2000 Comments for Company President

April 27, 2007

Source:
Product management survey
December, 2000

In our annual product management survey, the final question was 'If I could say one thing to our company president without fear of reprisal, it would be...'  The answers are listed below, grouped arbitrarily by keyword or idea. Some have been edited as being too company-specific (or in danger of causing a reprisal).

The themes are pretty clear:

  • get a long-term strategy that doesn't change with each sales contract,

  • stop micromanaging the company departments,

  • listen to the market, and

  • fairly compensate your employees.


Communication

Get more of your staff involved earlier and more often in strategic business planning.  Communicating with us on a consistent, predictable basis is critical to our ongoing success. Improve the management communication; it stinks.

Communicate better!  To both internal employees and to have a more consistent message to our markets and customers...

Decide on and clearly communicate a specific mission and vision

Our company needs to focus on communicating the problems and direction of the company to its employees.

Better communication is needed from executives to the rest of us.

It is all about communication.  Communication is shaped by organizational structure.   Put serious management attention into continuous internal organization and communication improvements, and I believe that many key externally visible improvements will intrinsically accrue.

We need to communicate internally better!

In order for us to keep the best and the brightest we need more internal programs on better communication and team building.

Please shorten the speeches.

Communicate and listen to those who know how to get the job done!

Listen and understand your developers and sales team, because they are your eyes and ears to new technology and your potential and current customers.

Tell me what you are really thinking

Learn how to communicate and manage people effectively.

Communicate business conditions more frequently

He knows what he is doing, I just wished we saw more of him.

Communicate the company's strategy and execution plan to the employees

Communicate!

Our management needs to foster more effective 'top-down? communication, as well as empowering decision-making at mid-management levels.


Focus

Focus investment on a key few select markets and streamline the portfolio based on these few select markets

Globalize or die

Don't get confused global with Americanized, global also requires global management with international managers for different cultures

Need to focus resources and set the direction of the organization

We need to focus on narrower set of objectives/areas. The current allocation of resources across so many projects makes us ineffective.

We need better focus on marketing priorities.

Please allow the market to determine the content of our products.

?Customer focused? means every department, and frequently it means explaining how to do it to each department.

Learn to focus on the strategic direction of the business and leave the operational stuff to the people you hired to do it (our CEO is the classic small company guy who is still learning to let others drive as his company grows up)

Now that we've reorganized (again), let's refocus on core business (not try to be all things to all people) to return the company to profitability.

focus

Focus, focus, focus.

This company on the verge of making or breaking it, but we need to get a focus on what we want to accomplish.  We also need to do a real look at where we are and why things work or don't work.  We need to do a true analysis of why we are having problems getting products to market and sold!

Take control of this damn company and give it some focus.

The larger this organization gets and the faster it grows the more important it is to focus clearly and aggressively on market objectives

Stop changing the course of a product with one passing phrase--decide what you want and let us make it happen!

Get a real FOCUS!

Slow down the acquisitions, we're not delivering on what we have.

We need more focus as a company. It makes my life a living hell because my job roles and products change by the day...

We need to be more focused and more market-driven in our development.   R&D is focused on how our co-founder used our products and not focused on how our prospects want to use our products.

Focus and execute.

We try to be all things to all people and are always in a reactionary mindset

Take more time to understand the differences between our software and hardware/services divisions.

We need more focus!

Focus more outside the company rather than inside.

Develop a strategic vision, communicate this vision, create a plan to get there, and STICK TO IT!  We need focus, we need to listen to our customers--have more focus groups.

He tends to add things to development without regard for existing plan

get with the program... wake up and see what is going on and get this company on the right track

Focus

Begin with a solid marketing plan and execute on that as much as possible, rather than haphazardly developing mini marketing strategies around bits of acquired technology.

Stay focused.

Choose a path for the company and us  employees, make a fast and determined transition, and then stay on track. There is too much wavering and indecisiveness.

Make a decision, any decision.

We need you to focus on a clear strategy for our company and products, and not try to do too many things simultaneously. We don't have enough resources to do too many things at once.

Pick one goal, in one direction and execute a path to that goal.

Cross the chasm and stop trying to be all things to all people.

Let's set the goal and stick to it.

There is no balance to our objectives.  We are either all marketing or all product and don't seem to ever get anywhere!  There needs to be a balance between strategic and tactical activities.  We always change focus 95% from one to the other, never really balancing them out.

Our company lacks a clear focus on particular markets & market segments, which prevents us from being much more successful.

Focus.  We can't be all things to all people.

Focus on the things we do well and don't take on more than we can handle.

Learn to focus your business.  Marketing is too important to delegate.

Pick a series of strategies and stay with them long enough for it to stick with the sales force.  The constant change causes people to be always lacking skills.

making decisions is integral to making products. You can't have one without the other

Take a chance

Choose a course, and stay it!

Define your core competency and stick with it--don't be in 4 products, 4 markets and 4 competitive spaces at the same time.

Take care of the corporation's strategy.  Stop trying to design web pages.  And for God's sake, prioritize development initiatives and stop adopting a flavor-of-the-week approach to product development!

Develop a strategy, communicate the strategy and stick to it.

Our company seems to be in transition. A clear statement of our direction is required and your actions must re-enforce your words.

Let's focus more on creating satisfied customers profitably, and less on the latest 'tech company trend de jour!

Keep focused

Execution is everything


Hiring

Please only hire the brightest.

I need a little help here, I can't do this all by myself.

Get rid of our company President and hire talented, successful sales people.

It is not true that ?anybody? can do what I do.

We need more resources.

How do you possibly expect this company to grow at the rate you have budgeted if you won't add some bodies.

Hire managers that can make decisions.

We need to hire further ahead of the demand curve, we are waiting until the new people cannot be effective in the project they are hired for.

We need to hire marketing people that are marketing educated and focused--NOT sales oriented.

Times are changing and if we hope to stay competitive in hiring and keeping good people we need to be more competitive in our salary structure.

We need better HR strategy and support for recruiting and keeping qualified software developers.


Knowledge

The CEO needs to get a better understanding of our industry. Also, our company is more politic-driven instead of market-driven. Would be nice for the CEO to know the difference.

Just take a moment and try to understand our division's business.

If you're going to muck with the product, at least get some training so you know what you're doing.

I would recommend that he enroll in an EMBA program.

Learn Silicon Valley:)


Kudos

Thank you for keeping the company running with a 'family atmosphere.'  It makes coming to work a pleasure, rather than a drudge.  This is the best company I have ever worked for.

Great job; keep it up.

Thanks for the splits! You da man!

My CEO is a very open person and I already say everything to him that I feel should be said.

Do what you need to do to keep that stock going up!!!

Thank you for the opportunity.

He is DAMN good at what he does

You go, dude!

Good domain knowledge.

Smooth move, buster.

Our CEO is an aggressive, entrepreneurial, and personal guy.

doing a great job.

He has great vision

He is a nice guy.

Keep up the good work!

Let's keep up the growth rate and get out there and WIN!


Leadership

Get rid of some of the upper management.  We are too top heavy.

We need stronger executive leadership in order to be successful.  Now we have a number of people in place that don't appear to have the skill set to take us to the next higher level.

Your actions speak louder than your words when you say that family comes first.

Enable employees to cut through the red tape and get some real work done.

Communicate the vision better!

We need better managers.  The most technical people do not make good managers.  Also, we definitely have a ?boy's club? at the top.

Hire quality marketing and sales leadership.

Listen to your employees.

Stay out of my way.  Let me and the lead developer get our work done.  Don't keep butting in with your two cents.

Don't forget the importance of the company's culture and core values as it grows (i.e. profit isn't everything)

Make the most of the talents and skills found in the people in the company rather than trying to fit warm bodies into a predetermined job set.

Make sure that individuals are capable of performing their responsibilities and don't receive them via the  ?promoting the below-average in order to just get rid of them? routine.'

Pass the baton

You can't arbitrarily change the meaning of words in the English language just because you don't like what they imply.

Redefine the Operations model used by Sales team.

Listen to all the people who work for you, not just your buddies

What the hell do you think you're doing!

Quit micromanaging and trust the people below you

spend more time at headquarters.

Where is he? I haven't seen him in over three months.

Think with your head, not with your ego. Recognize your team and the valuable skills each give to the company.

Go do something. Be aggressive.

Strategic Marketing should be more considered by management that is too technical-focused

Improve the management of the company

He needs to let the VP of Sales worry about the sales instead of riding his back.

Become the CFO and hire a leader as the CEO.

You're in the way

Look at the ?peter principle? in action--there are a lot of people at the director level of management with no clue as to what is going on or how to think out of a box. This stifles the level below and is a shame since the level above is strong and competent.

Becoming a ?product company? will make us successful.  Trust me and my team to drive the product business.  Support the attitude within this company that Marketing (in cooperation with you) has the final say in decisions concerning our products.

Make a decision and go with it--need to be more timely

I have forgotten what you look like.

Drop the consensus management thing... it doesn't result in any focused direction, firm decision making or individual commitment to obtaining results

stop the re-orgs and get down to business before we lose our lead in the market!

Swing the axe and get rid of the losers that are dragging the company down!!

Cross-functional departments need to complement each other as a team--- not against each other in political battles.

We need better role definition and career planning help.

Admit your mistakes

Please stop acting as the PMM for the ?flagship? product.  Please let the product have positioning and messaging distinct but compatible with the corporate positioning rather than making them to be one and the same exact message.  Please let this positioning and messaging gel long enough to create marketing programs and collateral around it.  Please make decisions based on quantifiable research rather than a general feeling--and when you don't do this, please build consensus among people of my level and involve us in the decision making process.  To be held responsible for something you so often meddle in without communicating at all is a horrible job.

Quit listening only to the company's founders, and pay attention to people with industry experience.

Your attempts to grow the company into a ?large? company have failed because of your arrogance and lack of vision. You surround yourself with pedigrees rather than talent.

Communicate our mission and objectives (you do have them don't you?)

Lead me! Give me direction and vision for what we want to achieve!

You are not listening to and cherishing the talent of your employees.  You acquire good companies and drive away their best people through your own organizational incompetence.

I need some defined, measurable objectives so I can focus!

invest in product marketing...

We need to do something in this company that will raise morale, it's getting low these days.

You need to be replaced.

Show me the leadership!!

Welcome aboard.  I hope that you do better things for our stock price when we go public than you did at your last company.

How can we convince the executive team to buy-in to Pragmatic Institute's practices with the result of reducing the amount of reactive management to become more reactive?

Increase the ?fun? factor around here!

Learn to value your employees.

We need to move forward faster, don't hold on so tightly to the past.

Too many secrets

Improve your inter-personal skills and you would gain tremendous respect.

Don't fear change, embrace it.

It's an organization, not a fiefdom. Treat it that way.

Encourage all parts of the company to work together.

Get us organized...and quickly!

Hold your executives accountable to business objectives, and fire the VP's of Sales and Marketing.... they are awful.

Its time for new blood to take the leadership.

Be more market aggressive and less an accountant.

Do not wait for the market to come to you, make the market happen.  Take a few risks.

As a software company, what matters most at the end of the day is what problem do we solve for our customers.  This should be our guiding idea rather than specific revenue or size goals, which do not have the ability to rally and build confidence in people.

You're doing a great job but talk to employees to find out what's happening in the company.

Move over

Be more aggressive on growth.....and fix the execution issues.

There is a need for direction and support from top management down.  This includes taking the time to understand the history of the decisions made without reprisal.

Effective management of hyper-growth company is our biggest challenge.

My Director needs to have leadership qualities.


Becoming market-driven

We have to spend the time and money to develop the features lacking in our products to be competitive in our market.

It doesn't matter what you think, it is what the customer thinks that matters.

Make sure every employee knows exactly what market we are in, who our customers and competitors are, where we are going, how we plan to get there and focus on the target.

Stop talking to Vice Presidents and Division heads and start listening to customers.

Let's truly ?walk the talk? and become a market driven company instead of still being R&D driven.

Make decisions based on business reasons, not personal goals.

Please read the Market Driven Organization and let's remold our culture to value its beliefs as well as voraciously build a set repeatable processes around those beliefs.

You do not support employees in championing new ideas, it seems like they must come from you or they can't succeed.

Focus more on the customer and become more market-driven.

Follow the basic marketing rules: Establish a lead customer to pay for development.  Establish foothold in a single market.  Win the early-adopters.

Strive to be more market-driven and less sales-driven

Expand your source of input from your elite group of advisors and meet with some of the troops directly. Pay attention.

Prospect Problems!

Take a more market-driven approach to new product development, trusting in market analysis data rather than casual observations.

You gotta be less deal driven and much more product strategy driven. We need more technical/product leadership in the business units.

Do not rely on sales people for strategic thinking or planning.

Being market driven is the key to obtaining future corporate objectives.

Create more of a sales and customer support culture!!!

With the Prod Mgt organization reporting to Development, our product represents less and less of what the customer needs and more of what development thinks it needs without customer's input.

Change the company from a Technology led company to a Market led company

Become a product driven company producing solutions for the marketplace which we serve.


Micro-management

Why do you believe that you can estimate the development time for a project more accurately than the development team?

You have a tendency to micro-manage and make knee-jerk decisions.

Trust marketing to do their job and don't escalate every decision to the highest management.

Stop micromanaging

He has hired some excellent people and he needs to let them exceed in their field of knowledge without micromanaging day-to-day activities.

Stop the top down decision making!

Empower your people to make the right decisions. They know what they're doing.

Loosen your grip on day-to-day activities and focus on the big picture.  Lead more and manage less.

You hired us; now trust us.

just let me do my f---ing job w/o any more ?help? from corporate.

Allow the people in the company ownership of their areas of responsibilities--they have been assigned responsibilities based on the fact that they are supposedly capable yet they are not given the freedom to do what needs to be done sometimes.

Remember we are making a product for our chosen market segments--you don't qualify

Flatten the organization and allow decisions to be made at the most appropriate level in the organization.

Get out of the details.  Drive and communicate our strategic direction, and let your managers execute on this vision.


Other

elevate expectations

We need to produce sales tools that are used, not just define success by the size of the stack of sales tools.

Anything over 40 hours a week is a gift.  Don't expect evening and weekend work on a regular basis, and don't send my traveling for your benefit on my time. I have a life, and it isn't my work.

Need to invest in IT more!

too many to list... !

get out in front of the investors more!

Create the following 2 task forces which will report directly to you until the objectives are met:--1) How to cross-functionally improve the customer experience and 2) How to retain key employees

What's next?

He's very conservative

Our web site currently looks a lot like a 13-year-old wrote and designed a lot of it...but that's not a compliment.

You're a software Engineer, not God.

You think like an Engineer too much.

I never see him

I never see him

Carpe Diem

He does not place enough value on our heritage software products & the market niche that such products serve.

When will the stock price get back to historical levels.

too many to say

Run this company like a Silicon Valley company, not like a traditional Mid-Western traditional organization

Ditch the bitch running sales!

Get a life!

You spend far too much money as a percentage of revenue on the direct sales channel.

He is a very good visionary with a good handle on what it takes to execute as well.


Compensation

Pay me more! ;)

Change the overall compensation strategy.

That we need to be more aggressive and hire more resources. eg--engineers, support people.  And of course increase our salaries and bonuses, instead of saving all of it for a rainy day!

The company needs to find a way to create a bonus program. Our current system of flat compensation is very regressive and gives the company an image of ?old IBM? as opposed to a new and exciting place to work. (Sometimes the company lives up to the first image, but most of the time it is a fun and exciting place to be.)  Compensation plans are, I think, behind the times.

The high turn over in Product Marketing is due to salary skimping.

You should value your employees more, and provide opportunities for professional enhancement/training.

Compensate the people who work for you appropriately!

Unless you introduce a performance related bonus scheme I will not be working here much longer.  In a few years the only people left working here will be those who cannot find a job elsewhere.

PMs need incentives to kill products to streamline the product line and increase profitability.  For the products that are kept, the PMs need more control over the marketing budgets and more personal investment in the products success.

Show me the Money!

We need to share the wealth more and reward those who contribute more than their fair share.

You're taking advantage of our being a 'small company? and of my gender.  Men doing what I do receive more than twice my salary.

California, particularly Silicon Valley, is a very important arena and you need to be a part of it and compensate your employees fairly.

When we raise money, let's not burn it up on hiring a bunch of people with big salaries, rather hire motivated people and incentivise them for their hard work.

Include all employees in a bonus program! Not just managers!

If the CEO wants us to act like and perform like CEOs for our products, then he has to compensate us accordingly with more Stock Options that are an incentive as they are currently so little and do not give us incentive to work harder.

Thanks for the powerful new laptop. But not having my stock options renewed after two years with the company was a big demotivator.

I need a raise.

You lack willingness to share company success via share options and other incentives

Our compensation plan stinks and morale is so low it's off the scale.  If you don't do something to fix it soon, we'll be out of business.

pay people more

let's have a real bonus program

Salaries and roles are very inconsistent.  Education and experience should be taken into consideration as well as ensuring that same roles are compensated in an equal fashion based on a salary range as well education, experience, contribution and long term value to the team.

Stock options should be available across the board.

Link executive team motivation/compensation to the same set of company goals.

Time to share the wealth.


Process

Introduce more process and standardization--the company has grown very rapidly and there are few common processes as a result. (This hinders understanding and communication.)

A business plan is a very useful tool.  You should try it sometime.

Let's do more long-term planning.

We need to have internal and external development to increase our speed to market.

You say we're a software company yet all of our processes and metrics are hardware slanted.

Let's get the process right!


Product management

Make sure everyone in the company understands the value of Product Management.

Get me out of the project management side of the business and more focused on the strategic aspects.

Don't make product decisions without discussing with the product manager

Fully support product marketing and process within your company to reap greater profits!

Let product managers do their job as defined (and described in the Pragmatic Institute course). Don't have product managers run around doing reactive sales support and ad hoc competitive analysis. In the end it will have the greatest positive impact on the company, by ensuring the very best products for customers. Give product managers the responsibility and authority to truly call the shots. Don't let engineering dictate what they 'think? the customer wants/needs.

Find a more effective way of involving Product Management in thinking strategically about the company's business.

You should meet with your Product Managers on a regular basis. We'd like to know that our market research and product plans and strategic plans are taken into account as the overall corporate strategy is developed.

The company needs to understand and utilize product portfolio analysis.

The company currently faces many problems which Marketers are trained to solve: pricing, product strategy, identifying target markets, etc.  By relying on engineering and sales to these answers--instead of marketing -  we are missing our mark.

Strategic Marketing could boost sales and revenue if you made it a valued part of the organization.

Our product marketing team must be dedicated to acquiring customer input for our product development efforts.  Right now, we are not doing this well at all.

Pay attention to the importance of product management.  Without product management all of your EXTREMELY well paid developers (who seem to have the run of the place and be able to demand and get whatever they want) would create technology, NOT products.  We're the ones in charge of getting the products to the right place, but we get none of the credit or compensation.  And by the way, our odd blend of technical and business skills is not as easy to replace as you might think...

Make it clear to the company that Product Management's role is to drive our products forward, not just to keep track of minor enhancement requests and write simple requirements for development.

You must believe in the need for product management in order for this company to be even more successful.

We still haven't implemented true Product Management and we are never going to get anywhere unless we have dedicated R&D for new product development. I'd rather be there instead.

Allow Product Managers to manage the product planning and roadmap and incent us creatively to meet corporate objectives.

Support the role of Product Management.

BizDev deals are gonna kill me! They don't further the product.

Put more focus and value into the Product Management (or Marketing in general) function of the business. We are more than collateral, sales support, and demo cd's.

Have the patience to permit what is a relatively new product management discipline within our company take hold and have a chance to have its effect.


Strategy

We need a more cohesive strategy around our three lines of business.  We have one single sales force selling all three but we are building and marketing products in 3 different silos.

Please remember that we are running a business not a hobby farm.

There is no strategy for me to follow.  We change course at the drop of a hat and just because you understand ?why? doesn't mean anyone else in the company understands it.

We've got to complete a corporate strategy that supports product planning across all lines of business--the market is collapsing due to technology and we're not prepared to consolidate the overlapping lines of business

Define a corporate strategy

We need a clearer company strategy, and we need to tie that strategy directly back into product development.

We need to spend more time on strategic planning!

Stick with a strategy for longer than 6 months

The open systems software market and the mainframe software market are not the same thing!

Develop a strategy and stick with it  for longer than six months.

The ?if we build it, they will come? philosophy is over.  We have to go out to the clients and see what they need, want, and are willing to pay for.  Then we have to have the infrastructure in place to build it.  We need to invest in ourselves, Marketing/Systems/People before we can be a market leader.

Your inside-out product strategy is keeping us from being truly successful.

Communicate the company's strategy better!

Loosen up those purse strings and let us grow the company.

Get an action plan together to expand sales channels, to allocate more resources, to more competitively attack the market.

One sales opportunity shouldn't represent a change in direction.

Sometimes he is too willing to cause long-term problems to solve short term ones.

I would tell him about a quote that I remember from class -  ?9 out of 10 products are introduced to fill a void in the company's product line, not to fill a void in the market.

Get a clue. Re-invest into areas that we can actually grow, such as the software side of our business.

Set the strategy

We need more corporate strategy, to present a clearer and more consistent view of our company to our customers and to the analysts.

The company moves to slow because it is so anti-risk.  It takes so long to  analyze potential opportunities for ally possible risk factors that the  opportunity is gone by the time we get around to doing it.

Be more aggressive in defining and adopting internet and web based solutions in our group within the company.

Pay more attention to product strategy and operations

Ever read Deming's book?  What did he say about ?drive out fear?

Since I work for a very large company,  I would like to know whether the top corporate management master plan is really what us small fry are told?'

Technology is a hot-seat right now, but sitting and waiting for it to calm down will result in a very long wait and a bad rep in the investor world.

Don't individualize the product for each sale--come up with a standard business model and a standard product and sell consulting services on top of it.

A strong web front could enhance our market share by competing against our low end competitors.

You may think it is cool to be 18 months ahead of the market, but understand that that means we are not IN the market.

Has somewhat unrealistic expectations influenced by outside forces.

Your opinion, while interesting, is irrelevant

Please, catch a cl

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