Product managers—particularly more senior product executives—often comment that among the most difficult challenges they face is their unusual position between multiple stakeholders within and outside their organizations. Development, sales, the C-suite and board, and customers all have demands on PMs’ time, but PMs typically have little formal authority over them. Yet we know from experience that the formal structure of an organisation provides incomplete tools for accomplishing goals and is rarely effective or sufficient for influencing others or getting buy-in for new ideas or initiatives. More valuable and efficient are the webs of informal relationships that continuously emerge and develop among organisational members. These are the often hidden but more effective channels through which things get done in organisations.
In this brief session, we will consider these informal webs of relationships and their characteristics with the goal of understanding of the different structures, functions, benefits, and potential dangers of networks.