Over the last few years, I’ve seen a pattern when firms approach me for product workshops.

Most of these firms have adopted Agile as a way of working, but with limited success. Poor implementation of the product owner role & lack of understanding of the difference with product management is a key confusion point. I sign up to do a practical skilling assignment, then nudge senior leadership to understand deeper issues.

In a recent workshop for a Fortune 100 firm, participants were honest in saying that they were all project managers till a month before, but were rechristened technical product managers as the firm’s strategy was to move to a product approach. We spoke a lot about role clarity and skills. I later had a discussion with the senior leadership on more acute issues.

The larger challenge for firms is around setting the right processes (eg: setting time for discovery vs. delivery, designing handoffs, etc.), defining the right metrics around success & designing the right org structures (reporting, KRAs, incentives & team structures). Without these, skilling would be only a temporary fix.

If you’re designing or running a product organization, please consider a systemic view of your org & processes you adopt. Their impact is hidden but critical.