“Taking the time to build peacetime relationships with all the people in the organization really helps.”
From Raghava Gopal’s vantage point, product leadership is a complex endeavor, with the challenges each company faces varying by industry. “For example, we’re a semiconductor company. Our design cycle is more than a year, and we serve a diverse set of customers. In that situation, maybe product launches take place once a year, once every two years, or once every three years. For some customers with long design cycles, you have the luxury of time to do your due- diligence and detailed market research. You have ample time to get customer feedback, develop tools, and then launch the product,” he says. “But, if you’re an internet software company or a consumer electronics company, you don’t have that luxury. You launch products every six months, so you have to be scrappier and more agile. You cannot wait to get comprehensive information before you make a decision. Rather, you have to rely on existing information you have, the wisdom of experience, and your gut feelings,” he says.
No matter what their situation, product leaders must collaborate effectively to launch their products successfully. The quality of that collaboration depends on the quality of their working relationships with the rest of the business. “To people just starting out, I would say that the most important thing is cross-collaboration. In these increasingly complicated product and company structures, it’s not possible to do things on your own. You have to develop strong relationships with all the company departments. If you’re working in sales, for example, it’s important to make friends not just with other salespeople. You also need to know people in marketing, production, and research and development. Taking the time to build peacetime relationships with all the people in the organization really helps,” he says.