Resolving a Conflict
28 May, 2021
The background is that two companies merged into one, and as a consequence we had two competing products under one umbrella. As the Product Manager, I was managing one product, and another PM was taking care of the other product. These products were meant to solve for a compliance regulation. His position was that the product I was managing was not compliant, and that we cannot sell it to customers. This was the start of the conflict and the beginning of our problems.
Getting into the actions aspect of it, what I did first was read the compliance guidelines. I cannot say that I found it interesting, but that was something I had to do.
The next thing for me was competitors. It was essential for me to find out how our competitors were positioning their products and the different technologies used to solve the compliance problem. I conducted the research, both internally and externally. I talked to my sales engineers, marketing counterparts, our research team as well as customers to figure out the lay of the land. Furthermore, it helped us identify potential opportunities where we could out-perform them.
And, the final part of the action was to create a recommendation summary, and to present this data to all the stakeholders. It was not just to point out how one product is better than the other, but to make concrete recommendations on use cases where each of the 2 products would be preferable. This convinced the other product manager and helped our GTM team navigate how we are going to position our products.
- I learned that no one is ever wrong; everyone is just different. For instance, the other PM was correct based on an earlier version of the compliance regulation. You need to dig deeper to find out where your colleagues are coming from instead of just jumping to conclusions.
- It would help if you appeared as an authority on a subject that you represent. For instance, in my recommendation, I had quotes from the compliance guidelines, which proved that I knew what I was talking about.
- It is always a good idea to talk to your teammates privately before you are presenting publicly. I had individual conversations before I presented to the broader team. During the presentation, these individuals then backed me up.
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This was not a high point in my career. It's a story of single metric bias, how I let one measure become a 'source of truth', failed to manage up and ended up yelling at one of the most respected engineers in my team.
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