75 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
    • 4.9 • 75 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.

    The Pivot Series, Part 3: Thriving In Uncertainty with John Shapiro

    The Pivot Series, Part 3: Thriving In Uncertainty with John Shapiro

    Melissa Perri welcomes John Shapiro to the third episode of this four-part miniseries about companies that successfully made major pivots during the pandemic. John is the Head of Product of Global Supplier at Wayfair. He manages a team of 60+ product managers, represents the company’s global suppliers, and ensures that products meet the standards of global consumers. Alex shares how Wayfair handled shifting from a heavily in-person culture to operating entirely online, how they rode an unexpected and sudden spike in business, how their long-term vision and strategy kept them on course, how to keep a roadmap flexible even in an enterprise, managing employee burnout during the pandemic, and why they always come back to their customers’ problems above everything else. 

    Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and John talk about:

    John talks about his professional background, his current role in Wayfair, and his accomplishments at the company. [1:46]

    John highlights the initial conversations and concerns Wayfair’s product leaders were having at the start of the pandemic and how they had to shift from having in-person meetings to building products. [3:50]

    Like most companies during that time, Wayfair’s main concern was whether their revenue would plummet due to lockdown and restrictions. However, there was increased demand for home entertainment products along with a rise in e-commerce, so Wayfair found a way to survive. [6:19]

    Wayfair had to be willing to alter its roadmap, even though it caused major revenue loss. John explains, “Our roadmaps are generally built out with problem statements and customer hypotheses… we try to focus on who the user is, what is the problem that they are encountering and how to solve it for them”. [13:00]

    At Wayfair, product teams have biannual tactical meetings to discuss their strategies. They break down their long-term ideas into short-term hypotheses so they have an objective they can strive to accomplish. If it succeeds the teams get the okay to proceed with their related ventures. [15:21]

    To have a successful product team, the team must be comfortable communicating with the leader. John suggests that you should deliver what your roadmap promised. Reiterating your ideas creates an environment that’s focused on solving a problem for the customer. [17:42]

    Wayfair already had systems in place that helped suppliers get their products to market during the pandemic. They were able to continue to supply real-time data to help suppliers develop their businesses and determine what their consumers needed. [24:23]

    Wayfair ensures that its product teams are as close to the consumer as possible; they ensure that the people designing their products understand their consumers’ needs. [25:23]

    Product leaders must form relationships with potential suppliers, but that may be difficult to do remotely. John suggests turning on your camera while video calling your client because that allows them to connect with you and helps build trust [30:23]


    Resources 
    John Shapiro on LinkedIn | Twitter

    • 40 min
    The Pivot Series, Part 2: Reevaluating The Future with Alex Haefner

    The Pivot Series, Part 2: Reevaluating The Future with Alex Haefner

    Melissa Perri welcomes Alex Haefner to the second episode of this four-part miniseries about companies that successfully made major pivots during the pandemic. Alex is the Head of Product at Envoy and strives to create products for a safe and healthy workplace. Alex tells Melissa how Envoy, originally a company that made products for physical workspaces, had to shift its entire product strategy during the pandemic by staying closely connected to their customers’ changing needs. They talk about why a multi-product company is the goal, how to avoid the “innovator’s dilemma,” how to talk about your roadmap with your customers, and when to keep testing versus when to forge ahead with the data you have. 

    Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Alex talk about:

    Alex talks about his start in product, his professional background, and his current role at Envoy. [1:40].

    At the very beginning of the pandemic, Envoy had to adjust its product strategy because their primary customers were physical workplaces. [3:58]

    As the Head of Product, Alex and his team put together a cross-functional team from product, marketing, and engineering to combat the global changes. The CSM was in constant contact with their customers to understand their current needs. [4:50]

    To survive in the global marketplace, product teams and companies must be willing to reevaluate their roadmaps if they do not align with the current needs of their customers, and develop a product that is in demand. [9:04] 

    Constant customer research and communication allow your product team to be prepared for what your clients currently need and need in the future. [12:10]

    Strive to become a multi-product company and try to make your products work together harmoniously. This benefits both the company and the customer. [14:42]

    To avoid an innovator’s dilemma, you have to understand what your customers want out of your core product and what your product lacks. Then balance those two to ensure that you keep innovating and iterating on your product so it doesn’t become stagnant. [16:56]

    As a product team, ask your customers every possible question so you can get down to what the customers and end-users need and what would benefit them. [19:03]

    To build a successful product, the product team should consult with their customers when building their roadmap for the year and ensure that they are on board with the direction your company is taking. [20:53]

    Overcome analysis paralysis as a leader by ranking the probability of what you and your team believe the future would look like. [23:41]


    Resources
    Alex Haefner on LinkedIn | Twitter 
    Envoy 

    • 32 min
    The Pivot Series, Part 1: Embracing The Unknown with Colleen Johnson

    The Pivot Series, Part 1: Embracing The Unknown with Colleen Johnson

    Melissa Perri welcomes Colleen Johnson to the first episode of this four-part miniseries about companies that successfully made major pivots during the pandemic. Colleen is the Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of ScatterSpoke, a company that leverages AI to make the most out of retrospective feedback. Colleen tells Melissa how their company needed to pivot quickly to win against competitors, how she had to shift from being a subject matter expert to embracing uncertainty and curiosity, her version of a valuable MVP, and which retro data she finds to be the most valuable. 

    Here are some key points you'll hear Melissa and Colleen discuss: 

    Colleen talks about her professional background, what led her to found ScatterSpoke, and what services they provide. [4:31]

    During the pandemic, when Scatterspoke lost clients to major competitors, they had to determine what made them stand out from other companies who provided the same retrospective services – the answer was a large quantity of retro data. [6:11]

    Colleen advises listeners to approach change with an open mindset and to be a little bit more cautious. [8:56]

    A friendly invite via their in-person professional network or even a cold outreach on LinkedIn can help a product manager launch a new product, connect with engineer leaders to provide them with data, test products, and offer feedback. [12:01]

    In coaching teams and helping organizations adopt agile practices, most people tend to focus on delivery rather than breaking down the work. If you do not break down the work in a way that allows you to iterate and get feedback quickly, the whole pivot process has no benefit. [14:38]

    The most valuable part of presenting small chunks to engineer leaders and customers is what you learn from their responses, positive or negative. [16:12]

    To have a successful retro tool, the teams using it - rather than scrum masters and engineer managers - must see its value to their process. [19:46]

    Engineering managers and product leaders need to understand that retrospectives are important because they help pinpoint issues in the organization. [20:11]

    As a person working in product and product management, Colleen says that you have to “remove yourself from the subject matter expert seat”. You have to be curious and willing to learn and understand that you are venturing into waters beyond your scope of knowledge with this new transition. [26:45]


    Resources 
    Colleen Johnson | LinkedIn | Twitter
    ScatterSpoke | Twitter | Instagram

    • 37 min
    Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Panicked Startup Founders, Aligning Executives, and Vetting Startup Jobs

    Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Panicked Startup Founders, Aligning Executives, and Vetting Startup Jobs

    In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about wishing startup founders were able to see the value of being more product-oriented and how to influence them in that direction, organizing executives across multiple business units to align on product strategy, and how to gather evidence that a startup is the right place to work (and whether or not it’ll stay in business if you do decide to take the job).

    Q: How do I help my leadership be more product-oriented? [2:06]

    Q: How would you go about getting alignment or endorsement from your executive group with multiple business units on product strategy? [9:45]

    Q: What would be your strategy to evaluate if a product management role in a startup is a good fit? What questions should I ask in the interview? [15:44]

    Resources
    Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
    MelissaPerri.com

    • 24 min
    Following What Brings You Joy with Lenny Rachitsky

    Following What Brings You Joy with Lenny Rachitsky

    Today on the Product Thinking Podcast, Melissa Perri is joined by Lenny Rachitsky, author of the popular product advice column Lenny’s Newsletter. Melissa and Lenny compare notes on what it’s like to move from working directly in product to creating product content and courses, and Lenny explains how his newsletter was born and its growth trajectory since, what he’s learned about how to create valuable content, what success means to him, and how to keep your energy focused on the things that light you up. Here are some of the key points you’ll hear Lenny and Melissa talk about:

    How Lenny got into product management originally. He started his career in computer science and initially worked in coding before deciding to try and build his own company, which he did in Montreal, before joining AirBNB where he moved into product management. [02:20]

    Melissa talks about how, not that long ago, there wasn’t really a career path for product management and her realization that you can be involved in management without building it yourself. [05:15]

    By writing Medium post called What Seven Years at AirBNB Taught me about building that did incredibly well, Lenny realize there was an audience out there hungry for content about product management and development. Eventually, this led to his newsletter, job board, and course. [09:55]

    Lenny shares how much of his work is research-based – determining the information he wants to share, and reaching out to the experts who have the best answers, then consolidating them into actionable, valuable materials for people. [14:55]

    Where do we get energy from things we do? Not every type of work or every type of content is a home run for the person creating it. Melissa and Lenny talk about how a Product mindset can be helpful with this. [18:25]

    Melissa talks about how even when you’re running your own company, it’s still work, and you can still burn out. There is nothing wrong with building a lifestyle business–not everything has to be a major, venture-funded enterprise. [21:15]

    Many people want to start lifestyle-type businesses. Lenny shares his advice for building something that brings you a lot of joy. One of the keys is having people to support you, and building in time for experimentation. [25:20]

    Melissa shares her own philosophy on building a business that fits your lifestyle instead of changing your life to fit your business, and how to tell when it’s not working. [29:45]

    There are two phases to growth–how it starts and how it grows. Lenny talks about how growth has worked in his ventures. Quality of content is paramount.[34:40]

    Lenny talks about what is currently interesting and inspiring to him in Product management. [40:55]

     
    Resources: 
    Lenny on the web | Twitter | LinkedIn
    Lenny’s Newsletter
    28 Ways to Grow Supply in a Marketplace

    • 44 min
    Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Strategy, Discovery and Delivery

    Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Strategy, Discovery and Delivery

    In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about separating product strategy from overall company strategy, rules of thumb for discovery and delivery phases, and what a small company starting to scale up really needs in order to carve out a thoughtful product strategy and vision.
    Q: Do you have any advice on how to align between product strategy and business strategy, especially when a product doesn't have a strong executive presence? [1:13]
    Q: How do you manage discovery and delivery simultaneously during a 12-week quarter? Should there be two different roles? [6:59]
    Q: What should the next step be for a company entering a scale-up model with no long-term strategy? [11:13]

    Resources
    Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
    MelissaPerri.com

    • 18 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
75 Ratings

75 Ratings

avocado1196 ,

Great learning resource for any level of product manager

As indicated by the review title, I can only say this is the best PM resource I have. I even recommend to my teammates and team as I believe my team can hugely benefit from Melissa and other speakers insight, experience, and practical advice. Product manager is hard because the concepts can be easy to understand but they are abstract. Melissa’s podcast translates abstract idea into something concrete and executable that we as PM can practice in our day to day job!

PM Terra ,

The best product podcast

I’ve listened to just about all of them and this is by far my favorite. I’m a PM with about four years of experience and find this podcast highly relatable, relevant, and insightful. I’ve listened to multiple episodes twice, jot down notes, and then apply learnings in my day-to-day. I find other podcasts are either very specific to a domain or more conceptual and c-suite strategy level. Melissa talks about it all and asks questions across so many challenging product areas, and doesn’t shy away from the “ok but how does that actually work in reality”. No fluff and tons of insight. Highly recommend.

Chan Work Comp ,

BEST product podcast

I have listened to a lot of PM focused podcast and this is by far the best. I love the mix of in depth interviews and product Q&A. I always come away with a few nuggets of knowledge I scribble down in my notes app, a new product influencer to follow or book to read. Multiple times I have taken what I have heard and applied it to my work directly. 👏🏻

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