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The Wild Animal Safari of Product Marketing — Beyond the Classic 4

There’s 101 different articles and explanations on the classic 4 Animals of Product Management and how to tame them; the Hi.P.P.O., Z.E.B.R.A., R.Hi.N.O, and W.O.L.F. They all represent a person or group of people within your organization that have a negative influence on your product roadmap, prioritization process, or working capabilities throughout. However, is there a king of the animal kingdom? Is there a species that can control and counter balance these ‘Dangerous 4’? I give you, the LIONMOOSETIGERPANDABIRD. 🦁🦌🐯🐼🦅

What do these abbreviations mean?

First, you need to understand a little bit of context regarding these four abbreviated dangers of the wild. There are many articles that go in a lot more depth on each of these. I will give you a quick synopsis, so we can continue with the LMTPB.

the four classic animals of product management; hippo, wolf, rhino, zebra
the four classic animals of product management; hippo, wolf, rhino, zebra
Credit: Productboard.com

🦛 HiPPO: Plan of Action (HiPPOPOtA…mus)

There’s two schools of thought here. One is that they are right and should be listened to. The other, most supported one, is to make sure they are rather in support of your ideas instead. I say; combine the two! After all, they are (your direct) managers and you don’t want to get on their bad side. Moreover, they do know about the business and have seen certain things fail. They just simply know about what works through years and years of experience.

🦓 ZEBRA

ZEBRA stands for Zero Evidence But Really Arrogant. Evidently, you should not be a ZEBRA in front of a HiPPO. Being confident in business is good, being cocky (pun not intended) about it is less good. And you can believe that something will or won’t work, but ultimately you need to look at KPIs to confirm your intuition. So bringing nothing tangible to the table but shouting about how great it is, works rather counter productive within an organization.

🦏 Two RHINOs are Worse Than One

RHINO has two meanings, and both are bad. Firstly, let’s go with Really Here In Name Only. It’s also called ‘a lazy ass’ (puns are fun, no?). It brings me back to school, and I’m 100% everyone understand the situation. You are forced to be in a pre-defined group, and there’s just this one character that doesn’t contribute at all but still gets the passing grade.

🐺 WOLF

Working On Latest Fire is not exactly a productive activity; the contrary. It’s not focused, effective nor efficient. But, it happens all too often that someone storms in (HiPPO, anyone?) and has a new top priority to work on (reasons are unclear, of course). What’s also common is that that top priority switches to a new one five times a week.

🦁🦌🐯🐼🦅 So Tell Me About The LMTPB

As you might have expected by now, my experience is mostly in Product Marketing and the Agile / Scrum scenes, so I’ve worked quite a bit with the first two. However, I’ve also worked with their respective counterparts, and aspire to be an opposing alpha myself. Moreover and thankfully, there are actually many workhorses who counter these Dangerous 4. But it’s just because the influence of these four is so big, that they do need to be looked out for. So what kind of creature can counter them?

5 Office workers are like the Power Rangers
5 Office workers are like the Power Rangers
It’s like The Office meets Power Rangers. Credit: Seanprai

Conclusion

As a good Product Manager, Marketer, or any business person for that matter, you need to have the right skills to succeed. And by succeed, I mean drive value for the organization. You need to be innovative to continuously grow. You need to be strategic so you can plan ahead and avoid obstacles.

  • These animals (read: people) shouldn’t be caged (read: held back). Set them free and enjoy the diversity they bring to your organization.

Product Owner, user evangelist, curious mind.