How to Improve Collaboration Between Different Stakeholders

Patrick Chen

Product at Facebook, Inc



Different stakeholders have different objectives and goals and oftentimes even conflicting interests. As a product leader, you have to navigate those divergent goals and interests and encourage collaboration among them. For many, the relationship Product maintains with Marketing and Finance is of the utmost importance for a successful realization of the company’s plans. However, Marketing, Finance and Product are considered entirely separate units where everyone does its own thing. I was resolute to change that and improve collaboration and alignment by applying a holistic approach that would help build, execute and overdeliver on our key financial results.

Actions taken

Product and Finance

Finance would traditionally come up with a projection and Product would see if they could meet it. I decided to head it off earlier. At the beginning of a quarter, I would sit with Finance and share my bottom-up projection of where we could go. Then, they would come with their top-down projection and then we would -- since those were not aligned -- discuss how to meet it. We would initiate a series of conversations bringing in other stakeholders who could come up with their own analysis and then together arriving at the more realistic decision.

The main challenge dealing with Finance were huge discrepancies we had to gap. The delta between their top-down and my bottom-up was 20 percent. To bridge that gap, I had to better understand what their thought process was and be very concrete in terms of what we could deliver.

Product and Marketing To reach my goals, I had to work more closely with Marketing than what was traditionally expected -- I had to be more involved, to do AB testing together with them, etc. I wanted every release to be a concerted effort -- the same language should be used by the landing pages, and by performance (SEM/SEO), email, direct marketing - they all needed to not only be in sync in language but timing.

Every two weeks I would sit down with Marketing trying to understand what they were doing, talking about product ideas we were having, brainstorming copy, etc. They helped me better understand what people would click on but we helped them understand why people would go through and complete the application. That allowed us to create a compelling copy that people would click on and convert. Instead of the highest click-through rate we got a solid click-through rate with high conversion. As a result of our collaboration, by the end of the quarter, we had 58 percent growth in revenue.

Lessons learned

  • Establish a routine of check-ins with a cadence that allows for a thorough analysis and regular updates. Keep stakeholders up to date and comprehensively informed.
  • When a problem occurs, figure out how to address it as soon as possible. Create an action plan, have a decider who understands the problem, and who could act on it right away.

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Patrick Chen

Product at Facebook, Inc

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentPerformance MetricsLeadership TrainingPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesCareer Growth

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