51 episodes

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.

Product Thinking Melissa Perri

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 10 Ratings

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.

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

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

    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

    • 20 min
    Marrying Product Management and Engineering with Maura Kelly

    Marrying Product Management and Engineering with Maura Kelly

    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

    • 32 min
    Reflecting on 2021 and Predictions for 2022

    Reflecting on 2021 and Predictions for 2022

    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

    • 17 min
    Our Best Advice on Strategy and Roadmaps

    Our Best Advice on Strategy and Roadmaps

    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

    • 32 min
    Dissecting the Pluses and Pitfalls of SAFe with Eric Willeke

    Dissecting the Pluses and Pitfalls of SAFe with Eric Willeke

    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

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

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

    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

    • 17 min

Customer Reviews

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10 Ratings

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Can’t wait for the next episode

Even as a seasoned product manager I learn so much for each of these episodes. It’s a highlight when a new one comes out.

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