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Stop satisfying your founders and build what really matters

Post by
Alex Teoli
Stop satisfying your founders and build what really matters

**Note: In this blog, We focus on founders but this can refer to any influential stakeholder making product feature requests

Simply put, the founders of a business entity are not always right about how best to move forward, and there’s a fine line between pleasing them whilst also maintaining proper business strategy. However, straddling that line and remaining on the fence can at times prove detrimental to your company’s vision and objectives. Although their intentions may be in the right place, you need to show them otherwise. This can be quite tricky as it’s essentially their baby you’re dealing with but at the end of the day, you’re all on the same side here. 

If executed correctly, all this can be done while still maintaining a good relationship with your founders. After all, if you are a member of a product management team or even a product manager, part of your job is to oversee and identify potential problems whilst also looking at how to make the most out of your company’s products and services.

How do I deal with requests and unrealistic expectations at work?

Sometimes, it’s clear to you and your team that their requests will not achieve the required business goals and KPIs. However, it is not enough to simply tell your founders that they are wrong, you and your team need to prove this via proven data attached to your business goals and growth expectations. You need to gather quantitative evidence, showing them why these requests are unrealistic or even detrimental to the company if implemented.

Having said this, you and your team also need to settle on an alternative view. It’s no good giving a detailed explanation of why a certain business model won’t work, without any plan for another way forward.

Build a Roadmap

Every good product manager needs a roadmap, a prioritized list of things to do over a given period of time. Utilizing proper prioritization frameworks, set a strategy with real, tangible objectives and goals that can be achieved and overseen within the next six-to-twelve months. 

There are many frameworks to choose from, from the RICE scoring method - which evaluates the potential pull and effectiveness of a product based on five key elements - to the more straightforward KANO model which pits the level of customer satisfaction a product or service could bring against its cost to implement.

The one you choose is entirely dependent on several factors, such as the type of product and or service, the estimated time to implement or it could even simply be down to personal preference. A roadmap and use of a proper framework will not only give your team a point of reference but will also ensure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone knows what their roles are.

Prioritize what is right for your company, users and growth

Compare and Contrast

Once you have your roadmap with all its goals, objectives and key results, you’ll need to present it in a way that is understandable to others that do not form part of the team. This is where a prioritization table comes in. This will aid you in picking out the most important features of a product or service and have them highlighted in a user-friendly format to show your founders and other stakeholders.

After you’ve gathered all that data and presented it in a readable manner, you can begin to tie it back to the initial request set forth by the founders to compare and contrast the two ideas. There’s no beating around the bush here, with the aid of your roadmap, your team will need to give a comprehensive and detailed description about how and why your alternative model will deliver better results. 

Using the data compiled, you also need to show your founders how their requests will not drive their product forward, nor will it achieve any business goals or KPIs. Although we are talking about founders, this approach extends to any business stakeholders

Learning how to say no

The worst thing you can do is follow through on an idea that you know is bad just because your founder said so. Not only will your team bear the brunt of the blame if and when things go wrong but the company as a whole will also suffer.

As mentioned earlier, being part of a product team involves problem-solving and using quantitative as well as qualitative data to set ambitious goals and objectives that are challenging yet also achievable and more importantly, realistic. These goals and objectives must be aligned with the overall business strategy.

Once you have done all your homework, you can present it to your founders. Even if after all this, they still choose to go with their own idea (not likely), they will respect you for setting alternatives as it shows you have your team and your company’s best interests at heart.

Also, this is where your expertise lies, they also rely on you and your team for such decisions. So stop trying to appease them at every turn. 

Sign up for a ‘free forever’ Prodeology account, align your goals and objectives with the company’s overall vision and start building what really matters today!

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