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Who Owns the Boxes?

Every company I have been at has had a different structure to their Product Management (PM) and Marketing departments.  Sometimes PM is part of Engineering.  Sometimes PM is part of Marketing.  Sometimes it is a stand alone.  No matter what structure, you need to figure who owns what between PM and Marketing.  There should be no confusion.  This does not mean that there is no collaboration between the 2 teams, but you can only have one owner for items such as: Buyer Personas, Pricing, Competitive Landscape, Thought Leadership, Launch Plan and Channel Training.


There is a well known framework by Pragmatic Marketing located at http://pragmaticmarketing.com/about-us/framework

If the product management team and the marketing team are not using some other framework I suggest that the following exercise is done:

  1. Grab the framework from the Pragmatic Marketing site and the descriptions for all the boxes and send it to each member of the PM and Marketing teams.  Ask them to answer for each box – who owns this box now, and in a perfect world at your organization, who should own it.  Give them a week to reply back with their thoughts.  There is no right or wrong answer.
  2. A manager in Marketing should review the answers from the Marketing team members and gather the results.  A manager in PM should do the same.
  3. If there is disagreement on the owners, I think that this is a perfect opportunity to have a Marketing team meeting to discuss.  Hopefully it is only a few boxes.  The goal is to come up with the Marketing suggested box owners – now and in the future.  If the team has questions regarding the boxes that need to be discussed with PM then these should be documented for  a later meeting.  Some of this Marketing team meeting will be educational for team members as they might not have understood the objective of each box.  Make sure that everyone on the team is on the same page regarding the box description.  Also document what is the collaboration with PM that is necessary for each box, if any.
  4. PM should hold a similar meeting among the PM team members and discuss any disagreements regarding box owners.  Also document what is the collaboration with Marketing that is necessary for each box, if any.
  5. Once the 2 teams have come up with their master box owner sheet, the 2 managers should meet and compare.
  6. If both teams agree on the box current owner and future owner for a box, there is no further discussion necessary, so done deal.
  7. If the 2 teams disagree on the current owner or a future owner for a box, then this should be documented for a future meeting between the 2 teams.
  8. During the meeting between both teams, the disagreed boxes should be discussed.  Some negotiating and compromise will probably be necessary.  But the goal is to decide what team owns the box.  And if one box owns it now and the ownership is going to be passed to the other team, make sure that the transition items necessary to do this are documented and that an estimated completion date is decided.  Hopefully this meeting will allow some bonding between the teams and educate the meeting attendees on what the other department does.  Also discussed during the meeting is how the 2 teams can collaborate on the topics mentioned in each box.
  9. After the meeting is over, one of the managers needs to create the master framework sheet with the owners for each box identified.  This sheet should be sent to the team members of both teams and to the Executive team of the company.  Feedback on this sheet is welcomed from anyone.  The box owners can change over time depending on the feedback received.
  10. Suggest that after 6 months, the 2 teams should review the progress of the Pragmatic Marketing framework ownership project and adjustment be made.

Employees want clarity and clear direction.  This exercise will assist with that.  A company wants its employees to be efficient.  When a team knows what it is responsible for, it can execute on its tasks efficiently and complete them.  Marketing and PM teams need to work efficiently together and this exercise will assist with that.  If another framework is used, feel free to try something similar to the above with that framework.  Let me know how your exercise goes and if it was beneficial or not.

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