能够在个人层面和其他关键的执行者工作的很好,尤其是CEO和CTO。如果没有个人关系,对于你们当中的许多人来说这并不是开玩笑。确保面见的过程,至少包括和CEO和CTO长时间的午餐的方式。开放并尽显个性。

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