Product Thinking podcast

Leading with Vision and Purpose with Ken Norton

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Ken Norton is Melissa Perri’s guest on this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Ken is an executive coach who is passionate about “whole person” coaching– he works with product leaders not just on their careers but on their growth and development in all facets of their lives.  Ken joins Melissa to discuss the evolution of product management, the stark difference between empowered and unempowered product teams, his biggest piece of advice to early career PMs, what great leadership looks like, his 14 years of experience working at Google and on products like Google Maps and Google Calendar, and why ultimately, product is all about people.  Here are some key points Ken and Melissa talk about:  Ken reflects on how the product management field has changed and matured over the years. Product management is no longer a “nascent, upstart concept”- it’s an established role that people understand the need for. Ken laments the number of product leaders with no experience in the field being hired into companies. He discusses “this trend of people putting leaders in the position of product leadership, who have never been in the product field before.” Senior product leaders should develop and execute an apprenticeship-type program for people who want to work in the product field.  Melissa comments that several product leaders are becoming general managers; she worries about the future of people who are purely product people. Ken says that he sees the general manager position as “a maturity of the product leadership role, a recognition of how important and critical that job really is.” Successful product leaders learn to lead in a way that inspires others, while confronting challenges in a proactive way. Ken talks about his experience at Google, and shares stories and examples about the leadership team and their approach to product.  Ensuring your team’s success means laying your plan out in steps and showing real evidence: it means showing a path forward that people can rally behind. Resources Ken Norton on LinkedIn | Twitter | Bring the Donuts, LLC

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