A Product Managers dilemma

As you might know I have been working as a product manager for quite a long time. The job’s funny, I really can achieve something and forge the future to some extent. However, I’m wondering where do the areas of responsibility start and end of a product manager.

What is product management all about in a business information setting where I’m responsible for products our customers consume. Am I responsible for the data to make it into my product? Am I responsible for customer complaints due to IT issues? Hang on……I guess as a holistically thinking PM I should be somehow responsible for such tasks. It’s not that I have to resolve the issue on my own but I suppose it’s my job to ensure that the necessary steps are taken.  I can’t oversee all tasks due to the breadth but I have to rely on others to resolve them.

However, what happens if these „other people“ are not recognizing that the issue has to be resolved by them? If they don’t recognize that basically they’re responsible for the issue? One of the things I like as a PM is the fact that I have to act holistically. I need proper understanding of how (in my case) we collect data, how we process it, how we package it and finally how we sell it. Additionally after the information has been sold to customers I have to understand what’s the feedback; be it negative or positive, to be able to use that information for future product development. Isn’t this holistic approach not applicable to others in a company as well? Is it really satisfying having knowledge about only one element of the supply chain? Apparently it is in many companies but I would say that productivity and therefore output leading to revenue could be drastically increased if people understood how important it is to think outside of the box.

This is something James L. Heskett mentioned in his brilliant article about „Putting the service-profit chain to work“ (get it here) where he presents a fact that an increase in customer loyalty (due to increased employee satisfaction and therefore better performance) of just 5 percent might result in an increase of 25%-85% of your profit.

Putting the service profit chain to work (Heskett)

Putting the service profit chain to work (Heskett)

I guess the conclusion is the following: Yes, I have to feel responsible for some issues I’m not even responsible for.

Just for the reason to be a role model. Force others to see that this approach is not to my detriment as it results in more work or stress but it is the way the company which pays my salary is able to flourish making sure that I have a bright future outlook as well. Nevertheless, it’s not always an easy task to be a warrior.

So what are your experiences? Where do you set your boundaries of responsibility?