Who Killed Big Corp Innovation?

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by: Sigurd Rinde

The Product Manager.

Look no further, that’s the one, the main Big Corp innovation killer.

OK, do take that with a pinch of salt. It’s not personal either, if you’re a PM, it’s not your fault. But please read on, there might be a grain of truth in the silly claim after all:

You don’t even have to have that title, any “VP of something” often have responsibility for a specific product/product-line/technology. Same thing, different wrapping. That’s how big organisations are built, around a core of guardians of existing products/technologies, perpetuating the status quo as it is.

Responsible for a product or product line? That’s the whole shebang; full lifecycle, it’s growth, it’s profitability, it’s wellbeing, it’s existence.

A great idea if the word was static. Excellent idea. But alas…

Would a Product Manager for riding crops have welcomed Gottfried Daimler to his office?

The Guardian Of Existing Stuff, aka Product Manager

But it’s not his or her fault:

The product/product-line/technology “owner” is measured by, and his/her bonus and future is dependent on how good they are at milking and keeping alive “what we’ve got”.

There never were any bonuses for killing off the horse buggy business to build a complete new car business, or dismantling the train tracks then start flying.

But even without bonuses it happens all the time, but mostly too late for the poor Product Manager. He only gets the blame while his successor makes the much needed kill before moving into the future as the new hero.

Nope, the responsibility lies with the strategists and top leadership.

Refocus from corporate viewpoint to customer viewpoint, from “our needs” to “customer needs”, from “our product” to “customer’s product”. Then the “Product Managers” could become “Customer Value Managers”, responsible for a set of customers and how to help them best, bugger the product really, that follows.

Original Post: http://blog.thingamy.com/sigs_blog/2010/09/who-killed-big-corp-innovation.html