One important thing when creating a customer-oriented organization or even a product organisation is facilitating an understanding of how to make product decisions for everyone in the company.
The Product Managers should explain how they arrived at a decision when they communicate with the development teams what feature to create.
This communication should include at least:
- What is the data used to decide?
- How was the data acquired?
- Who is the target group that is mainly using the new feature?
- What were assumptions about the target group made while deciding what features should be done?
- What were the features they said NO, and what trade-offs were made when choosing what to do and what not to do?
I would add to this list one more:
“What data/information/logic would you need to make you change your mind?”
This approach is a data-driven one, and it is the one that facilitates the best cooperation in the organization.
It could also be that a Product Manager takes a decision based on a vision of the future, based on a “feeling” of the future, not only based on data. In this case, communicate what the vision of the future is and what makes it probable.
I know that some Product Managers are maybe afraid to talk with their teams about why they decided to say yes to a feature. They might be afraid that the team will not embrace the feature or, worse, debate the decision, which might seem like a time lost.
Hiding these things will either:
(a) Make the team more dependable on the Product Manager, and every time they have a lack of understanding, they will stop and ask guidance, creating a delayed delivery.
(b) Support a mindset of no questions asked, which then creates a culture with low creativity and innovation as the development teams are far away from the end-user and their needs. So they cannot generate useful ideas for the business.
One cannot be a customer-oriented organization if only a few people understand the customers. I think it is very important for Product Managers to present a narrative from the point of view of the customer for each product decision.