Product Manager: Hawk of the Market

My friend and colleague Stacey shared this with me. She writes,

Red-tailed Hawk This morning, I took my morning coffee to the front deck. It's finally spring here (Wisconsin), and winter was so long that it actually feels strange not to cringe when you step outside. Well, the winter is finally really gone, despite holding on as long as possible. The last of the snow melted from the northern hillsides last week, and the grass will soon be calling to be mowed.

So I was outside, enjoying some fresh ground, extra-strong-just-the-way-I-like-it Kona coffee, and I spotted a huge Red-Tailed Hawk. She was perched in a large White Oak at the edge of the lawn, very still. The only reason I saw her is because the sun was shining from behind, and her body was bulkier than the surrounding branches.

I was almost finished with my first cup when she dove. With a powerful swing of the wings, the hawk swooped down, pursuing some prey that I couldn't see from my vantage point.

She reached the ground, and was pretty obscured from my vision by the tall grass around her. After a few moments of getting situated, she took off with what appeared to be a mouse. Coffee for me, mouse tar tare for my red-tailed friend.

When a hawk is perching, one could believe that it's at rest. If you watched long enough, you might even begin to think it's lazy, just resting there surveying its surroundings.

It's neither resting nor lazy. The hawk seeks just the right location, with the best perspective on the land. If she was looking sideways, she'd never see that small mouse or rabbit because they'd be hidden by vegetation. She's got to get out of the fray, up to an elevation where she can see the whole landscape of possibility. The vantage point is crucial to the hawk's hunt.

Product Managers have to get out of the fray, too. All that stuff that happens in the office is the ground vegetation, obstructing our view of the market at large. No matter how your development team functions, which methods or processes or tools they employ, the most important thing you can do is to get OUT of the office. Rise up out of the tall grass, and find a good perspective from a vantage point IN the market, not IN the office!

Be the hawk of the market, and remember that you can't spot the next big opportunity if you're bogged down in the tall grass inside your company's four walls!

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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