I had a beer with Jason Scherschligt the other night and we were talking about the leadership profiles of successful product managers. It was a great talk, and he shared a verbal framework for describing the attitude and aptitudes he’s seeing: Pioneer, Settlers, and Town Managers.
I had never heard that framework before, but it created instant understanding – at a general level – of the differences he was talking about. And, while it’s probably well understood in the product leadership community, it was new to me and I was excited about how the way that model created questions, and understanding.
Moreover, I could see how it would be a versatile teaching/coaching tool to use with leaders to help them understand when and how to work differently. It’s an abstraction that could be used to provide pretty actionable feedback (i.e. “You’re acting like a ‘town manager’ right now, but the team needs a little more ‘pioneer’; here are a couple methods for …”).
A couple other takes on this model:
- A Structure for Continuous Innovation: Pioneers, Settlers, Town Planners
- A mashup of Blue Ocean and Pioneer, Settler, Manager
- First Round Review: The Power of The Elastic Product Team
Is this terminology a metaphor? Is it a mental model? I don’t really know or care, but i love these constructions and admire the creativity and imagination that sparked them. A couple other similiar constructions that have been really useful to me: