If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times as profitable stated CEO Lew Platt.
Companies where knowledge exists in discreet islands (business units or departments) seldom benefit from the synergy of everyone knowing what everyone else is up to and even more important sharing of experiences with one another.
I worked for a company several years ago that had half a dozen R&D labs located around the south of England. Each lab was pretty much a business unit in its own right. Product Managers were located with the R&D teams. This meant they we were close to where the products were being designed and had the opportunity to monitor progress and get close to the technology. The company then took the decision to move all Product Mangers to a central location – this was aimed to help us all share cross product knowledge. Then it moved us back with the R&D teams and finally, just before I left it centralised us again. The point is where Product Managers should sit as to best facilitate knowledge sharing.
My current company, up until recently, had all the Product Managers sitting at one end of the office and the development teams sitting in their product groups occupying the rest of the office. A few months ago we had a total reshuffle, principally due to the fast pace of growth resulting in the number of people joining the technology department.
Now the Product Manager teams sit among their development and test teams. This has improved knowledge sharing and has promise of improving productivity. It will also aid in the new agile scrum methodology that we are adopting.
The implementation of scrum (an agile development method) also promises to improve knowledge sharing as product owners meet for sprint planning and sprint review meetings. The daily 10 to 15 minutes sprint meetings also means that fresh snippets of market knowledge will be periodically and informally fed directly to the development teams. This can only aid in ‘the team’ gaining a better understanding of the markets.
Knowledge sharing is important for the profitability, success and ongoing growth of products.
I will report more on scrum and the knowledge sharing benefits as time goes on.
- Do you have any experience in scrum fostering knowledge sharing that has resulted in improved products or features?
- Where do Product Managers sit in your organisation – among the developers or some where else?
Please feel free to post a comment or two.
See: sharing knowledge for more information regarding the benefits or knowledge management and product management.