In this episode, I recap two learning I had from Melissa Perri's appearance on the Dragonboat CPO Series webinar that are directly related to the essence of what a great rebel intrapreneur is. Without knowing it, Melissa Perri answered questions in the webinar giving career advice that is perfect for how we define this new category of employee, the rebel intrapreneur.
The first question from the audience was:
How do I acquire the skills necessary to become a chief product officer before I get the job?
To appreciate Melissa's answer, let's just recap the definition of a rebel intrapreneur:
"...an employee who takes initiative to further the purpose of the organization by simultaneously challenging and working within the system."
Melissa's answer was practical. Start doing the work of that job without having the job. Take initiative and just starting doing it. Don't ask for permission. She told a story of someone who attended her CPO Accelerator program who wanted to prepare her self to become a CPO. This person simply started creating strategy plans on her own and shared them with the team. She just started. It didn't matter whether the strategies would be approved and implemented. What mattered was the act of creating the strategy, sharing it with the team, hearing feedback, thinking through the strategy again, making updates.
This person starting building the skill of product strategy design by designing product strategies. She just acted.
Melissa Perri offered this valuable advice, "When you are the CPO, the calvary is not coming. It's up to you to make the product strategy happen. No one is coming to save you. You have to save you. You have to create the strategy and make it happen."
The second question that Melissa answered in the CPO Series webinar was:
How to work with a founder as a CPO?
Melissa's advice was kind of a warning...remember that the founder has been thinking about this problem 24 hours a day for a long time. The company is the founder's baby. It's not going to land well if you come in to a company, reporting to the founder and say, 'Hire smart people and let them do their job. Now that I'm here, an expert in a function you need (product, in this case), which is why you hired me, I got this. I'll take it from here.'
Not so much.
What you should say to a founder in this case, explains Melissa is, "Help me, help you."
A rebel intrapreneur first looks to further the mission of the company, then challenges the process from within. Said another way: Seeks first to understand, then to be understood.
You have to gain trust of the founder first.
The essence of a rebel intrapreneur: Mission first. Challenge second.
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