Why Product Management Should Champion Customers, Not Company

At most companies – old or new, Fortune-500 or startup – most of the departments are looking out for the company. They’re doing things in the best interests of the company. Even optimizing everything to maximize the self-interests of their company.

Often, even the CEO and executive staff may constantly seek to maximize self-interests of the company. This is rational behavior, often encouraged by compensation models.

I believe PM teams should act differently. Here’s why…

Someone Has to Act in the Best Interests of Customers

While most companies constantly seek to maximize their self-interests, I believe that the very best companies (ones that exhibit a lot of the Built to Last characteristics) act differently. One example is Amazon.com.

At such companies, from the CEO on down, there is a conscious focus on doing things in the best interests of their customers. In a Zen-like way, companies that behave in this fashion ultimately are far more successful than others – i.e. they end up maximizing their self-interest (such as market share or market cap) much better than other companies.

At most companies, since almost every department is trying to maximize the company’s self-interest – no one is championing customers’ best interests.

Product Management and Product Marketing teams should fill this void by always thinking about, championing and fighting for the customers’ best interests. This is not an easy battle to fight (you may even get fired for it!) – but this is one of the biggest values a PM team can add to their company.

Editor’s Note:
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Michael Shrivathsan

I'm your author, Michael Shrivathsan, an expert in product management with successful experience at several innovative companies in Silicon Valley, USA over the past two decades. I'm also a USPTO patent recipient. For my day job, I'm the VP of Product Management at Accompa, we make the popular requirements management software used by Product Management, Business Analysis, and related teams.

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