Product Thinking podcast

Product Thinking

Melissa Perri

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.

53 episodi

  • Product Thinking podcast

    Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Startup Roadmaps, Buy-In vs. Consensus, and Restructuring at Scale

    24:47

    In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about how roadmaps fit into an early stage company, the difference between gaining buy-in as a leader and reaching team consensus, delineating ownership as a leadership team, and how to restructure teams when your organization starts operating at scale. Q: Do you have any suggestions for creating the product roadmap per quarter in a startup company? [1:10] Q: As a product leader, how do you decide where to draw the line between activities you need to lead versus activities you would be more successful with if you had buy-in from your team? How do you draw lines of responsibility and ownership between VP, product director, product managers, and other supporting team members, when as a product director, your responsibility is to lead the product team, the product managers report to you, and there's overlap with what you and the VP are both currently doing in directing team activities? [6:02] Q: How do we best evaluate which parts of the product we build our teams around? What are some common pitfalls when restructuring a product delivery organization to operate at scale? [16:11] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter MelissaPerri.com
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    Building a Product Ecosystem with Lisa Schneider

    39:49

    Lisa Schneider is the Chief Product Officer at Framework Homeownership. Previously, she was the Chief Digital Officer at Merriam-Webster, where she led digital strategy and execution and redefined the dictionary for the digital age. Lisa joins Melissa Perri on this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast to share her expertise on crafting great vision and mission statements, the role of the product leader, bridging the gap between sales and product, and why being an integrator is powerful.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Lisa talk about:  How Lisa got started in product management. [1:55] Asking yourself ‘Why?’ is part of the product mindset when developing a new vision and mission. Figure out why you want a new vision and mission, then develop a strategy to bridge them together. Lisa advises that you should not mix the strategy into the mission because it makes the mission become too specific instead of universal. She also cautions against aligning product teams and squads to strategy too much because strategy changes. [7:57] The product vision is a reminder of the ultimate product goal so that teams remember what they're working towards. Product leaders need to create an environment of stability and empathy where their teams don't feel constant uncertainty when strategy changes. [11:36] Product leaders need to propose solutions but also give their teams room to be creative. [13:35] Lisa talks about how she became a Chief Product Officer. [15:44] "The role of the product leader - the real opportunity for the product leader - is to be somebody that understands that entire ecosystem and understands how to integrate it," Lisa stresses. The product leader has to be the one to bridge the gap in organizations where sales and product operate in silos. They have to be the one to have conversations with both departments and gain insight on what they know about the product, and what they need. Asking those questions becomes part of your product research, and it also allows the teams in these departments to take ownership of the product and in turn, they become more invested in the product's outcome. [20:00] Being an integrator within your organization is powerful and important. Asking questions about what people need and how you can help them get there will make you influential within the organization. [23:48] The key to facilitating a problem-solving mindset is less talking about what needs to be done and actually doing it. "Get everyone in a room and start modeling," Lisa suggests. "Lead the conversation and show people how this works." [24:34] Lisa shares her advice for future product leaders. [29:36] To foster a product mindset in organizations that never had it, focus on the outcomes. See yourself as the “product” and think about how you can create an excellent user experience. Be the bridge between leadership and the teams that work with you. [33:46] Resources Lisa Schneider | LinkedIn | Twitter Framework Homeownership
  • Product Thinking podcast

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  • Product Thinking podcast

    Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Adding in Prod Ops, When to Move On, and What a CPO Should Know

    20:28

    In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about building product operations teams, staying in a position you love vs. diversifying your experiences, and how much a CPO actually needs to know about the inner workings of their product.  Q: How can an organization make the pivot from being reactionary in their product initiatives to being driven by market research and data? What kind of talent should a product leader be on the lookout for when building this type of team from the ground up? [2:04] Q: How should I balance my love for my current company and role with the pressure to explore new opportunities? [8:39] Q: As a CPO, do I invest the same amount of time in understanding everything about the product, particularly with a complex and feature-rich B2B product? Or should I focus on creating the necessary conditions to transform the product culture of the company? How advanced does my product knowledge need to be? [14:36] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter MelissaPerri.com
  • Product Thinking podcast

    Marrying Product Management and Engineering with Maura Kelly

    32:46

    Maura Kelly is VP of Engineering at Mailchimp. With over 17 years of experience in the tech industry, Maura is an expert in software development and programming. She joins Melissa Perri on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast to provide engineering’s point of view, and to share helpful tips that will improve the way you as a product manager are collaborating with developers.   Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Maura talk about in this episode: Maura’s traditional path to engineering, and her experience at Mailchimp, where the culture is about empowering the underdog. [1:45] Mailchimp’s first product managers came from other internal disciplines and were workers who already knew Mailchimp and their customers very well. Over time, they continued nurturing people into product managers and started hiring people with product management experience externally. They also mixed up the teams, so that people new to Mailchimp could learn from veterans of the company. [5:44] There is a misconception that engineers don’t care about customers and should keep their heads down doing code, Melissa says. “Engineers want to work on stuff that matters,” Maura claims. They want to be part of a larger mission that makes a difference; it motivates them and enhances their performance. If your head stays down, it’s hard to know the context and information that can help you build a better product. “First solve the problem, then write the code,” she adds. [11:03] Why engineers should be involved in the discovery process, and how this can be done. [12:12] Combining something that someone wants to do with something the company needs, is a great way to both solve a problem and motivate an employee. Maura shares how Mailchimp conducts this ‘management magic.’ [15:05] Melissa and Maura explore how product managers and engineers can work with leadership to ensure their teams focus on the right things. If there are people that aren't a good fit or aren't doing the best work that they could be doing for whatever reason, that should be discussed at the leadership level. [17:16] One thing people don’t realize about engineering is that there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Not only do they write code for solving customer problems, but they also have to write that code to certain coding standards; they’re also getting code reviews, giving them to other people, thinking about the security of the feature they’re writing, among other things. [20:35] Product managers often struggle with understanding the technical side of building a feature. Melissa asks Maura how they should be checking in with the engineering team about the timeline of things that need to be done. [25:28] Resources Maura Kelly on LinkedIn | Twitter MauraChache.com
  • Product Thinking podcast

    Reflecting on 2021 and Predictions for 2022

    17:26

    On this episode of The Product Thinking Podcast, Melissa Perri is looking back on 2021. She is reflecting on the learnings and conversations she had about product strategy and product management. Melissa shares her tips for product leaders, and what they need to be focusing on within their organizations as they enter the new year.   Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa talk about:  The conversation is shifting towards product thinking - not just in the sense of adopting and implementing processes, but asking what it really means to think like a product manager. Product leaders are now critically thinking about what the systems they use and how they interact with each other, as well as how they can influence people they don't have direct authority over. Product leaders are also starting to utilize their skills across different platforms. It's not only about process anymore, but also product strategy and product operations. [2:12] Product leaders need to have systems in place that help them scale. They also need to have product operations processes that can gather data and pass it along to product managers so that they can implement product strategy. [5:19] Product led growth is not a replacement for sales. Product led growth is simply your product being so good that it sells itself. Companies need to work on their onboarding if they decide they want to go in the direction of product led growth. [9:16] Product managers need to think about the way they deliver value to customers, and whether or not doing so takes away from the ecosystems their customers live in. "If we have a responsibility as product managers to build great products for our customers, we also have to make sure that we're not inadvertently hurting other people," Melissa advises. [10:40] It's important as a product manager to pay attention to the new technologies on the market. Pay attention to what investors are investing in, and think about what value you can harness to your customers from these new technologies. [14:38] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter MelissaPerri.com
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    Our Best Advice on Strategy and Roadmaps

    32:28

    As the year comes to a close, leaders are looking to the future and figuring out how to build out their roadmaps for 2022. On this week’s Product Thinking Podcast, Melissa Perri shares clips of some of the best insights on roadmap creation and strategic planning at different levels of an organization so that leaders can start off the new year right.  Here are some of the key points that were talked about: When building a roadmap, don't assume you can predict the future. Focus on the products that are being built now, so you can have near-term certainty with planning. Executive teams have to do discovery work if they want better estimates. [1:30] Product management needs to be tied to strategic decisions within the business. They have to be involved in the conversation around revenue growth, product growth and expansion because they need to understand the vision of the business. [6:50] Companies need Vision Led Product Management. This means being definitive about what the value of your product is, who it's being provided for and where the differentiation is going to lie. It's essentially having all the components of a product vision. [10:52] Before building a product strategy at a small scale, first figure out if one already exists at your organization. If there is, and it's being executed poorly, figure out what the essential goals are. If there’s no product strategy, do whatever you can to find out and understand the goals of the executives. Once you understand those goals, you can start to build your own product strategy. [13:46] To set strategy, leaders have to be the ones to make the choices about what to invest in for the growth of the business. They have to think about what skillsets they wish to grow in the company, what technologies they want to implement and what they can do to differentiate themselves from their competitors in 2-3 years' time. [20:30] If your sales team is going outside your company's product definition by a great deal, then you most likely don't truly understand the market your product is for. Product leaders need to communicate product-market fit to their sales teams and understand that they as product leaders don't make all the decisions. There has to be an alignment between strategy and communication in the organization. [27:09] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter MelissaPerri.com
  • Product Thinking podcast

    Dissecting the Pluses and Pitfalls of SAFe with Eric Willeke

    42:55

    Eric Willeke, SAFe Principal Contributor, trainer, and Fellow, is a co-founder of Elevate Consulting where he teaches executives how to lead agile transformations. Eric joins Melissa Perri on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast to talk all about the pros and cons of SAFe, and to share their personal experiences with this often polarizing agile framework.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Eric talk about in this episode: How Eric first started in the field of SAFe. [2:49] There is a huge divide within companies who adopt SAFe between what the product managers do versus what product owners do. It's hard getting those two disciplines to work together for various reasons. This divide hurts the product field because it makes it hard to level up people and careers.  [8:51] The role and function of product owners and product managers are essentially the same. Product owners make product-centric decisions for a team of people who want to create amazing technology products. Product managers do the same thing but on a larger scale, and think further ahead. Product managers have more of a roadmap, and more of an abstract view; they see in terms of quarters as opposed to product managers’ monthly timeline. [11:41] Melissa asks what a product management career path looks like in the world of SAFe. "Is a stack of bigger titles equivalent to career progression?" Eric responds. The important thing is whether collaboration is happening along each point in the 'stack'. Are the people in the smaller teams working with the people in the larger teams and are they doing so effectively? [14:28] Melissa and Eric talk about why individuals may deviate from the given product management career path. [16:47] To bridge the gap between the frameworks that are made specifically for digital transformation in companies and software, product people need to consider a few things. These include the products you're selling, the top-level customer-facing service you're offering, and how software helps you do that. The software product people are there to improve the digital transformation and digital enablement experience across the organization. [21:47] Eric talks about the role of the lean portfolio. [27:30] Software product people have a breadth of responsibility within enterprises and very little opportunities for innovation. A lot of product management within this realm is learning enough about one side, and what is actually possible on the other side, then bridging those two together to make innovative leaps. [31:50] Organizations need to provide deep and narrow product visions. You don't want to have ten thousand ideas and visions running around within a company because it's chaotic. Start from strategy, go to prioritization, then look at your teams and who is going to be affected. [33:25] Eric gives tips on how to decide how many product managers to have in your organization. [36:47] Resources Eric Willeke | LinkedIn | Twitter Elevate Consulting
  • Product Thinking podcast

    Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About, Public Roadmaps, Project Management, Product Practice, and More

    17:46

    In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about topics across the board- she covers the responsibilities of a Director and VP of Product Management, how to get in your product reps outside of work, her thoughts on sharing your roadmaps with your customer, and product managers vs project managers.  Q: Do Directors of Product Management pull out of the day-to-day and just manage the departments? [1:34] Q: How might a non-technical PM find or develop products outside of work? [4:39] Q: Should we make our roadmap public? What are the complications that may arise if we do? [7:21] Q: How do the roles of project and product managers differ? Where do you see the practical and pragmatic product management's response to value delivery when there are time and money constraints? [9:51] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter MelissaPerri.com
  • Product Thinking podcast

    Testing Your Ideas with David Bland

    43:29

    David Bland is the founder of Precoil, a company that helps organizations find product market fit through assessing risk and experimentation, and the co-author of Testing Business Ideas. David joins Melissa Perri on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast to talk about how to identify your assumptions, experimenting within slower feedback cycles, the importance of aligned confidence, and how product leaders have to continuously walk the walk when it comes to experimentation and de-risk.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and David talk about in this episode: David talks about his professional background and how he first got started in the field of business testing. [1:49] David’s framework that uses themes from design thinking to define risk and identify assumptions. Experiment in the areas where there is the least amount of evidence. [3:32] Many product teams put too much emphasis on feasibility but they also need to focus on desirability. Talk to customers to figure out if they want the product itself; if they are, figure out cost and revenue. [4:46] David advises product managers to start with the business model and understand it; that will inform the plan for how the business is going to make money and how the product is going to impact their business. [6:44] "What are the leading indicators that would predict that someone's going to renew? You should be able to start thinking through what are these touchpoints that would lead to somebody renewing, and how do we remove the friction from that?” David tells Melissa. [8:28] The biggest hurdle to experimentation is time. If you don't have time, you are going to take the easy route. The goal is not to run experiments. The goal is to de-risk what you're working on to make better investment decisions. [13:11] If a company is in a check-the-box mentality, it's not in the right condition to learn experimentation. You need to think about how you're de-risking, and changing your mindset and approach to processes within your organizations. David talks about the way he's designed his training programs to help companies with this problem. [16:55] Repetition is key as product leader. Don't stop talking about the way you want your teams to run because you think they no longer need to hear it. "It's part of your job as leaders to keep repeating this, and showing it, and enabling it and creating a culture and environment where people can work this way," David says. [19:38] David talks about experimenting around product strategy from a higher level, what types of experiments he's seen at that level and what experiments he advises product leaders to run. [20:38] One of the main problems with experimentation is that companies often fall into the realm of testing on their customers as opposed to testing with their customers. It should be about co-creation instead. [32:36] If you focus on customer value, you don't always have to have a finished product. It can be a service. Once you're fulfilling a need for that customer, or solving a problem that's valuable to a customer, or performing a service, you can start charge for that service. [35:30] David talks about companies that have been doing experimentation well. [38:00] Resources David Bland | LinkedIn | Twitter Precoil
  • Product Thinking podcast

    Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Navigating Your Role as a Product Manager

    19:15

    In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about what responsibilities and roles a product manager should take on in various scenarios. She talks through working alongside a UX researcher, responsibilities around maintaining strategy when the bigger picture is unclear, and the do’s and don’ts of working under a new superior. Q: When do you think a UX researcher should be involved to support discovery, and what activities should they take on within discovery? [3:21] Q: How should product managers maintain strategic fit in large corporations, especially in the midst of CEO changes, COVID-19, and new technology trends? How do you balance user-centricity versus internal business value and strategic fit? How am I responsible as a product manager to completely manage all of these vision changes versus what our senior management does, making sure our strategy is adapting? [8:09] Q: Do you have any advice for navigating the new normal [of having a new superior]? [15:32] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter MelissaPerri.com

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