Guidelines for a New Head of Product

For a new Head of Product, the beginning can be intimidating. There’s so much to know, and so many functionalities within a company to factor in. This can range from the establishment of trust, to discerning the underlying issues that are presently occurring throughout the creation of the product. There are many things that need to be accomplished, but here are some of the most important tasks you could do as a fresh Head of Product, as well as questions that you should give thought to. 

A Head of Product’s first order of business after being assigned should be to get accustomed to the work environment, which includes the teammates, customers, and how the cross-functional communication works within the company. You should begin to fully build empathy and trust amongst your peers. A simple way to accomplish this would be to create a guideline for yourself and show it to your peers. Show what you will accomplish within the company within an X amount of days, and make sure to get all of it done. This will tell your teammates that they can trust you, as you’ve finished all the work that you’d promised. To make a list of what you should focus on, you can conduct one-on-one meetings with everyone, from teammates to customers, and highlight the main concerns that were discussed. 

Another aspect that should be highly regarded when it comes to being a Head of Product is deeply understanding the company’s Product Strategy. A Head of Product should fully grasp what is going to be occurring within the next few months, and understand what issues or plans are being addressed, as well as how the company currently plans on tackling the tasks. There are multiple key questions that should be answered in this aspect:

  • Is the key problem that the company is facing a large-scaled issue that’s worthwhile dealing with, or is there an even larger issue?
  • Is the solution offered by the company the best solution, even compared to the alternatives? Does it fully solve the core problem, and how much more difficult, or time-consuming would it be as compared to the alternatives? 
  • Is the product design the most impactful, and will it keep user retention, or garner user attention? 
  • Are the deadlines realistic for the product to be fully built and ready to be publicly released? Are the deadlines for the team’s tasks reasonable, and can they be done within the time frame?
    • In relation to the deadlines, make sure to address the key risks of a hurried product, and the risks or gaps with the deadline. 
  • How is the product different from the competitors that it can garnish some distinct attention? 

There are many factors to consider when becoming a Head of Product, but when first enrolling as one for a company, these are the primary factors that should be considered. Make sure to establish trust, and to fully understand the product, including the issues currently present, possible future issues, and solutions.

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