Patrick Davis

Patrick DavisShare

Group Product Manager, Google
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Patrick Davis
Patrick Davis
Group Product Manager, GoogleAugust 17

Here's how I'd think about it:

  • Some planning cadence where strategy and roadmap can be reviewed at different levels of fidelity. (Annual, Quarterly etc.)
  • Product review with key cross functional stakeholders that isn't viewed as a gate keeping exercise but a feedback process and of course has PMs giving each other feedback
  • Experiment review where the focus is creating excellent hypothesis, treatment arms, and making sure you can measure what you need to
  • Cross functional discipline review and the two most critical ones are UX review that is of course led by the UX team and Launch review

Now these are critical processes even if the PM team is just 1 but the importance of them just grows as you expand the size of your team and these are often the bedrock of how you keep the trains running on time.

Patrick Davis
Patrick Davis
Group Product Manager, GoogleAugust 16

I like this question although more specifics would help as the answer varies. It certainly is a tough skill to master though but worthwhile because this will always be the case. Even at the big companies that I've worked at in Microsoft and Google, who seemingly have all the money and resources in the world, we are always faced with this problem

Here's how I'd think about it. Folks can forgive some changes to ownership over the short term but are much less forgiving of not getting critical tasks done. In other words, what is urgent and impactful but maybe doesn't support long term growth and expansion. Just get folks working on the critical projects and fix ownerships later.

But while doing the above be transparent with the team on how ownership will evolve. There are times where it makes sense for person A to own the project based on how I've set my team up in their swimlanes, but for whatever reason (bandwidth, particular expertise, legacy reasons) person B is working on the project. That's ok, but talk to person A and person B in your 1-1 and explain your thinking and give reassurance.

Patrick Davis
Patrick Davis
Group Product Manager, GoogleAugust 16

I'm lucky in that Google has a really rigorous interview process that I benefit from. Google is also known for taking a long time during that process but I promise you that is largely because of the rigor.

Post that process though what I look for are three key signals

  1. Grit is my first. Big companies are notoriously slow, process heavy, and plodding. But the way I look at this is that with so much user trust, such a large business, and really a huge opportunity that we have to respect we want to get it right. I tell my team all the time that if you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together. And we've all chosen to go far so grit is critical (and sounds cooler than patience)
  2. Passion. Yes this one could seem to fly in the face of the first one. But I often find that I'd rather have somebody always frustrated we can't move faster, always frustrated that we can't do better and help them mature into taking a balanced position than the other way around. Another way to say this is that I can help show somebody the upside of measuring twice and cutting once, but I've never been able to teach passion.
  3. Finally EQ. Most of what PMs do depend on building trust and trust is built via relationships. Too much detail isn't likely needed here as this one is obvious but where I will go into detail is that EQ isn't the same thing as being sociable. I have excellent PMs on my team who build strong relationships that aren't loud and in your face extraverts. EQ comes in all shapes and sizes so look carefully.
Patrick Davis
Patrick Davis
Group Product Manager, GoogleAugust 16

Let me give some guidance here on how I think about it. 

  1. It's critical to have a strong vision, strategy, roadmap, and success metrics for a team
  2. Your org structure should be organized to support the pillars of your strategy
  3. Beyond this there optionality to organize your team functionally the way that engineering teams are organized or strategically that maps more to your success metrics or some hybrid of both
  4. Most critically though you need to have as clean as possible swimlanes for PMs. Giving them a problem area to solve gives them a runway to grow and build a visions, strategy, roadmap, and success metrics for themselves. Don't give them projects, give them problems.

To directly answer your question though I organize my team strategically tackling the strategy pillars we've set out to solve and my engineering and ux counterparts map our squads to each other based on the most logical function overlaps. But this does mean that one PM may be interacting with several engineering leaders to get their work done.

Patrick Davis
Patrick Davis
Group Product Manager, GoogleAugust 16

Absolutely, welcome to the discipline, you're in for quite a ride and I'm super excited for you. 

  1. Optimize for learning and honing your craft. There's a balance to have the confidence to make decisions without all the data and put stakes in the ground even you actually have no clue while balancing always opting to listen and learn and never actually being the expert on anything in the room. Confidant enough to leader while humble enough to learn.
  2. Your career is a long ark. Think about when you started dating. You had no idea what you wanted to needed to be happy. Gaining experience in different areas, different teams and managers will help you put yourself in the right environment to excel
  3. Finally use those same PM skills you build on shipping products on your career. What are your career success metric, what is your career roadmap, what hypothesis do you have about your career and how can you test them.
Patrick Davis
Patrick Davis
Group Product Manager, GoogleAugust 16

This is a good one. I think there are two that often get missed and largely it is because they are hard to measure and expensive to move.

  1. Product excellence. How do you measure customer delight in an impactful way? CSAT and NPS have lots of opportunities to be gamed and are frankly easily ignored. Some of the best products I've used focus on finding the right critical user journeys and continuously measure the success rates of those quantitatively and qualitatively
  2. Product health. Cold boot, warm boot, latency for critical actions, crashes, uptime. All of these things contribute to Product excellence but are much more directly measurable and can really sneak up on you
Patrick Davis
Patrick Davis
Group Product Manager, GoogleAugust 16

I'm a huge fan of all success metrics and OKRs (objectives and key results) being shared between the core cross functional working group.

Of course there will always be some that don't match up; I'm thinking about some SLAs, uptime, latency type KPI's that your engineering team tracks. But by taking them as shared and getting your buy in on those you'll much better understand the deployment of the engineering resources and how best to support that team.

All cross functional teams are critical, but the engineering team is the most critical :)

Patrick Davis
Patrick Davis
Group Product Manager, GoogleAugust 16

I'm not sure it is the most effective because I've really only used one strategy, but it has been effective for me.

  1. Grow your own scope, take on more than you can handle, do a good job of pitching the problem space and opportunity and get broad consensus that this work is critical and required.
  2. Then make it clear and obvious that to succeed in this new problem space it will require you to drop a piece of your current scope that is critical
  3. Hire for that role

In particular something I'll note is that the best thing to give up to grow a team is the thing you're closest too. The thing you know best. It'll be the hardest thing to give up, but in doing this you help guarantee that the person you hire is best set up for success and that you'll be a good manager/mentor for that person.

Patrick Davis
Patrick Davis
Group Product Manager, GoogleAugust 16

Oooohhhh, this is a good one and something I spend a lot of time balancing.

Product owns the product and at the end of the day both gets unearned credit and unearned blame. It is your neck on the line for the end to end experience. Thinking through the experience that users get both in product and out of product (traditionally the domain of marketing) is well within Product's scope.

That being said, as you expand your career and scope you'll find more and more that you don't scale. Not just in terms of time but in terms of expertise. Figuring out a structure that lets you contribute to marketing efforts without owning them is your best bet for the future.

The final thought here is be generious with credit. There's no limit to the number of disciplines that can get credit for accomplishments. Give Marketing unearned credit for things mostly drive by Product and what you'll get back is much more willingness to get your guidance and willingness to collaborate.

Patrick Davis
Patrick Davis
Group Product Manager, GoogleAugust 16

Thank you for the question and I'm sure this is exactly not the answer you're looking for which is, "it depends"

You're balancing building trust and relationships, understanding your users and the business, and likely an evolving company strategy. So the question you need to ask yourself is what are you optimizing for?

The runway of your company is critical to consider, but I always lean towards how might we prioritize learnings and building trust to build out a strong product roadmap

Credentials & Highlights
Group Product Manager at Google
Product Management AMA Contributor