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You Hired The Wrong Guy. That Sucks.

January 5th, 2010

Hiring a new person for the team is extremely difficult when the others on the team don’t really understand what their roles are. Complicating things is that if you do interview people who have solid traditional Product Management experience, they aren’t really excited about the idea of managing a POS vendor for a living.

I seemed to be the only one that saw the vision of how it worked. No matter how many times I explained it, drew it on a white-board or in a slide, the people that were already in the organization could never get their head around the role.

What does the Product Manager do and what does the Project Manager do? In many organizations, the Project Manager is the “top dog” when it comes to project teams and, in my new world, the Product Manager was. “The Product Manager owns the widget. The Project Manager helps them build the widget.” My thinking was that the Product Manager owns the entire lifecycle of a system, where the Project Manager only really built the project or enhancement. The Project Managers didn’t like someone taking their perceived power away, the Product Managers were lost and tired of fighting with the Project Mangers. It just fell apart.

I still strongly believed that these activities are the right ones for success, and that it was the implementation that was flawed. So I reviewed the above again, trying to see if there were other roles that perform similar tasks. What I found was that there is another role with very similar qualifications: Consultant.

• Skills around negotiation, communication and working through office politics, check.
• The ability to gather requirements and build systems with Project Managers, check.
• Dealing with frustrated customers (franchisees), check.
• Good at working with outside companies because he/she was used to working for outside companies.
My personal background is in consulting and I know that it has played a large part in my success in franchise IT organizations, but, for some reason, I had overlooked it.
The goal is to find a consultant that is tired of the travel, tired of bouncing around between different organizations and “wants to settle down.” It is also helpful if they believe that with this settling-down phase comes a reduction in pay, as many consultants are making much a higher income than what your position might pay.

My advice is to outline specifically what you want the role to do, but “play with” the qualitative description. Don’t call it a Product Manager, or a Business Analyst. Try calling it an “IT Consultant.” Have your staffing people look at resumes from consultants specifically. Have them focus on resumes where people have been consulting for a long time, or appear to have been unemployed (as a consultant) for a while. Either of these may indicate someone who is looking for a change.

What do you think? Love it or hate it, I’d love to gain some additional perspectives. Leave a comment, or E-mail me at


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