Frank, thank you for joining me today.
Let’s begin by discussing the topic of project management leadership – a subject near and dear to your heart. How would you characterize the ideal leadership qualities of a project manager? And have you ever met anyone that had all of these characteristics?
(Frank Saladis) Ideal leader? Interesting question. I have learned that leadership is defined in many ways and there may not be a universal definition of the ideal leader. For me the best, most effective leaders have a few main qualities – integrity, willingness to listen to new ideas, admitting that they don’t have all the answers, and enabling people to succeed.
I have met many leaders in my career and have learned a lot from them. Many of them have the qualities I mentioned but most, as truly effective and savvy leaders know, leader mastery is difficult to attain and that self improvement is a continuous journey. Adapting to the changing business environment is essential and all leaders can find ways to improve.
Are project managers the only leaders on a product development project? Or do you see other functional partners also assuming collaborative leadership roles?
(Frank Saladis) It’s my understanding that anyone who’s creating value is a leader. A project manager may be the leader of the team but team members often assume leadership roles to achieve objectives and overcome obstacles. Product management requires the input and the innovation and creativity of the team. Functional partners usually provide technical expertise and apply their lessons learned and experience to bring a product to market. The project manager is a coordinator and an integrator and is basically a hybrid manager / leader. The manager side focuses on getting things done and the leader side focuses on developing the team. The leader side of the project manager also sees the leadership potential of team members and the abilities of the functional partners and looks for ways to collaborate in the leadership of the project.
It seems like each functional role has its own span of responsibility on a product development team, so what principle connects the various roles? Is VALUE one of the connection points?
(Frank Saladis) Value is the main element that connects the entire team. The issue here is to define what value is and what it means to each team member. Value goes beyond the financial meaning. Project managers were once taught that project success was based in the Triple Constraint – Time, Cost, and Scope. To achieve project success meant to complete on time within budget and according to specifications (scope).
Today, we refer to many more competing demands – quality, safety, aesthetics, timeliness, cost, availability, social acceptance, and reliability. It’s important to define value from the customer’s perspective and the producer’s perspective. A commonly understood definition of value will create the foundation for connecting the various roles.
Frank, how do you think the ProdBOK will help synchronize project and product managers?
(Frank Saladis) I think project managers and product managers are synchronized to some degree. The ProdBOK will enhance the understanding of roles from both perspectives. It was necessary to create the ProdBOK for a number of reasons. From a project manager’s viewpoint, it’ll help clarify the roles, integrate the terminology, and further unify the objectives of the project manager and product manager.
I believe many of the responsibilities of the product manager and product managers overlap. The differences or areas where there may be some disconnect is associated with methodology, sense of urgency, and the importance of milestones. Connecting the roles by providing explanations and guidelines in the ProdBOK about each specialty (project and product manager) should pave the way for improved communication and smoother delivery of products.
Why did you choose to participate in the development of the ProdBOK?
(Frank Saladis) When the opportunity was presented it seemed to be a great way to contribute to both professional disciplines. It also gave me a chance to explain the value of project management to a new audience. I thought it might be a significant challenge and to be very candid, I liked the idea of being a part of something that would connect me with the world outside the project management domain.
It helped improve my awareness of the product management process and the role of the product manager. It was a great learning experience, and I was both excited and honored to be selected to take part in the development of the ProdBOK.
You can learn more about Frank by clicking here.
Greg Geracie is a recognized thought leader in the field of product management and the President of Actuation Consulting, a global provider of product management consulting, training, and advisory services to some of the world’s most well-known organizations. Greg is also the author of the global best seller Take Charge Product Management. He is also an adjunct professor at DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on high-tech and digital product management.