Product Management Strategies for Supporting Collaboration by Gretchen Anderson

More and more organisations are switching to agile working, yet few business people have been trained in collaborative skills. Although we like the idea of working together, businesses can stifle collaboration and teamwork through competition and individualism. In this ProductTank San Francisco talk, product designer and author Gretchen Anderson shares her thoughts and experiences of collaboration as she discusses the impact of teamwork on businesses.

It takes different perspectives and different kinds of people for a business to work, but you can’t just shove a group in a room and expect a successful collaboration. Collaboration requires open avenues of communication, from experts to generalists, as well as clear objectives, trust, and storytelling. Effective collaboration fosters new ideas, optimises efficiency, and boosts workplace morale.

Here are Gretchen’s tips to make it happen:

  1. Set Clear Objectives. Gretchen talks about ER doctors during an emergency. The main objective for the doctors is to keep their patients alive and stable. Clear and urgent, this objective provides both direction and focus. In relation to product management, teams could focus on a vision of the future and dedicate time to co-creating it.
  2. Enable Trust. Agile, collaborative working is based upon trust: the trust that members of a team can perform roles to support other roles. Discovering people’s strengths and weaknesses allows businesses to plug any skills gaps while filling teams with confidence.
  3. Tell Stories. People are hardwired for stories, but we are consumers of stories – not storytellers. Employing storytelling skills at work can clarify “how can this project land?”. This is because we can lead people to goals and outcomes more easily if we can fit those outcomes into a narrative or story arc.

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