Product Mastery Now for Product Managers, Leaders, and Innovators

Product Mastery Now for Product Managers, Leaders, and Innovators

TEI 117: How Pitney Bowes built a Product Management Council – with Felicia Anderson

March 27, 2017

Listen to the Interview
I took notice when Pitney Bowes created a Product Management Council, and I wanted to learn what they are doing with this council. Anytime an organization puts a focus on their product development and management capability, I expect good things to come of it. That’s because products are the revenue engine of organizations and the better job we as product managers and innovators can do creating products that provide customers value, the better it is for our organization.
To find out about this focus that Pitney Bowes has placed on product, I spoke with Felicia Anderson. She is the Senior Director of the Product Management Council and Launch Management at Pitney Bowes. She helps product managers build their skills to increase product launch success and deliver greater business impact.
In our discussion, you’ll learn:

* tips for improving the product management capability of your organization,
* how to construct a vision of the product management team, and
* a simple way to get started through lunch-and-learn meetings.

Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators

* Let’s start with some context — what is the business of Pitney Bowes? At Pitney, we help our clients combine both physical technologies and digital technologies to conduct commerce. So as we like to say, we’re the craftsmen of commerce.


* What is the charter/purpose of the Product Management Council? Our vision is to help our product managers increase their capabilities so that they can have a greater business impact. We believe product management is essential to fueling the growth of the company and increasing the innovation that we’re able to bring to market. At Pitney and in other companies, product management is often distributed throughout the organization and what we’re trying to do with the Product Management Council initiative is to bring that together so that we see each other as a community and we have a place to have a voice jointly.


* What were the events that led to the creation of a Product Management Council? Last Spring, which was before I had joined, our CEO was talking to his executive team and he asked the question, “Who’s responsible for the care and feeding of the product managers?” Because they are distributed in the business units and even in the lines of business within the business units, there wasn’t really a single person or a single set of people who were responsible for the development of product management. As a result of those discussions came this idea of establishing a product management council.


* How is the Council structured? There are two pieces to the product management council initiative. One is the product management leadership team. That’s our executive sponsors and the leaders of each of our five business units. That size of that team is 22 people. We meet monthly and discuss the issues that are at top of mind regarding product management. The second piece, of course, is the broader community itself. It’s the 225 people throughout the organization that comprises the product management community. Most of them are product managers, that’s product managers and their management, and also related stakeholders. We have 30 or 35 people from marketing as well. Some other key stakeholders, like learning and development in HR, also are in that community.


* What activities have you done? Each year or each period we agree at the top level what are our focus areas. So we have different components occurring regularly. The gemstone activity is our annual summit. Once a year we get all of our product managers, in fact, everybody in the product management community, in person, face to face, for a two-day meeting. We just happened to have that PM summit last week.