10 Success Patterns for PMs


Here’s a brief set of success patterns I’ve shared with a few colleagues.  These are the patterns I see that make a difference in getting results.

10 Success Patterns



  1. Empathic listening.

  2. Rapport before influence

  3. Character trumps emotion trumps logic

  4. Match their style

  5. Ask WIIFY

  6. Distinguish between responsibility and authority

  7. Turn chickens into pigs

  8. Adapt, adjust, or avoid situations

  9. Know the system.

  10. Analyze it over time.

Success Patterns Explained
Here’s the essence of each:



  • Empathic listening.  Listen until the other person “feels” they’ve been heard.  Once they feel heard, they’re more likely to listen to you.  You can do this 1:1 or in a large meeting.  Covey uses an “Indian Talking Stick.”  The person with the stick talks until they feel heard.  A former Softie told me his team used an eraser as “the mutex.”   See Stephen Covey Speaks at Microsoft.

  • Rapport before influence.  This is true whether it’s a presentation, interview … etc.. For example, go to a comedy club and see how the comedian gets the crowd laughing only  after they have rapport.  See How Might That Be True?

  • Character trumps emotion trumps logic.  If you base all your arguments on logic, but fail to persuade, now you know.  See Win the Heart, the Mind Follows.

  • Match their style.  You don’t have to go overboard, but a little bridge can go along way.  If somebody is visual, could you whiteboard it for them?  If somebody’s detail oriented, can you provide the details?  If somebody needs to hear action, can you turn your ideas into action?

  • Ask WIIFY.  Ask the question What’s In It For You?  If you’re a marketer, this might come natural for you.  If you’re an engineer, this might feel weird.  It’s about shifting the focus from the thing to the person. If nobody shows up to your meetings, tailor the invite to be explicit about what’s in it for the attendees.

  • Distinguish between responsibility and authority.  Know whether you influence a decision or own it.  When you don’t have authority, but you need to get results, leverage the model in Influencing Without Authority.

  • Turn chickens into pigs.  A pig’s committed while a chicken’s involved.  Don’t let a chicken have a controlling vote, without turning them into a pig.  See Turning Chickens into Pigs.

  • Adapt, adjust, or avoid situations.  Learn how to read situations. Some situations you should just avoid.  Some situations you should adapt yourself, as long as you play to your strengths.  Some situations you should adjust the situation to set yourself up for success.

  • Know the system.   Analyze the problem from a system standpoint.  What are the components and subsystems?  What are the inputs and outputs?  Who are the players?   What levers can you pull that make the most impact?  If you don’t know, who does?

  • Analyze it over time.  Look at the problem or solution over time. Build your temporal skills.  The more you play “what ifs” in the future, the easier it gets to anticipate.

Do you have any favorite success patterns to share?

My Related Posts

Comments (7)

  1. Daniel Moth says:

    Program Manager role at Microsoft

  2. Ash says:

    Great list J.D.

    Thanks for sharing this information with us.

    Keep it Up!

  3. fox23 says:

    1.高效PM的七个习惯

    WhatdoesittaketobeaneffectiveProgramManager

  4. At Microsoft, I regularly mentor some fellow softies.   It can be tough to navigate the waters,

  5. Justin says:

    导读今天发现了这篇非常精彩的,内容超级丰富的文章,实在忍不住,转载于此。

    原文地址:http://blogs.msdn.com/jmeier/archive/2008/10/13/effective

  6. I tested Evernote with my time management system, The Zen of Results .  Evernote is like ITunes