Product Management – What Makes a Good PLM?

A survey of standard wording in Product Line Manager (PLM) job postings reveals the following skills and attributes:

Project planning


Team motivation and delegation

Budgeting and data analysis skills

Understanding and experience with related business

Goal oriented Customer service

Documentation skills

Team player

Written, verbal, and communication skills

Organizational skills and attention to detail

Time management skill

Ability to work tight deadlines

Fast learner

Ability to work independently or in a group.

All of the above are important, but do they really describe what is ideal for a project manager or do they actually describe what is ideal for every single employee. I suggest the following attributes to be as important as, or rather, more important than the above attributes:

Care deeply about the company and that it’s products are of high quality and technically sound.

Defines the product accurately and ensures that it performs according to its intended use.

Makes sure that during the planning stages and during the lifetime of the product the right people are involved in making decisions.

All decisions gauge the impact the decision will have on the customer.

Understands all aspects of how the product works, how it is manufactured, and how the client uses it.

Understands the company and ensures that all new products fit within the companies business model.

Understands “the law of compensation” and balances company goals with speed and quality constraints.

Takes initiative to solve difficult problems: whether happening with existing projects or if they would require a new project. Does this before executives realize there ever was a problem.

Shares victory with the team, accepts accountability for failures alone.

All vision setting keeps the business in mind.

The business is to manufacture and sell high quality product for a profit.

Steps to Quality Project Management

Make sure that the company does not see project managers as paper pushers and meeting setters. Instead, project managers are seen as a means to enable the best, most productive, and enjoyable work. This is done by enabling full team cooperation in all facets of a project / product by accurately communicating the vision and goals of the product and explaining the value of its existence. Team members consist of all departments and are allowed to input their viewpoints on aspects of the product that effect their departments. Goals are established and team members are given “ownership” of the goal. The time of product to market decreases because all affected parties are developing materials related to the product during its development.

Product design. Questions to be answered: What is the purpose of the widget? Who will use the widget? Why will they want the widget? How will we sell the widget? How is success measured? Do we release by a certain date, or when minimum specs are met? Do we keep to a maximum cost, or do we exceed costs if necessary to meet specs. Does the widget fit with the company goals, and existing products.

Goals are defined in the beginning, during, and at the end of the product life cycle. Goals are defined by actual use by the potential customer Market surveys. Existing and upcoming regulations. Experience of experienced staff. Communication with known experts. Desired final outcome including product life.

Teams. A team is an assimilation of ideas working together for one common goal and that goal is to produce a product that will benefit the buyer and provide both the buyer and the seller with a profit. A team consists of Product Line, Sales, Marcom, Manufacturing, R&D, Service, Tech Support, and Accounting. Including everyone in the team and assigning each member of the team set goals brings product to market faster, trains the sales and service faster, ensures that there is a marketing message established upon release, and guarantees that products are developed to suit the needs of the customer. Success is measured by Success. If the product is a useful quality instrument that performs adequately and allows the client to save time and make a profit then it is a good product. If the product is a good product that can be sold at a profit and is in high demand it is successful. If a product is successful then the company is successful. Hence, success is measured by success.

What makes a good PLM? A good PLM must be observing and able to draw inferences about all possible effects of decisions made. A good PLM must assimilate knowledge and be able to accurately organize, and measure that knowledge objectively into something that is useful. A good PLM translates ideas into tangible objects that increase the value of existing products or turns an idea into something completely new. The good PLM realizes that it is impossible to conceptualize a product without knowing its demand so that learning about the product and its uses never stops.

Since innovation involves risk, the good PLM must be willing to take risks, and must be willing to accept responsibility for the inevitable failures that result from risks taken. The good PLM must have accurate knowledge of all products and processes of the product, and must have an uncanny knowledge of the uses of the product, both past, present, and future. The good PLM must be a team player and readily accept the ideas of others because no one person can know everything. The good PLM recognizes the strength of the mastermind and allows the team to submit ideas and follow these ideas through to their physical form. The good PLM shares all success with the team publicly.

Negotiation: An Important Life Skill for Divorcing Women and Everyone Else

Negotiation presents a positive option for anyone facing a dispute. The dispute can be big or small. It can involve any kind of problem in any setting. It is a gentler, less contentious approach to conflict resolution. Instead of digging in your heels for the sake of proving you are right or focusing on getting every single thing you want, you can choose to negotiate. The goal of negotiation is for two or more parties to solve a problem between them through compromise. It requires that the participants have more interest in finding a fair solution than fighting to win. No matter how difficult relationships may be, if people are committed to solving a problem in a reasonable and thoughtful way, it is possible for them to find a mutually acceptable agreement. In this respect, one could say that in the end, everyone wins.

That being said, negotiation is not easy, especially if the people involved are getting a divorce. It requires that both individuals make a commitment to a fair process. To achieve this, each must be willing to listen respectfully to the other. Listening with empathy without interrupting or criticizing is critical. This is easier said than done since so often, people who are dealing with conflict resolution may already have angry feelings. During discussions, they may be tempted to get defensive or start an argument.

To successfully negotiate, they need to be able to control and manage their feelings. Basic ground rules such as staying on topic, no blaming, no listing the other person’s mistakes, no threats, no intimidation and no yelling may be needed. In addition, for each person, self management techniques such as “self-talk” (thinking phrases such as “I don’t need to prove myself here.” or “I can stay calm.”) or the practice of a calming breathing technique before speaking can be helpful. Ideally, during negotiations each person is able to maintain an assertive attitude. standing up for her/his rights while remaining flexible, honest, direct, appropriate and respectful of the other person’s rights.

Let’s say for our purposes, you and whomever you have a dispute with are both good candidates to negotiate. Before you actually start negotiating, each of you should develop your own definition of the problem that needs to be solved. Each of you should also have clearly thought out short-term (what needs to happen immediately) and long-term (what a final solution might look like) goals. Expect that your problem definitions and goals may be quite different. Using all of your self-restraint, flexibility and good listening skills, you and your negotiating partner need to come up with just one problem definition. Together, you need to discuss, clarify and re-frame until you are both satisfied with how you define the problem.

The next challenge is determining how much overlap there is between the two of you regarding your short-term and long-term goals. Summarize and emphasize points of agreement. Using the same self-restraint, flexibility, good listening skills and assertive attitude, consider whether a compromise is necessary. Together, can you find a way for each of you to get exactly what you want? It is rare that this happens. However, it certainly is a wonderful relief when it does.

If it is just not possible for each of you to get exactly what you want, short-term or long-term, then you need to work together to list several fair compromises/solutions. This may take brainstorming. Open your mind. Consider all possible solutions. Focus on those which are most likely to bring about a satisfactory, fair and mutually agreeable conclusion for both of you.

However, remember to stand up for yourself. In your own mind, you need to be very clear not only about what you want, but also about what you absolutely need. Want and need certainly do overlap. Wanting can cover everything. Needing is much more specific. It is that critical factor which has to be part of the agreement for you to feel comfortable and satisfied at the end of your negotiations. You can give up a lot, if you get what you need. Remember, be flexible but, be clear and assertive about what you need.

If no acceptable compromise is immediately evident, agree to take a break and meet again. Some people limit their negotiation discussions to 30 or 60 minutes at a time. They expect to meet a few times before they are done. Others just stick with it until they are finished. As long as you are able to respectfully talk and work out your differences, the time table doesn’t matter. What is important is that in the end, you each believe that you gained enough of what is important to you so you can walk away feeling satisfied and that your agreement is acceptable and fair. If you are one of the rare people able to negotiate a divorce agreement on your own, remember, before signing anything, it is still very important to run the final agreement by your attorney.

If emotions are running too high or your situation is too complicated to negotiate yourself, you might consider mediation. In mediation, you work with a professional mediator who is trained to help the parties stay focused and calm so they can reach an acceptable and fair agreement. For readers who are interested, “divorce mediation” will be the topic of one of my upcoming articles.

Again, 1:1 negotiation is not for everyone, especially not all couples going through a divorce. However, the qualities it requires: emotional calmness, flexibility, respect, good listening, and assertiveness, are good to cultivate. After all, in today’s world, we are faced with many opportunities to resolve conflicts, big and small. Understanding and being able to apply some of the basic tenets of negotiation can help us at work, at home and in our neighborhood.

Presenting Yourself in Public – What Your Mother Didn’t Tell You

Everyone tells you “should not” worry about how you present yourself and what others will think of you. Not worry about your self-presentation? Nonsense! It is both adaptive and essential that you be concerned about the impressions you make in not only social situations but also in your business. First impressions are what influence others to want to interact with you. This means you need to be aware of it and motivated to make them represent the best of you to your audience.

What can help you create ongoing best impressions?

You need to know and follow the norms for any particular context and the role you occupy in it. They may have different assigned behaviors and expectations. If they are new to you, learn about them ahead of time rather than just assuming you know what to do. Not meeting them is like talking on a cell phone during a funeral which will get you labeled as a “tacky,” “dumb,” or “ignorant.”

You need always to present yourself positively and confidently but with a touch of modesty. While you can disclose and refer to yourself, you need to keep the focus on the other person. You are listening to learn about the other person’s concerns and to find any similarities. Similarities enhance attractiveness. When you are seen as similar in some areas, the other person will assume there are many more areas of positive similarity. Similarities are important for creating rapport.

When you get people to talk about themselves, you can use what they say to tailor your presentation to focus on the perceived values and preferences of the other person. You are looking for areas for connecting and bonding. Remember: Even if the person is putting you to sleep, you need to practice civil attention by appearing involved and attentive. Appearing the least bit inattentive or disinterested in the conversation or topic erases any good feelings you have already created.

Your self-presentation needs to be consistent with your beliefs and attitudes and consistent across situations. It is necessary to share yourself as you are rather than as a chameleon. Taking on the attitudes and beliefs of whoever your audience is at the moment smacks of deception and manipulation. Such behavior immediately squelches trust. Likewise, fabrication of anything in your self-presentation, whether in speaking or in writing, however minor, makes it nearly impossible to recover your trustworthiness.

Your self-presentation helps you define a positive relationship between you and your audience. It enables your public to confidently know you in advance, feel comfortable with you, and know what to expect of you in further interactions.