40 min

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

    • Careers

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

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