For startups or smaller companies, often all it takes is a strong product team with a strong product‐oriented CEO or product manager. But, in larger companies, it usually takes more than that. It takes strong product leadership, in the very best sense of the word, including providing a compelling product vision and strategy.
One of the absolute hardest assignments in our industry is to try to cause dramatic change in a large and financially successful company. It's easier in many ways if the company is in serious trouble, and it is feeling big pain, because that pain can be used to motivate the change.
Of course, great companies want to disrupt themselves before others disrupt them. The difference between Amazon, Netflix, Google, Facebook, and the legions of large but slowly dying companies is usually exactly that: product leadership.
In 2011, Lea Hickman led product for Adobe's Creative Suite. Lea had spent several years at Adobe helping them to build a very large and successful business for itself—on the order of $2 billion in annual license revenue—with its desktop‐based Creative Suite.
But Lea knew the market was changing, and the company needed to move from the old desktop‐centric, annual‐upgrade model, to a subscription‐based model supporting all the devices designers were now using—including ...