The Year of the Horse, from Jan­u­ary 31, 2014 to Feb­ru­ary 18, 2015 on the Chi­nese cal­en­dar, may also be an excep­tional year for the Tiger. I’m not talk­ing zodiac here, but Tiger 21, an entirely dif­fer­ent animal.

Tiger 21, The Invest­ment Group for Enhanced Results in the 21st Cen­tury, is a group of peo­ple that get together to have a dis­crete, in-depth peek at each other’s invest­ment port­fo­lios. They gather and engage in order to get a real­ity check from peers on how their invest­ment strat­egy aligns with their goals. There is no ego boost­ing, no judg­ing, no scoff­ing. It is an exer­cise designed to help mem­bers pre­serve wealth and achieve goals through height­ened global intel­li­gence and shared invest­ment knowledge.

What does that have to do with mar­ket­ing and prod­uct man­age­ment? Well, I am assum­ing you’d also like to pre­serve your company’s wealth while achiev­ing its goals. To ensure that your com­pany is get­ting the best col­lec­tive effort from each and every man­ager, fol­low­ing Tiger 21’s silo-busting, exec­u­tive engage­ment, non­com­pet­i­tive lead might just form an alle­giance that strength­ens the entire team.

The Tiger 21 groups gather once each month for a four or five item agenda. One mem­ber presents their invest­ment “port­fo­lio defense” at each meet­ing for review and cri­tique by other mem­bers. The one hour chal­lenge is split between the pre­sen­ta­tion and a Q & A wor­thy of a dis­ser­ta­tion defense to clar­ify the member’s invest­ment goals. Do they want to leave an impor­tant legacy? Would they pre­fer to dis­trib­ute their wealth to char­ity? Or would they sim­ply like to ensure they enjoy it to the fullest and spend it all?

Again, no judg­ing. Sim­ply a crit­i­cal analy­sis that dis­cusses whether their plan will achieve their goals. There are rules regard­ing strict con­fi­den­tial­ity, as well as pro­ce­dural demands that every­one show up on time and that phones be off in the meet­ings. There is also a pro­vi­sion dis­cussing deals between mem­bers, which while dis­cour­aged, is allowed but must be made known to the entire group.

One inter­est­ing note here is that mem­bers are part of an elite net­work of 225 par­tic­i­pants in 18 groups with col­lec­tive, investable assets of about $21 bil­lion. How, then, does this tie back to your respon­si­bil­i­ties as a mar­keter or prod­uct man­ager? For one, $21 bil­lion mir­rors the assets of a pretty size­able com­pany. Addi­tion­ally, con­sider the progress that could be made in your orga­ni­za­tion if man­agers could get together in a con­fi­den­tial, non­com­pet­i­tive envi­ron­ment to seek the col­lec­tive knowl­edge and intel­li­gence of your company’s best and bright­est managers.

Think of a mar­ket­ing plan or prod­uct man­age­ment defense, pre­sented to your elite com­pany group for the pur­pose of dis­sect­ing and assess­ing your plan. How well does your project achieve your goals? The responses come packed with intel­li­gent feed­back, fol­lowed by rec­om­men­da­tions and sug­ges­tions. Think, also, of the trust and unity that intrin­si­cally devel­ops by shar­ing trea­sured plans, great­est fears, and strongest insights. There are a few other ele­ments of the Tiger 21 monthly meet­ings that trans­late well to the world of mar­ket­ing and prod­uct management:

  • The World Update invites mem­bers to briefly share what they know with regard to indus­try, loca­tion, or events, pro­vid­ing help­ful infor­ma­tion to other members.
  • The Issues and Oppor­tu­ni­ties seg­ment puts ques­tions and con­cerns up for a round­table dis­cus­sion and feedback.
  • Guest speak­ers address com­mon prob­lems and sit­u­a­tions from an expert van­tage point.

My team and I at Adobe are putting this into prac­tice, cre­at­ing an inter­nal advi­sory board that will share insights and receive feed­back from the best and the bright­est man­agers across Adobe’s spec­trum of dis­ci­plines. The intent is to vet pro­posed prod­ucts and improve­ments, before they hit the mar­ket, with a more con­nected cor­po­rate lifestyle.

Tiger 21 is an impres­sive group, to be sure. They’ve accom­plished much for their mem­ber­ship with regard to wealth and strat­egy, and whether or not you embrace the details of these high net worth group meet­ings, this post should serve as a reminder that no man(ager) is an island. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and crit­i­cal review among your peers can prove quite help­ful. It may be the Year of the Horse, but it may also be the Cen­tury of the Tiger.