Product Thinking
Identifying Patterns in Product with John Cutler
November 3, 2021
John Cutler is the Head of Product Education at Amplitude. He is a product evangelist & coach, who has spent his career wrangling complex problems and answering the ‘why’ with quantitative data. He joins Melissa Perri on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast to talk about the importance of product education and getting in your product “reps”, and the types of product patterns he’s discovered after working across industries.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and John talk about in this episode: A product evangelist acts as the public face of a company and connects with the people who use its products in unique ways. Product evangelists bridge the gap of need for education advocacy, helping teams see the future direction that they're going in, and product therapy. [2:04] Product people tend to follow common patterns and principles when it comes to transformation approaches, but how they apply these principles can be different depending on the culture. [6:08] How to pivot to transform an organization must be tailored to the position the company is in. [9:23] Sometimes product people just need to empower their teams. However, there are often systems in place that prevent this. "If you go into an organization that isn't really aligned in a way to allow agency, where there is low confidence among the teams, a lot of dependencies between the teams, and maybe they don't have the way to see if what they're doing is working... no amount of empowerment will help," John tells Melissa. [11:40]  A lot of organizations have people at the head who have had experience in the digital and processing development department, but they have not worked on a team in modern ways of working. They can intellectualize it, John says, but they can't feel it in their bones. [15:11] Melissa talks about product people not being able to recognize product patterns and see how technology can completely change your product. They can't comprehend rethinking the way they approach product, or they don't consider platform approaches. "You can take the strategy of a different SAAS company from the product architecture and how they deliver value, and use the things that work in your company but just refine it and it's those types of things that I feel like are missing," Melissa says. [17:43] People who have been doing product for a while may underappreciate how many signals and tacit knowledge that have been acquired over the decades. Because of this, communicating with someone who hasn't had those signals can be frustrating. It's important to step back and think about how you learned what you learned when trying to teach other people. [21:25] John talks about some of the core strategies of product leadership. [26:18] Before teams decide to move on to strategy, they should do a simple linear regression and analyze the who, what, where, when, and why of their product. Then start layering complexities and uncertainties. John describes a system he's created called Mandate Levels. [30:31] Not everyone in the product world is fortunate to have job mobility, so organizations need to create an environment that gets outcomes going. [33:51] Sometimes product people believe they're empowering their teams but they're not being sensitive and empathetic to the lives of their employees. How a product manager shapes the mission is important because it can leave enough room for people to take risks. [40:15] Product managers must be clear and honest with themselves before they begin to implement change. They need to connect with their organizations and find the kernel of opportunity. [43:53] Resources John Cutler | LinkedIn | Twitter | Articles Amplitude John Cutler’s Product Org Expertise
John Cutler is the Head of Product Education at Amplitude. He is a product evangelist & coach, who has spent his career wrangling complex problems and answering the ‘why’ with quantitative data. He joins Melissa Perri on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast to talk about the importance of product education and getting in your product “reps”, and the types of product patterns he’s discovered after working across industries.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and John talk about in this episode: A product evangelist acts as the public face of a company and connects with the people who use its products in unique ways. Product evangelists bridge the gap of need for education advocacy, helping teams see the future direction that they're going in, and product therapy. [2:04] Product people tend to follow common patterns and principles when it comes to transformation approaches, but how they apply these principles can be different depending on the culture. [6:08] How to pivot to transform an organization must be tailored to the position the company is in. [9:23] Sometimes product people just need to empower their teams. However, there are often systems in place that prevent this. "If you go into an organization that isn't really aligned in a way to allow agency, where there is low confidence among the teams, a lot of dependencies between the teams, and maybe they don't have the way to see if what they're doing is working... no amount of empowerment will help," John tells Melissa. [11:40]  A lot of organizations have people at the head who have had experience in the digital and processing development department, but they have not worked on a team in modern ways of working. They can intellectualize it, John says, but they can't feel it in their bones. [15:11] Melissa talks about product people not being able to recognize product patterns and see how technology can completely change your product. They can't comprehend rethinking the way they approach product, or they don't consider platform approaches. "You can take the strategy of a different SAAS company from the product architecture and how they deliver value, and use the things that work in your company but just refine it and it's those types of things that I feel like are missing," Melissa says. [17:43] People who have been doing product for a while may underappreciate how many signals and tacit knowledge that have been acquired over the decades. Because of this, communicating with someone who hasn't had those signals can be frustrating. It's important to step back and think about how you learned what you learned when trying to teach other people. [21:25] John talks about some of the core strategies of product leadership. [26:18] Before teams decide to move on to strategy, they should do a simple linear regression and analyze the who, what, where, when, and why of their product. Then start layering complexities and uncertainties. John describes a system he's created called Mandate Levels. [30:31] Not everyone in the product world is fortunate to have job mobility, so organizations need to create an environment that gets outcomes going. [33:51] Sometimes product people believe they're empowering their teams but they're not being sensitive and empathetic to the lives of their employees. How a product manager shapes the mission is important because it can leave enough room for people to take risks. [40:15] Product managers must be clear and honest with themselves before they begin to implement change. They need to connect with their organizations and find the kernel of opportunity. [43:53] Resources John Cutler | LinkedIn | Twitter | Articles Amplitude John Cutler’s Product Org Expertise

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