Successful product management isn’t just about training the product managers who work side by side with developers everyday to build better products. It’s about taking a step back, approaching the systems within organizations as a whole, and leveling up product leadership to improve these systems. This is the Product Thinking Podcast, where Melissa Perri will connect with industry leading experts in the product management space, AND answer your most pressing questions about everything product. Join us each week to level up your skillset and invest in yourself as a product leader.
Episode 122: Mastering the Art of Product-Led Growth: Effective Strategies for a Self-Selling Product
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44:51In this episode of Product Thinking, Melissa Perri talks with Wes Bush, CEO of ProductLed. They explore the art of product-led growth and share effective strategies for building a product that sells itself. Wes Bush is the renowned author of "Product-Led Growth: How To Build a Product That Sells Itself." He asserts that, over the past several years, the way we buy software has undergone a transformative shift. Businesses must lead with their product and allow potential customers to experience its value firsthand. Product-Led Growth provides the framework for businesses to adapt to this new era of customer-driven decision-making. It's not just a trend or buzzword but an actionable business strategy that enables companies to succeed in this new business landscape. With Wes Bush's guidance and expertise, businesses can learn to build products that sell themselves and position themselves for long-term success.
Episode 121: Answering Questions About How to Deal with Development Teams and Leaders and Balance Product Strategy, Bug Fixes, and Minor Improvements
15:19In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about dealing with technology teams and leaders and how to balance the team's effort between the things that are the focus of your current product strategy, bug fixing, and minor improvements.
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Episode 120: Navigating Product Transformations and Developing High-Performance Product Teams: a Blueprint for Success in Large Organizations
45:22In this episode of Product Thinking, Melissa Perri talks with Deba Sahoo, SVP and Head of Product at Fidelity Investments. They discuss all product transformations and how to develop a high-performance product team in large organizations. Deba is an accomplished Chief Product Officer and product management executive with extensive experience in the Financial Services and FinTech industry. He is a passionate advocate, thought leader, and sought-after speaker on product leadership, digital transformation, and product management. Deba's dedication and innovation in product leadership have earned him global recognition. Recently, he was recognized among the Top 20 most influential and innovative CPOs worldwide by Products that Count, the largest network of product managers in the world.
Episode 119: Answering Questions About Scaling Product Teams When You Are the Leader, How R&D Helps the Product Team, and How to Effectively Transition From a Consultancy Into a Product Company
15:22In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about how to stay on top of what is going on in a scaling team when you are the product leader, how R&D differs from product management, as well as how you can transition from a consultancy into a product company.
Episode 118: From Zero to Angel: How to Get Started in Angel Investing and Spot the Next Unicorn
44:00In this episode of Product Thinking, Melissa Perri talks with Brian Nichols, Angel Squad Co-Founder of Hustle Fund. They dive into the world of angel investing, discussing the most effective strategies to invest and what to look for in assessing an early-stage startup. Brian has an impressive track record of entrepreneurship and corporate leadership. Upon earning his master's degree from USC, he launched two successful ventures, Date Simply and RewardTag.com. He then joined Lyft in 2014, where he spearheaded the growth of the California Markets, which accounted for a staggering fifty percent of all Lyft rides at the time. During his tenure at Lyft, he played a key role in scaling the company's local teams nationwide, contributing to the expansion of Lyft's employee count from 250 to 2,500. Brian continued his professional journey by founding the Lyft Alumni Angel Syndicate, a network that comprises numerous early Lyft employees. Before joining Hustle Fund, Brian held positions at esteemed companies such as On Deck, BlackBird, and Zoox, where he undoubtedly contributed his expertise and skills to further their success.
Episode 117: Answering Questions About Successful Career Changes and Managing People Efficiently
18:58In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about how to choose the best product career path, escape your career trap, and why a product manager can become a senior faster in a startup.
Episode 116: Beyond the Basics: Non-Traditional Approaches to Product Management and Leadership with Yasi Baiani
40:44In this episode of Product Thinking, Melissa Perri talks with Yasi Baiani, Senior Vice President of Product and Marketing at Cleo. They explore product management in some non-traditional senses, as well as how to set up a winning structure for your product teams and what good product leadership looks like. Yasi Baiani is a highly accomplished executive in product and strategy, startup advising, and investing, boasting a proven track record of delivering state-of-the-art products that are widely adopted by millions of people and defining new categories and markets. Under her expert leadership and strategic guidance, Cleo successfully launched two new product lines, Teens and Eldercare, which unlocked a market opportunity worth over $270 billion. In addition to her role at Cleo, Yasi is a Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Raya Capital, where she advises founders and CEOs on business and product strategy and invests in technology and health tech companies. Furthermore, Yasi is an investor through FlyBridge HBS Alumni Fund and a Global Leadership Advisor at How Women Lead. Her impressive achievements have earned her recognition as one of The 27 Most Impressive Harvard MBAs by Business Insider, and she has been acknowledged three times as a LinkedIn Top Voice in technology and digital health.
Answering Questions About Navigating the B2C to SaaS Transition, the Cultural Change Challenge, and Comforting People With Product and Legacy Business
15:26In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about moving from B2C to SaaS companies and how we can do it effectively, getting people comfortable with product and legacy businesses, and understanding the right time to move on to another company and stop fighting the cultural change. Q&A: Q: I've been in the product space for about eight years in Cape Town, South Africa. The opportunities for SaaS companies here are super limited, and I've only ever worked on B2C products. We are now moving to Europe, where there is a plethora of SaaS companies, and I'd really love to get into that space. My question is, how can I get into that space without experience? Do you have any advice for SaaS product management-specific courses I could highlight on my LinkedIn or CV to convince potential employers I can adapt? A: The thing about SaaS and B2C product management is that our fundamentals are pretty much the same, but we use different techniques. For example, if you are in B2C, you will be doing lots of AB testing. In B2B, we're gonna do things that mitigate risk by doing beta testing or getting small groups of customer advisory boards together. So I want you to concentrate on the fundamentals of product management. Let that shine through in your resume and in your LinkedIn. Q: I'm a product manager at a financial institution that is introducing products to the organization. My question has to do with incorporating the product into a legacy business that is used to making decisions based on a need to put out fires rather than being strategic in decisions. How do I bring the executive level along to start crafting product strategies and still show that the department heads are ultimately making the decisions on what to move forward with? I'm starting to see some folks worry about losing their control over the area, which could lead them to miss targets, but that isn't what the product aims to do. Seems to be a lot of sentiment toward not wanting to do the work, to think through a problem, and instead move forward with what they think is most important on an individual level. A: Here's a situation for legacy businesses that we have to take into account. A lot of people who've been working there have been doing so for a very long time, and they may actually have things that they know to be true that could be proven by fact. Sometimes when we jump straight into product processes and start talking to people about, "Hey, we need to put the strategy together" or "We need to experiment. Hey, can we get together to figure this out?" They respond with, "But I already know. So why do you need me to figure it out? Just do what I'm telling you to do." So, one technique that I found works well is to get everybody together and start listing out your assumptions. You do want to start from the perspective of how we make sure that these GMs or the people in charge of these businesses understand that by working with product, they're actually going to get more results, more money. Q: I recently left a mid-size company where I had great product leaders because, after the company was acquired, I was no longer passionate about the mission. I didn't think I'd be able to move from a PM role to a Director of Product position without a stop at another company on my resume. I joined an internal product team at a company where I'm very passionate about the mission. The team is only two years old and took over the technology solutions from an IT leader. I took a PM role because of the mission and the opportunity to help shape an organization, which I thought would help me hone my skills for a future Director role. Now, what I'm finding is that the leaders of the product team say that they want to move towards being a product-led company but rarely take the steps to get there, and we're always too busy to. I knew that it wouldn't be easy, and I'm trying to do things like bring in product analytics tools to help drive more data-informed cultures, set up monthly forums for discussions around products, and best practices for the team to discuss how we can get better, and create interview guides that help ensure we're hiring the right type of product people. Well, you've talked about how hard this type of work is, and I understand that this type of cultural shift takes time. At what point should I start thinking about whether I've done enough to gain the skills I need to move into product leadership at another company where I can start fresh without having to convince my own team, let alone others? A: Cultural shifts take a long time, but they can set you up nicely to gain some of the skills you need as a Director of Product. But for you to think about whether it is the right time to leave, you have to consider the Director of Product skills. So, ask yourself, can I steer a team toward a larger product vision and have them execute towards that? Can I handle crafting more complicated product strategies and oversee a much larger scope? Can I effectively coach them to be great product managers? Can I set up the infrastructure that they need to succeed? Can I manage up to executives and other people in the organization and communicate my points clearly and confidently so that they have faith in me? That's the last skill that you're really working on here during that cultural change. So, if you do want to stay, here's what I would advise to try and open up the conversation a little bit more and see what could happen.
Episode 114: Designing for Impact: How User Research Can Transform Government Services with Dana Chisnell
41:47Have you ever wondered what it's like to work in product management and UX design in the government? Dana Chisnell, the Acting Executive Director for Customer Experience at Homeland Security, tells Melissa Perri what it’s like in this episode of Product Thinking. Dana shares her journey from being an independent consultant to ultimately joining Homeland Security. She describes the challenges of implementing human-centered design in a massive government organization, and the importance of proactive user research to inform service design. Listen in to learn how Dana and her team are working to improve customer experiences for the public in their interactions with DHS agencies, from TSA to FEMA. Dana Chisnell is the Acting Executive Director for Customer Experience at Homeland Security. She has over two decades of experience in UX design and research, and has worked with both private companies and government agencies. Dana is the co-founder of the Center for Civic Design, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the voting experience for all citizens. She also served on the board of the Usability Professionals' Association and is a frequent speaker at conferences on user experience design, research, and civic technology. You’ll hear Melissa and Dana talk about: Proactive user research is essential to inform service design in the government context, and to improve customer experiences for the public. Implementing human-centered design in a massive government organization like DHS requires a shift in mindset from focusing on reactive customer service to proactively understanding the needs of customers and reaching the most vulnerable. Product management and user experience design are relatively new concepts to the federal government, and there is a need to expand the pool of practitioners and build design and research ops. DHS has committed to improving customer experiences across its agencies, including FEMA, TSA, USCIS, and CBP. Dana’s team at Homeland Security is working on building and scaling design and research ops, and expanding the pool of practitioners, while also supporting the commitments made by DHS agencies under President Biden's executive order. Different government agencies have varying levels of CX and UX maturity. The government is focused on impact and improving people's lives rather than maximizing revenue, which changes the incentives for product decisions. The process of product management and user experience design is similar in the private and public sectors, but outcomes are measured differently in the government. The political climate in the Executive Office and Congress can affect the potential outcomes for the public. The challenge in government is getting stakeholders to think about outcomes rather than outputs. Demonstrating the impact that a program will have on people helps get stakeholders to shift their mindset towards outcomes. Problem focus is still applicable in government product management, just like in the private sector. When working for the government, it's important to take into account the whole population, not just a perfect persona that a private company may prioritize. Dana advises starting by working with the most vulnerable people first, such as those who have been historically marginalized, to understand their situation before moving on to other groups of personas. The power dynamic when doing user research with vulnerable people is sensitive, and it's important to not make people more vulnerable and afraid by doing the research and design work. Third parties such as vendors or nonprofits may be trained to do the work instead. Everyone on a team should do research, regardless of their role, to gain exposure to users and customers. The government measures user experience by the level of burden experienced when filling out a form. There are incentives for lowering that burden, and basic usability testing with the intended audience can help achieve this. Resources: Dana Chisnell on Website | LinkedIn | Twitter CX at Homeland Security
Answering Questions About SAFe 6.0, Improving Alignment Between Project Managers, and Implementing OKRs Successfully
20:54In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about changes and new features in SAFe 6.0, how to improve alignment and transparency between project managers on the same team while meeting the needs of the different stakeholders, and what it takes to implement business OKRs successfully. Q&A: Q: I just finished a significant dev project in the FinTech industry. There were about thirty-five product managers in the company. I took a role as a senior product manager, and they made everyone go through SAFe. Their commitment to SAFe was about a ten, and their commitment to outcomes was about a two. So what is the deal with SAFe? Have you seen this improved output in any of your encounters with it? It didn't seem agile or lean to me. A: I have not seen anybody actually succeed in implementing SAFe in a way where we focus more on the outcomes instead of doing the actual process. People turn to SAFe because they want the instruction manual. But the problem with that is they stop thinking for themselves about what is right and wrong and whether we are actually delivering outcomes. And that's my biggest issue with it. But this is a great time to look at SAFe 6.0 and see what's happening here. Q: I'm a product operations manager at a medium size company operating in the field of digital health. The company has been growing fast in the last couple of years, and the number of PMs and projects has also grown, making it more difficult to collaborate and stay. ...To improve alignment between the main people involved in those areas, we decided to form a PM designer's team. The team currently includes five product managers, including senior and junior PMs, and is led by a Head of Product, as well as three designers and senior designers led by a Head of Design. However, we've been struggling to identify how to set up things to become a well-functioning team. ...On the other hand, the team has an urgent need to align on the product roadmap, but we haven't found an effective way of doing that yet. Do you have any recommendations on how to set up this kind of team while meeting the needs of the different stakeholders? What kind of virtuals and processes could help us? A: The main idea behind product operations is one of enablement, not micromanagement. When you think of product operations, cadences and governance are a big part of your role, and it's about getting the right people in the right room so that you can review the things that you need. Now, if you have this new product management and design team, the leaders will want some transparency in the roadmap. But they don't need to know everybody's tiny task. Here’s what I think could help your team. Q: Our tech department is small and in the growth stage, and we have recently implemented business OKRs with key results, but we're not sure what to do next. We don't have the team structure set up correctly. We don't empower the teams. We don't seem to have a product or business strategy for digital products. How would you approach a situation with our product lead and stakeholders? A: If there's no guiding strategy, how did you come up with the OKRs? To me, they're probably going to be a little messy, and they're not gonna be focused on the outcomes we are trying to achieve. People put the OKRs all on the team level and don't roll them up. You should have three levels of OKRs that roll up to the business goals. So that might be a good place to start with your business leads and stakeholders. 658076