This is a podcast for people interested in building or designing tech products.
At least once a week, I speak to product managers, product leaders, product marketers, UX professionals, and anyone else involved in product management and product delivery.
Come and listen to some great conversations and get inspired!
Listen on your favourite podcast app or on https://www.oneknightinproduct.com
Applying Product Management Principles to Life (with Miloš Belčević, Author "Build Your Way")
Miloš Belčević is a product manager and author who believes that product management principles are powerful not only when managing products, but also when managing the ultimate product; your life itself. He has written a book on the subject, "Build Your Way: Applying Product Management to Life". We spoke about the book as well as some of the lessons inside.
1. We can apply product management principles to life
We can apply product management principles to one's life, beyond just professional settings. This includes using prioritisation frameworks to manage personal goals and tasks, and considering whether there's a "North-Star metric" that can help guide personal growth and decision-making.
2. Context switching can be hell at home as well as work
Whether we're switching contexts between different roles in our careers or having to balance multiple responsibilities, we can apply product management strategies to help us prioritise our time and manage our mental bandwidth.
3. We can define "Value" for our life as well as our products
There's no magic formula for "value", but it's important to understand the deeper meaning of the concept of value, whether delivering value to customers or identifying what brings value to one's life.
4. Our time is limited and we need to prioritise what's most important to us
We don't have to use prioritisation frameworks for everything, but applying product management prioritisation techniques can help us focus on what is most important. If we practice enough, we can get into the habit, and it even becomes somewhat intuitive to our life decisions.
5. Product discovery techniques can foster better interactions and conversations in life
We can use our empathic and discovery mindset to help solicit genuine feedback and dig into people's motivations in conversations. This offers the tantalising prospect of being able to bridge ideological divides and improve the quality of our interactions with society as a whole.
Check out "Build Your Way"
"Perhaps you have heard about product management. Maybe you use it in your work. If that’s the case, chances are high that you know that product management is full of useful frameworks, principles, and tools that focus on prioritization and maximizing value, better planning, agile delivery, and more. But what if you want to use these tools in your personal life? How would you do that in a way that will make sure you will live a better, happier, and more fulfilled life? In this book, author Miloš Belčević will show you how."
Check it out on Amazon.
You can catch up with Miloš on LinkedIn or check out his website.
Related episodes you should like:
Survive the Feature Factory by Applying Product Thinking to Product Thinking (John Cutler, Product Evangelist & Coach @ Amplitude)
Practice Makes Perfect: Embracing the Messy Reality of Product Management (Matt LeMay, Product Management Consultant & Author "Product Management in Practice")
The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Productization (Eisha Armstrong, Co-founder @ Vecteris & Author "Productize")
Achieving Product Excellence with the Product Operations Manifesto (Antonia Landi, Product Ops Consultant & Co-Author "Product Operations Manifesto")
Paying Off Your Organisation's Human Debt Through Agility & Psychological Safety (Duena Blomstrom, Founder & CEO @ People Not Tech)
Embracing Change to Innovate in Product Management (Greg Coticchia, CEO @ Sopheon)
Fearlessly Defeating the Four Horsemen of a Product-Friendly Culture (Eisha Armstrong, Co-founder @ Vecteris & Author "Productize" & "Fearless")
Pragmatic Digital Transformation in Traditional Industries (Dan Chapman, Director, Product Line Leader @ Merck)
Standing up for User Research... and User Researchers (with Debbie Levitt, CXO @ DeltaCX and Author "Customers Know You Suck")
Debbie Levitt is a long-time UX and CX consultant who wants us all to get better at putting our users at the centre of the conversation, rather than paying lip service. She's the author of a few books, including "Customers Know You Suck" and runs a thriving community of UX professionals. Some of the stories from that community have concerned her, alongside the general perceived decline of the strategic role of UX, and she recently came out all guns blazing against continuous discovery, PM-led research, and one particular author who champions it. We spoke about the role of UX and CX in organisations, what's happening to user researchers, and whether PMs are really to blame for it.
1. User Experience and Customer Experience used to be the same thing, and they can be again
In these digital days, it seems like most people think UX people are just there in the corner to colour in people's ideas, but UX should be a strategic role that enables user and customer-focused decision-making and makes sure we always balance our business's needs with those of our users.
2. We prize and prioritise speed over quality - we just have to get it done
We've been moving fast and breaking things for long enough now to realise how often it doesn't work. User research feels unconscionably slow to some people, but it doesn't have to be slow, and doing good user research (whoever does it) is an investment in trying to get things right.
3. No matter how much product managers feel they're disempowered, they're still the Golden Children of the company
Back in the old days, product managers were hiding in the corner with the UX people, as agilists and engineers rode through the company calling all the shots. Now the UX people are hiding with the engineers whilst the PM makes all of the decisions. There's a power imbalance, and it's not a true "trio".
4. User researchers are getting laid off, some of the jobs are gone for good and, at least in some cases, this is because leaders think they can just hand the work off to PMs
It's not fair or reasonable to lay all of this at the doors of PM thought leaders championing certain approaches. There are plenty of UX thought leaders who champion them too. But, people are getting laid off and at least some of them are blaming PM-led product discovery as the root cause.
5. We should be able to look at books and take what works from them, but apply critical thinking and ensure that we don't follow any message blindly
Most books have something useful in them, and all approaches can work in some contexts. Debbie has her approach, others have their approaches, and there's no one "right way". But, it's important to make sure that approaches can be challenged, expanded upon, and that the approaches and techniques are described clearly and without room for interpretation.
Check out "Customers Know You Suck"
"Customers Know You Suck is the how-to manual for customer-centric product-market fit. Its highly actionable models, maps, and processes empower everyone to improve the Customer Experience (CX). Learn how to investigate, diagnose, and act on what's blocking teams. Gather the evidence and data that better inform decisions, leading to increased satisfaction, conversion, and loyalty. Use our governance model for implementing and monitoring the progress, success, and failure of internal process changes and experiments."
Check it out on Amazon or pay what you want.
Check out how to use a Knowledge Quadrant
Debbie is a fan of doing good discovery, naturally. Here's a video of an approach she recommends called the Knowledge Quadrant: Workshop: Discovery Phase - Knowledge Quadrant
You can catch up with Debbie on LinkedIn or check out Delta CX.
Related episodes you should like:
Using Solution Tests to Make Sure You're Building Products Users Want (Jim Morris, Founder @ Product Discovery Group)
Getting into the Habit of Continuous Discovery (Teresa Torres, Author "Continuous Discove
Building Great Companies through Community-Led Growth (with Lloyed Lobo, Author "From Grassroots to Greatness")
Lloyed Lobo got his first understanding of the power of community when visiting his grandparents in the Mumbai slums, and watching people come together in his childhood during the Gulf War. He has since turned this into an entrepreneurial superpower and used community-building to catapult his bootstrapped startup into the big time. He's since written a book about all of this stuff called "From Grassroots to Greatness: 13 Rules to Build Iconic Brands with Community-Led Growth". We spoke about the book and many of the topics within.
1. Community is a company strategy, not a marketing strategy
It's not enough to just sit there and layer "community" on top of your existing marketing and expect it to pay back instantly. It has to be part of your company's DNA, something that your customers and your employees can be inspired and motivated by. Attribution is hard, but the results will come.
2. You need to show up for your community or they won't show up for you
You cannot take your community for granted. You need to provide them with constant, consistent value with no immediate expectation of reward. They will keep coming for the value, and you are engineering serendipity for future conversations.
3. Don't be afraid to have the sales conversations
That said, if you don't ask, you don't get. You cannot be afraid of trying to offer paid value to your community, even if it feels uncomfortable to ask. If you are providing value then people will be happy to talk to you. Not everyone will become a customer, but some will. Use the reciprocity bias to your advantage.
4. There is power in finding your niche and sticking to it
Don't try to go too wide chasing vanity metrics. You will get more value out of a smaller community of people who share your exact passions than out of a generic sea of people who couldn't care less. Make sure you identify your people, show up for them, and own your white space.
5. Community can be as much of a moat as technology or industry expertise
There are more communities and products to solve problems for communities than ever before but, if you have the right community, you can use it to your advantage. Having an engaged, passionate community can help prevent your company from becoming a commodity.
Check out "From Grassroots to Greatness"
"In a world where traditional marketing is losing its edge and products are struggling to stand out, a thriving community is your biggest asset. Recognizing that true success lies not in products or technologies, but in the power of people, author Lloyed Lobo explores the intricate art of harnessing the community's strength as your ultimate acquisition channel, brand differentiator, feedback source, retention lever, and catalyst for transformative change."
Check it out on Amazon.
You can catch up with Lloyed on LinkedIn or Instagram.
Harnessing Generative AI to Reimagine the Future of Product Management (with Shyvee Shi, Product Lead @ LinkedIn & Author "Reimagined: Building Products with Generative AI")
Shyvee Shi is a Product Lead at LinkedIn, a community-builder, content creator and educator. She's been making waves through her online courses but she's now co-authored a book, "Reimagined: Building Products with Generative AI", which aims to help all of us survive and thrive in the new normal of AI-powered products. We talked about some of the themes from the book, and why it was important for her to write it.
1. Now is the time for product managers to get into generative AI
Whether you're experimenting with putting it in your own products or using it to turbocharge your product management duties, you need to check out generative AI if you want to stay ahead of the curve. It's not going to replace product managers any time soon, but it can help us dream bigger.
2. If your competitors can use AI to serve your customers better than you, your business could disappear overnight
75% of CEOs are terrified that generative AI will kill their business. It's like the Kodak story on steroids, and it's not even about tankers getting outmanoeuvred by speedboats anymore. Big companies are also getting in on the game and you need to have a response.
3. PMs have a responsibility to concentrate on the problem, not the technology
It's as important as ever for product managers to focus on solving real user problems, no matter what the tech. We can't just slap ChatGPT onto everything and call it a success. Generative AI can help us and our customers in new and interesting ways but we must concentrate on solving their real problems.
4. It can be hard to craft a workable go-to-market plan for AI products
This could be down to falling in love with the technology, struggles with pricing or quality, lack of explainability or poor understanding of your customers' most important jobs to be done. Make sure you're intentional about your go-to-market plan to avoid failure.
5. It can be hard to create moats when using generative AI solutions
So many of these solutions are built on the same back-end, and there are de facto default LLMs. In some cases, startups building on top of things like ChatGPT end up disappearing overnight because OpenAI has developed a new feature of its own. It is possible to create moats through proprietary data, excellent UX and good old-fashioned verticalisation. Make sure you create a moat!
"Did you know that incorporating AI into products is now a pivotal strategy for businesses worldwide? According to a 2023 study from Accenture, a staggering 75% of C-suite executives agree that failure to integrate AI effectively in the next five years could lead to business obsolescence. "Reimagined: Building Products with Generative AI" is your essential guide in this transformative journey. It's not just about understanding AI and Generative AI technologies; it's about strategically harnessing them to drive innovation, team efficiency, and market success.
Check it out on Amazon.
You can catch up with Shyvee on LinkedIn or check out Product Management Reimagined.
Enabling Strategic Product Decisions through Product Operations and Portfolio Management (with Becky Flint, CEO of Dragonboat)
Becky Flint started her career at Paypal and helped build out their portfolio management and product operations functions before product ops was a thing. She's since moved through a variety of startups and larger companies before forming her own firm, Dragonboat, through which she hopes to provide tools to help companies manage product portfolios at scale.
1. Even if you have one product, you might still have a portfolio
People tend to think about a product portfolio, they think about a massive web of products, but even one-product companies may have multiple product managers working on different aspects of the product and these may well still need to be traded off against each other.
2. It's not enough to make strategic decisions, you need to be able to explain them
We're always told to create visions, strategies and roadmaps, but you need to be able to lay these out for a variety of stakeholders and explain them in ways that resonate with them.
3. As soon as you have product management, you have product operations
You may not have a Product Ops team, but someone is doing the product ops work. When you have a small team, maybe you can handle the work but, eventually, you'll need a team to ensure the product teams deliver.
4. All product operations professionals should be comfortable with portfolio management
Going further, product ops professionals who aren't comfortable with managing a portfolio shouldn't be in the job. Product ops people aren't babysitters for the product management team, they're senior, strategic partners.
5. ROI isn't enough to make good strategic decisions for your portfolio
Sometimes, you might not make big, strategic bets with unclear payoffs if you only use financial ROI metrics. You may also make bad resourcing decisions if you don't consider which teams are available when, and not taking account of bundles of value when making trade-offs.
You can connect with Becky on LinkedIn. You can also check out Dragonboat. Alongside their SaaS software, they also have a bunch of available resources.
Nailing your Brand Marketing by Embracing your Zone of Genius (with Orly Zeewy, Brand Strategy Consultant & Author ”Ready, Launch, Brand”)
Orly Zeewy is an experienced marketer who "makes the fuzzy clear". She's passionate about helping startup founders get their branding right, and enabling them to identify their own "zones of genius" where they win. She does this through her consultancy, Zeewy Brands, as well as her book, "Ready, Launch, Brand". We spoke all about the ins and outs of branding, and why startup founders need to rethink marketing.
A message from this episode's sponsor
This episode is sponsored by Succeeding in B2B Product Management, a cohort-based, live course that Saeed Khan and I are launching on Maven in January. If you're a B2B product manager struggling to make an impact, a B2B product leader looking to promote healthy product practices, or a B2B founder looking to get your teams to be true business partners, check the course out here. You can use discount code OKIP to get $100 off the price of admission.
1. Branding is not just a fancy logo and a cool company name
The true definition of a brand is that it is the sum of all experiences that customers have with an organisation over time. Brands don't live in the minds of the company, or its founders. They live in the minds of their customers.
2. Marketing is not just a widget, it's a fundamental cost of running your business, and results take time
Some startup founders either don't bother with marketing at all, or they give up as soon as the first thing they try doesn't work. But, you need to start early and invest for the long term. There are so many brands competing for mindshare and you need to make sure that you remain part of that in an attention-poor market.
3. Your company website is your front door, and you need to explain clearly why people should care about you
It can be pretty common for companies to either ignore their website entirely or try to cram as much information as possible on there and overwhelm potential customers. Your website is likely to be the first touchpoint that a potential customer has with your brand, and you need to clearly and concisely explain why they should care about you.
4. Not everyone has done this work upfront, but it's important to meet people where they are
Yes, it's easier to intercept avoidable problems before they occur, but there are plenty of good conversations you can have whatever the situation within the company. It's never too late to try to make a difference, and you can find that the entire company will get energised and rally to the cause once you've put the work in to define what the cause really is.
5. People, and organisations, have Zones of Genius and they should focus and stay in their lane
It can be really common for founders and solopreneurs to try to solve every problem for everyone because they're interested in everything and they think that it will increase their chances of success. But, if you can find the thing you're uniquely good at and focus your efforts there then you have a much higher chance of sticking in someone's mind and being their go-to solution for that specific problem.
Buy "Ready, Launch, Brand"
"You may be familiar with the Silicon Valley expression about the iterative approach to software development, "We’re learning to fly the plane while we’re building it." If so, think of a startup―with all its moving parts, phases, and personalities―as flying a plane, while you’re building it, booking passengers, marketing the airline, interviewing co-pilots, and serving coffee. In this book, Orly Zeewy navigates the turbulence and provides a flight plan so you know when you’ve landed in the right airport."
Check it out on Amazon.
You can catch up with Orly on LinkedIn or visit Zeewy Brands.
Jason is an excellent interviewer who gets valuable information/key points while still keeping things conversational. Each episode's filled with real insights and actionable advice. Highly recommend that you subscribe and listen to this show!
Improve as a Product Person by Listening to This!
Marty Cagan, Jackie Bavaro… and then a year of amazing insights. Jason is crushing the game with this podcast. Listen to grow faster in your career.
Fresh and Inspiring!
Jason has done an excellent job putting together this podcast. I get pulled into the conversation with he and his guests, and I’ve enjoyed each episode I’ve listened to. Would definitely recommend giving this podcast a try if you’re in or want to be in product management