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.
Building Trust To Build Great Products with Brian Bhuta
The theme of this week’s Product Thinking Podcast is transformation, and Melissa Perri’s guest this week is Brian Bhuta, Chief Product Officer at Signify Health. Brian is an experienced product leader and is passionate about establishing and scaling product management organizations in an agile environment. He joins Melissa to discuss transformations and product management from an inside perspective.
Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Brian talk about in this episode:
How Brian and Melissa both got into product transformation. [1:50]
The raw material of transformation is people who are passionate about wanting to do better on a regular basis. [07:09]
Employees and customers want a bold vision, and not a boring one. [10:26]
Consider and acknowledge that there are people who have invested more into the company than you have. A leader who has the goal of product transformation, but who has a mindset that they’re going to “save” or “fix” the company, is doomed to alienate the people who have helped build the company to where it is. [14:19]
We have to build a relationship with our team and the people we are now in charge of. “You’re never gonna be able to work with someone if you don’t understand them,” Brain tells Melissa. [22:24]
An executive who sees themself as part of the team will make great steps towards transformation and help the company move towards a great workplace culture. [30:54]
When selling a product we need to consider if the product and the market are right. We also need to make sure that we are not promising too many things to our customers. [46:11]
Melissa and Brian talk about building relationships as both sales and product leaders, and building trust internally. [47:37]
Once you build a foundation of trust you can deal with any subsequent backlash or friction that may arise as systems begin to change. [52:07]
Brian Bhuta | LinkedIn, Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Comunicating Up
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about product teams with unequipped product leaders, ineffective usage of data, and killing products.
Q: Have you come across situations in your career as a product manager where you were under the authority of people with no background in product management? How would you recommend I bring my concern about this to my leadership without coming across as arrogant? [1:08]
Q: My organization struggles to use data effectively. What are some ways to convey the importance of data to leadership? And what are some achievable milestones that can be acquired to prove the value of investing in data? [9:14]
Q: How can I reframe the decision to kill products so that everyone can understand them? [13:32]
Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
What Makes a Great Vision with Ben Foster
Melissa Perri welcomes Ben Foster - Chief Product Officer at Whoop and author of Building What Matters: Delivering Key Outcomes with Vision-Led Product Management - to this week’s Product Thinking Podcast. Ben is an experienced product leader who teaches the value of vision to help us craft the right strategy and achieve our desired outcomes. He joins Melissa to discuss the framework he details in his book and what makes a great vision.
Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Ben talk about in this episode:
Ben and Melissa swap stories of how they “accidentally” got into product management. [2:31]
Ben’s book describes what causes some companies to struggle with product management, as well as what makes other companies excel. It also features recommendations for product leaders. [9:10]
Vision-led product management, Ben tells Melissa, is “being definitive about what the value of your product is going to be, for whom you're going to provide that value, where the differentiation is going to lie, ...all these major components of the product vision.” [10:12]
Successful companies see their profits as a byproduct of the value they provide for their customers. Defining what success looks like to customers involves deep research into who your customers are, what motivates them, who else can solve their problem, and what would make them choose you and stay with you. “As you map that out,” Ben remarks, “then you can make sure that everybody on the product team is rowing in the same direction towards actually realizing that vision.” [11:35]
Melissa asks Ben to talk about how he implemented his vision-led product management framework at Go Canvas. [20:02]
Melissa and Ben talk about the steps in the customer journey. [22:17]
“The reason that people actually buy is because of the performance things; the reason they continue to buy is because of the delight,” Ben emphasizes. [27:55]
Melissa asks Ben, “What else do you see [as] the differentiators between companies that do product management well and companies that don't?” Ben responds, “One of the key elements for me is they understand the connectedness between value for their customers and value for their business.” [32:33]
Ben and Melissa discuss how to convince the CEO that not every opportunity should be pursued. [42:26]
Ben Foster on LinkedIn
Building What Matters: Delivering Key Outcomes with Vision-Led Product Management
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions about Internal Products and Prioritization
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about pragmatic versus ideal product management, internal product management, and determining how to build products for a two-sided marketplace.
Q: Do you think there should be a difference between ideal product management and pragmatic product management? [0:59]
Q: What kind of metrics are you looking at when customer-based internal users are forced to use the software? There's no LTV, CAC, revenue models, or any of the normal user metrics in B2C or B2B. [7:38]
Q: We're building a product for renters, our end users, and landlords, our customers. I'm struggling with prioritizing whose problems to solve first. Is it better to build for our paying customer first, or do we build as fast as possible for renters but risk more turnover with the landlords? [14:03]
Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Creating Product-Led Strategy with Oji Udezue
Oji Udezue is the Chief Product Officer at Parsible and was formerly the VP of Product at Calendly. Melissa Perri describes him as “one of the best product leaders I have ever met.” His extensive experience in both B2B and B2C companies, including Microsoft and Atlassian, has given him insight into how to set strategy, even in companies where there is none. He joins Melissa to talk about what it takes to implement a product-led strategy, and how to influence a culture shift in your organization.
Here are some key points from their discussion:
Oji defines being product-led as “increasing customer focus… It means infusing the entire company with this idea that it's more efficient for everyone… to really execute on a really great product that pulls itself forward. And if you can do that then your ability to make profit actually increases…” [2:40]
The role of the CPO is to understand the company goals, vision, and mission and track an efficient product course to achieve that. The CPO’s biggest leverage is deciding what to invest in and what not to, Oji says. [6:13]
A draft strategy is a lightning rod: it gets the discussion started. Oji uses the VMSO (vision, mission, strategies, objectives) framework to draft strategy. Melissa asks him to advise product leaders who want to start drafting a strategy. He urges them to write it down and then socialize it. He also emphasizes that your draft strategy should be good: people should see wisdom and truth in it. [13:10]
Oji predicts that all enterprise companies will become B2C in 10 years. [22:05]
Melissa asks what is product-led growth. Oji defines the term and explains what it takes: a good product with great market fit, a good brand, good word of mouth and virality. [27:02]
You have to expand your addressable market constantly to stay in the game. [30:38]
Oji and Melissa discuss how product leaders can help change their company culture. [33:00]
Oji Udezue on LinkedIn | Twitter | Medium
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Product Transformation
In this Dear Melissa episode, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about product transformation.
Q1: As the leader of a new product function initiative, what steps can I take to earn the CEO’s trust and create a company culture that embraces an outcome-driven and product-lead mindset? [2:07]
Q2: How can I ensure my company is approaching product transformation in the right way? [7:31]
Q3: How long does it take a strong product manager (junior to intermediate level) to make some positive impact in a company that lacks a good product culture? Should they stick around if there are no big positive changes after a year, or should they move on to try and learn elsewhere? [15:18]
Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter