Skilled Product Leaders Can Manage Business Disruptions

product leaders manage business disruptionsA constant in business today is the speed and scope of change.

Businesses encounter disruption more frequently than ever. In some cases, disruption can be attributed to innovation. But disruption also arises from specific external forces: market-defining technology changes, regulatory changes, new competitors with different business models and more. And companies realize that facing disruption is no longer the exception. It’s the rule. All industries have been or will be affected, and many once-grand companies (e.g., Blockbuster, Kodak, Sears, etc.) have been casualties in a relatively short period.

Why hire a product leader to manage business disruption?

Addressing disruption threats by forming new business units and/or placing a chief product officer (CPO) in charge of offerings has become a typical response. The new leader is expected to deliver quick results to both stop the bleeding and mitigate the risk that the business will be faced with a comparable disruption in the future.

But a strategy adjustment is also required. A leader of a new product, when facing business adversity, must move quickly to build trust by listening to stakeholders, defining a reality-based roadmap for success, seeking victories of any size, and communicating progress. There are a few key issues to consider when taking on this role:

  1. Setting expectations
  2. Building trust
  3. Being aware of skepticism
  4. Communicating effectively
  5. Setting the pace of change

As we know, challenges present opportunities. Product leaders need to manage business disruptions acting as problem-solvers who also anticipate future problems and solutions. The leader of a new product or business unit – often hired in the throes of disruption – directs the company’s ability to withstand the conflict and positions the organization for future success. Forward-thinking businesses see the inevitability of disruption and embrace the challenge, orienting their company as the disruptor, rather than one to be disrupted. With the right approach and solid product leadership training, you and your company can tame, defeat or control business disruption.