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Tips and Free Resources to become a Great Product Manager
Tips and Free Resources to become a Great Product Manager

Managing without Authority by Google PM

Product Managers are often described as the CEOs of product. While it’s a good way of briefly explaining the role, it’s not entirely true – PMs don’t have the power to hire, fire or give executive orders to anyone. Despite this, they do need to be able to have the authority to influence a team enough so they collaborate on and implement the product vision.

In our recent talk, Akshay Kannan, PM at Google, gave an overview of how Product Managers can manage people without authority.


Product Manager at Google

Akshay Kannan is a Product Manager on the Android team at Google, currently working on Authentication and Identity. He joined Google in 2011 through the APM program and comes from a software engineering background. He launched Autofill in Android, is working on making 911 location better and has led many other initiatives to use the sensors and smarts on a mobile phone to build more assistive end-user experiences.


Manage without Authority

They say that a great idea is worthless without polished execution. In this event, Akshay explained some tactics for executing ideas within an organization. This could be as simple as a new feature that you want to build, or something as complex as a total priority shift.

As a Product Manager, you don’t have the luxury of authority for forcing a team to do something. In many cases, the teams that you need to convince may not even be in your organization. This talk will touch on some techniques that you can use to turn your ideas into a reality.

Manage without Authority in Product Roles by Google PM


In a nutshell:

  • Do your homework:
  • Build a prototype or MVP.
    • Believe in the power of the demo. It’s easier for people to understand and get the whole picture.
    • Getting at least one person bought-in can validate your idea and help the others get in too.
    • If you can’t do a demo, represent it visually some other way.
  • Bottom-up consensus.
  • Top-down consensus.
    • Find a senior endorser who can:
      • Help you refine your pitch.
      • Back you up.
      • Understands leadership and can help you predict concerns.
    • Take your idea to leadership.
      • Know your audience – who you’re talking to.
      • Refine your argument.
      • Less is more.
  • Follow-up aggressively.
    • Give periodic updates to the executives.
    • Email them every month, for example.
    • Helps to have a level of visibility.
    • Make the execs aware of how things are advancing; they don’t like surprises.
  • If all else fails, do it yourself.
  • Doing something wrong is better than not doing it at all.
  • Long decisions are better than no decision.
  • If you truly have a great idea and can’t get buy-in, take it with you.


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