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 PMs as Scapegoats, Breaking Hard News to Developers, and Sunsetting Products
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about how to handle the unfortunate reality that oftentimes product managers are blamed for things out of their control, how to communicate to engineers when it’s time to pivot off of a project they’ve devoted a lot of time and effort towards, and how to build a shiny new product without completely disregarding all of the learnings from the original one.
Q: What should your course of action be if you perceive yourself a scapegoat position in product management?
Q: Have you ever had to pause a tool or product? Do you have any frameworks when making such decisions? To what degree is it my responsibility to communicate this as opposed to senior management?
Q: How can we use our current product to help us build a better replacement?
Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Defining Outcomes Over Output with Josh Seiden
Josh Seiden is Melissa Perri’s guest on this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Josh is a consultant and bestselling author of Lean UX, Sense and Respond, and his latest book, Outcomes Over Output: Why Customer Behavior Is the Key Metric for Business Success. In this week’s show, he and Melissa explore why saying “outcomes over outputs” is a lot easier than actually committing to it in practice, measurable outcomes, correlation versus causation, the problem with getting fixated on process, and how to keep your team focused on outcomes as a leader.
Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Josh talk about:
One of the challenges companies face that prevents them from becoming outcome-centric is the legacy of how they manage their work, Josh says.
“Change in human behavior creates value, which helps us to take a huge step forward.”
Josh advises that you build a logic model with impact and outcome. Identify the leading and lagging indicators that help you determine if your business model could be successful.
Teams get so fixated on processes or methods that they don’t look at the big picture in what they’re trying to achieve and the whole ecosystem of their market. What data is out there already so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel?
The surprising power of the words, “just tell me a story…” to help shift focus to data and figuring out what outcomes to go after.
Josh talks about the success of the book and what he might add to a second edition.
Josh says that most companies need to develop a risk-tolerant, psychologically safe environment, where employees are allowed to experiment freely to find what works best for the company.
Josh Seiden on LinkedIn
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Competitive Analysis, Stage Gates, and Aligning Around Lofty Goals
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about ways to research and stay on top of the market in order to conduct a thorough competitive analysis, when adopting a Stage Gate process makes sense and how to design it, and how to organize teams around the product strategy framework.
Q: What tips do you have for competitor analysis?
Q: What is your experience with Stage Gate? Am I just being stubborn and intractable by thinking that adopting Stage Gate is the opposite of creating a product-led organization? Or, for example, a risk-led organization?
Q: In your experience, would it make sense for each squad to have its own challenge, or should there be one or two challenges for the entire product area?
Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Finding Agility Through Psychological Safety with Tara Scott
Melissa Perri interviews Tara Scott at the Agile 2022 Conference on this week’s episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Tara is an experienced product coach and organizational behavior design coach who specializes in psychological safety, which is the ability to speak up in the workplace without fear of negative consequences. Tara tells Melissa how experiences in her own family led her to this important line of work, how she realized psychological safety could actually help increase organizational agility, what happens when a company isn’t psychologically safe, why having a “work” version of you is actually harmful, the inevitable uncomfortable moments that come with creating a safer work environment, particularly for leadership, and more.
Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Tara talk about:
Tara talks about her own background and what led her to teach psychological safety.
Tara assesses the psychological safety of an organization by conducting individual conversations with the team.
If you feel like you have to micromanage your employees, it probably means that you don't feel safe giving them the freedom to do their jobs. This can be damaging to your team's morale and productivity.
Tara advises that leaders should “lead with curiosity as opposed to leading with questions” as this would create positive interactions with employees and allow them to feel psychologically safe.
Open communication, diversity and inclusion, willingness to help and willingness to ask for help, and attitudes towards risk and failure are the four metrics used to measure if a work environment is psychologically safe.
Tara explains that when employees are more relaxed and laugh, it is a sign that the work environment is becoming more psychologically safe. Another indicator is when team leaders work actively to create a psychologically safe environment.
Tara suggests that every morning, remote teams should sit around before work and just talk to each other – get to know each other and become comfortable hearing your own voice. This promotes psychological safety within the team.
As an executive, if you're noticing your organization becoming psychologically unsafe you can introduce an optional virtual coffee, where your employees can join for 15 minutes to relax and have conversations with co-workers.
Tara Scott on LinkedIn
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Picking Up Bad Habits, Prioritizing Inbound Requests, and How Product fits in with IT and Project Management
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about the importance of hiring a more experienced product leader to help more junior product managers steer clear of bad product habits, how to organize and manage an influx of ideas from different stakeholders, why product shouldn’t be part of the IT organization, and where project managers fit in a product led team.
Q: What are the chances of a junior PM unintentionally developing unhealthy habits without the ongoing regular guidance of an experienced PM? What are key signals that might indicate it's time for me to ask my leadership team to bring in a product leader?
Q: Any tips for setting up a structure for managing ideas?
Q: Why shouldn’t product be part of the IT organization? What are the key talking points you would hit when trying to convince the company that products should be its own organization?
Q: Does project management or the business analyst role belong in a product lead or empowered product team? If a large company is undergoing a transformation, where would you see people who have traditionally played the role of project manager or BA succeed?
Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Driving Portfolio Management with Becky Flint
Melissa Perri welcomes Becky Flint to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Becky is the Founder and CEO of Dragonboat, the responsive portfolio platform for product and technology leaders, and is an expert in outcome-focused product practice and operations. Becky joins Melissa to discuss how she recognized the need for a portfolio management tool like Dragonboat, why portfolio management should be adopted by any size team, common pitfalls in early portfolio management, why it’s the next iteration of agile, and how to implement a portfolio management practice into an organization.
Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Becky talk about:
Becky’s journey into product and how Dragonboat came about.
Portfolio management is not just for large companies or about how you create a hierarchy. It’s about how you make a decision across the product organization to support various needs and lenses of the business.
Product operations ensures that people work at a consistent output - this consistency needs to be to an extent where effective decision making can happen.
Melissa asks Becky about some mistakes people make with portfolio management. “When people think about portfolio management, they usually think about hierarchy,” Becky shares. “The challenge with hierarchy is that it’s static - once your business changes, you’re stuck. People forget the problem they’re trying to solve with the business when they spend so much time trying to figure out a hierarchy.”
When companies started out trying to do agile and Scrum purely by the book, they encountered many difficulties because there was so much learning, evolving and adapting involved in those processes.
You don’t need to roll out portfolios in every facet of your company - that would be way too time-consuming and tedious if you have multiple products. Rather, you can start in a few product areas. “Take one or two teams who are ready for change and start to apply portfolio management to areas that are somewhat independent,” Becky advises.
No one can build a product alone, and no one can take it to market alone.
Becky and Melissa discuss why the role of Chief Product Officer is necessary. Becky says, “Having a leader driving the vision and strategy and enabling the team actually innovates and creates ideas, and makes them able to deliver.”
Becky Flint on the Web | LinkedIn | Twitter
I listen to a lot of product podcasts and this is the gold standard: challenging, interesting, informative, and usable. Melissa has an accessible yet direct and professional style and always has compelling guests. Check it out!
My Go To Profesional Development Pod
This is a great podcast for any product manager, aspiring product manager, or really anyone working with PMs. I value Melissa’s insight and advice. I love the guests she brings on and the conversations they have. It’s a great way to inspire and take actions at work to be a better PM.
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!