Product Thinking
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.
Episode 175: Evolution of Product Management and the Importance of Diverse Backgrounds with Ryan Johnson of CallRail
June 12, 2024 • 48 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri welcomes Ryan to the show to discuss product strategy, communication, and innovation within a company. Ryan has over 15 years of diverse technology and product development leadership experience and currently serves as the Chief Product Officer at CallRail.
Episode 174: Integrating AI & Transforming Workflows with Anthony Maggio, VP & Head of Product at Airtable
June 5, 2024 • 43 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri is joined by Anthony Maggio, Head of Product and VP at Airtable. Join them as they discuss combating challenges within the digital supply chain, addressing strategy drift, and how Anthony is spearheading Airtable’s newest: Airtable AI.
Episode 173: Building a Healthy Failure Culture for Innovation and Learning with Amy Edmondson, Professor at Harvard
May 29, 2024 • 44 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri is joined by Amy Edmonson, professor at Harvard Business school and author of the new book: “Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well.” Join them as they discuss the science of failing well, what is psychological safety and the distinction between leadership and leaders.
Episode 172: The Power of Culture: Unlocking High Performance in Your Company with Mark McNally, Chief Nobody at Nobody Studios
May 22, 2024 • 46 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri is joined by Mark McNally, a venture innovator who founded Nobody Studios, a startup incubator on the path to creating 100 compelling companies in the next 5 years. Join them as they discuss the fundamentals of building successful companies, the importance of culture, and the role of venture studios in supporting founders.
Episode 171: Applying Military Tactics to Strategy Execution with Author Stephen Bungay
May 15, 2024 • 62 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri is joined by Stephen Bungay, author of The Art of Action and former Director of the Ashridge Strategic Management Centre. Join them as they explore Stephen’s approach to strategy execution. They discuss the common struggles in strategy execution and how to overcome them in your product management team.
Episode 170: Unlocking the Future with the Power of Alignment with Margaret Jastrebski, SVP of Product at Tegus
May 8, 2024 • 49 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri is joined by Margaret Jastrebski, the SVP of Product at Tegus. Join them as they explore what it means to be a leader today. They discuss Margaret’s role at Tegus, the power of alignment within an organization, understanding sales and marketing, and the importance of a vision for execution.
Episode 169: How Balancing Vulnerability with Ability is the Secret to Great Leadership with Author, Jacob Morgan
May 1, 2024 • 42 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri is joined by Jacob Morgan, author of “Leading with Vulnerability.” Join them as they explore what it means to be a leader today. They discuss Jacob’s personal journey to vulnerability, balancing vulnerability and competency, the importance of being self aware and many actionables to be a better overall leader.
Episode 168: Cutting the Fat after a Crisis with Alex Wattrelos, Previous CPO of Sunday
April 24, 2024 • 44 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri is joined by Alex Wettrelos Chief Product Officer at Sunday. Join them as they explore the challenges of rapid scaling and then descaling during the 2022 tech-crisis. They discuss how Sunday, a fintech company innovating payment methods across the hospitality industry, went from an idea on a slide deck to 450 employees with $124 million of seed funding. They also touch on the differences between product management in Europe & the US.
Episode 167: How to Use More Than 10% of Your Company's Brain with Aaron Smith, Chief Product Officer
April 17, 2024 • 45 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Aaron Smith joins Melissa Perri. Together, they discuss Aaron’s best practices he learned from his time at Amazon, key leadership principles, creating a culture of accountability, and the destiny creator mindset.
Episode 166: Building Products and Riding the Wave of Cutting Edge AI with Darren Wilson, CPO of Soul Machines
April 10, 2024 • 41 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri is joined by Darren Wilson, Chief Product Officer of Soul Machines. Join them as they explore Darren’s journey to CPO of Soul Machines, a company that produces digital humanoids. They discuss the challenges of building digital avatars, keeping up with AI technology, and leveraging user feedback to shape product strategies.
Episode 165: The Story of SpotHero & Breaking into Product Management with Matt DiBari, Chief Product Officer
April 3, 2024 • 38 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Matt DiBari joins Melissa Perri to discover the secrets of product management in high growth companies. Together, they discuss effective user research, the different mindsets in B2B & B2C, essential skills in high growth companies, and breaking into product management.
Episode 164: Positioning Yourself for a Chief Product Officer Role with the CEO & Co-Founder at Artico Search
March 27, 2024 • 46 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Mercedes Chatfield-Taylor, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer at Artico Search, joins Melissa Perri. Together, they discuss navigating the hiring landscape for Chief Product Officers, the importance of technical expertise and commercial acumen in today's market, and what the difference is between a Head of Product and a Chief Product Officer.
Episode 163: A Mold-Breaking IPO and the Power to Redefine CPO & CTO's Role with Tim Armandpour at PagerDuty
March 20, 2024 • 46 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Tim Armandpour, Chief Technology Officer at PagerDuty, joins Melissa Perri to explore leadership qualities, product & technology roles, their challenges, and the importance of an overarching company vision. They discuss user-centricity, product-market fit, and aligning teams.
Episode 162: Product Roadmap: Building a Platform for the Next Decade with Craig Saldanha, Chief Product Officer at Yelp
March 13, 2024 • 41 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Craig Saldanha, Chief Product Officer at Yelp, joins Melissa Perri to explore user research, two-sided marketplaces, and the concept of the flywheel. They discuss future-proofing the business, building customer trust, and Yelp’s importance as a platform for reviews and recommendations.
Episode 161: Nurturing a Successful Startup Accelerator with Paolo Lombardi, Founder of Techpeaks
March 6, 2024 • 62 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Paolo Lombardi joins Melissa Perri to explore founding the TechPeaks startup accelerator—they discuss the unique aspects of the program, including its focus on attracting international entrepreneurs and promoting collaboration, and the importance of planning and preparation.
Episode 160: The Value of Flexibility in Hybrid Work & Product Management: Jon Sadow Shares Scoop's Approach
February 28, 2024 • 44 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri is joined by Jon Sadow, Co-Founder & Chief Product & Technology Officer of Scoop Technologies. Join them as they discuss Scoop’s journey from a carpooling application to a software company supporting hybrid work and workplace management. They explore the dramatic impact of COVID, pivoting the business, and the benefits of embracing flexibility. They also touch on the importance of building relationships and forging connections in remote and flexible work environments, as well as the future of work and the possibilities for innovation and improvement in remote and hybrid work environments.
Episode 159: Fueling Product-Led Growth with Leah Tharin, Interim Chief Product and Growth Officer, GotPhoto
February 21, 2024 • 57 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri is joined by Leah Tharin, Interim Chief Product and Growth Officer, GotPhoto. Join them as they explore the different types of growth strategies and when to use them, as well as the importance of aligning sales and product teams. Leah also talks about the power of data-driven strategies in bridging sales and product teams and how aligning with customer success fuels product-led growth.
Episode 158: Turning the Tide with Mauricio Monico's Lessons from eBay, Facebook, and Google
February 14, 2024 • 59 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri is joined by Mauricio Monico, Chief Product Officer at Wish. Join them as they discuss marketplace dynamics and turnaround strategies. They deep-dive into Mauricio’s extensive product management expertise and wisdom gained from his previous roles with Microsoft, eBay, Facebook, Google, and various startups. They also touch on Mauricio’s time with Indigo Ag, a company focused on agricultural sustainability, during a big turnaround.
Episode 157: Aligning Pricing with Value in the Technology Space: Insights from Jean-Manuel Izaret of Boston Consulting Group
February 7, 2024 • 51 MIN
In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, host Melissa Perri is joined by Jean-Manuel Izaret, Global Leader of Marketing, Sales, and Pricing Practice at Boston Consulting Group. Join them as they discuss strategic pricing and its importance in the technology industry. They explore different pricing models and strategies, including segmenting users and offering different pricing options based on the value received. They also touch upon the challenges of pricing AI models and the concept of fairness in pricing.
Episode 156: OKRs for Focus and Alignment with Jeff Gothelf of & Josh Seiden of Seiden Consulting
January 31, 2024 • 46 MIN
In this episode of Product thinking, Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden join Melissa Perri to talk about their exciting new book on OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). They tackle common mistakes made when implementing frameworks like Lean UX, and how OKRs can solve this. Plus they share all the insights they’ve learned over the last 10 years since their first book, Lean UX. Tune in to discover how OKRs improve your business, business unit, or team’s overall focus and alignment.
Episode 155: Mastering the Art of Coaching in Product Leadership with Kate Leto, an Executive Coach for Product Leaders
January 24, 2024 • 48 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Kate Leto, an Executive Coach for Product Leaders, joins Melissa Perri to unveil the value of coaching skills for product leaders and how to incorporate coaching into the workplace. They explore the difference between coaching and mentoring, how effective coaching nurtures successful product leaders, and how to master the art of coaching in product management.
Episode 154: Breaking the Boardroom Barrier with Tommy Richardson, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Litmos
January 17, 2024 • 44 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Tommy Richardson, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Litmos, joins Melissa Perri to unveil what it’s like to move from an operating role as a C-Suite executive to a board role and how to position yourself to work with Private Equity and VC firms.
Episode 153: Decoding the DNA of Successful Product Management with Quincy Hunte, Global Transformation Product Leader at Amazon Web Services
January 10, 2024 • 64 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Quincy Hunte, Global Transformation Product Leader at Amazon Web Services, joins Melissa Perri to dive into the world of product management, operations, and transformation. They explore key components such as decision-making, product leadership, innovation, and outcome-based funding.
Episode 152: The Evolution of Agile: A Conversation with Joshua of Industrial Logic
January 3, 2024 • 46 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking: Joshua Keievsky, Founder and CEO of Industrial Logic, joins Melissa Perri to discuss the evolution of Agility in business. Josh talks through his fantastic new book ‘The Joy of Agility’ and the six mantras he’s identified in the implementation of Agile working into business strategy, and the case studies he discovered and learned from along the way.
Episode 151: Reflections and Revelations: Best of 2023
December 27, 2023 • 13 MIN
In this special episode of Product Thinking, host Melissa Perri takes a look back at what we have learned from some of our top guests across product management, operations, and leadership.
Episode 150: The Evolution of Growth Hacking and Product Management in SaaS with Hiten Shah, Co-founder and CEO at Nira
December 20, 2023 • 50 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Hiten Shah, Co-founder and CEO at Nira, joins Melissa Perri in the evolution of growth hacking and product management in the SaaS world. Hiten unveils the true purpose of growth hacking, modern marketing misconceptions around growth hacking and product-led growth, as well as the challenge of reconciling differing interpretations of the term Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in agile and business startup contexts.
Episode 149: Fueling Small Business Growth with Kelsey Ruger, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Hello Alice
December 13, 2023 • 40 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Kelsey Ruger, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Hello Alice, joins Melissa Perri to discuss the importance of supporting small businesses. They dive into the triad of tech, UX, and business strategy; key insights for mastering product management in startups; and how to empower small businesses for entrepreneurial success.
Episode 148: Building a Winning SaaS Startup with Indus Khaitan, CEO and Founder of Quolum
December 6, 2023 • 56 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Indus Khaitan, CEO and Founder of Quolum, joins Melissa Perri to share his experiences as a serial SaaS entrepreneur. They delve into startup funding and team member-building strategies, as well as how to find a co-founder that will complement your skills.
Episode 147: Empowering Workforce Development with Raluca Apostol, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Nestor
November 29, 2023 • 51 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Raluca Apostol, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Nestor, joins Melissa Perri to unveil how a people intelligence platform like Nestor empowers workforce development and helps managers build better teams. They also explore Nestor's innovative approach to skills-based talent management, the advancement of HR practices, and the role of AI in big data for effective skill matching.
Episode 146: Building Your Next B2B SaaS Unicorn with Mikita Mikado, Co-Founder and CEO of PandaDoc
November 22, 2023 • 38 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Mikita Mikado, Co-Founder and CEO of PandaDoc, joins Melissa Perri to share his entrepreneurial journey and the challenges he faced in building PandaDoc. Mikita also highlights the importance of working with talented people in the B2B SaaS world, embracing a growth mindset, and creating a strong organizational culture.
Episode 145: The Responsible Tech Revolution with Tanya Johnson, Chief Product Officer at Auror
November 15, 2023 • 44 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Tanya Johnson, Chief Product Officer at Auror, joins Melissa Perri to explore the importance of responsible and ethical use of tech and AI. They unveil the essence of ethical product development, embracing responsibility and diversity across product teams; explore strategies for building authentic diversity in tech teams; and share Auror’s framework for responsible tech and AI.
Episode 144: Banking 2.0 or How to Drive Change and Scale in Financial Organizations with Anish Bhimani, Managing Director and Chief Product Officer at JPMorgan Chase, Commercial Banking
November 8, 2023 • 48 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Anish Bhimani, Managing Director and Chief Product Officer at JPMorgan Chase, Commercial Banking joins Melissa Perri to share his insights on how product managers can scale and lead digital transformation in commercial banking. They explore the importance of building a customer-centric culture, the challenges of shifting to an outcome-driven mindset, and JP Morgan's digital evolution by mixing innovation and tradition.
Episode 143: Harnessing the Power of Wireframes with Ellen Chisa, Partner at boldstart ventures, and Leon Barnard, Education Team Lead at Balsamiq
November 1, 2023 • 45 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, product experts Ellen Chisa, Partner at boldstart ventures, and Leon Barnard, Education Team Lead at Balsamiq, join Melissa Perri to discuss the importance of wireframing in product development. They explore the collaborative power of wireframes in product teams, using wireframes as conversation starters, and the benefits of designers having front-end coding knowledge for efficient product outcomes.
Episode 142: Mastering Data-Driven Product Management with Bethany Lyons, Chief Product Officer at KAWA Analytics
October 25, 2023 • 41 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Bethany Lyons, Chief Product Officer at KAWA Analytics, joins Melissa Perri to unveil the role of a data-driven product manager in early-stage startups. They explore the world of operational intelligence, the importance of identifying high-demand customers, and the balance between pioneering and optimization in startups. Bethany also touches on the crucial aspects of seamless onboarding during early-stage product development and highlights the significance of choosing the right customers when scaling.
Episode 141: Building a Global Product Powerhouse with Jag Duggal, Chief Product Officer at Nubank
October 18, 2023 • 39 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Jag Duggal, Chief Product Officer at Nubank, joins Melissa Perri to unravel the process of building a strong global product management team in a fast-growing business. They also dive into the importance of customer obsession, challenges in talent acquisition, and the power of documented principles in scaling businesses.
Episode 140: When Product Meets Customer Success, Miracles Happen with Bryan House, Chief Experience Officer at Elastic Path
October 11, 2023 • 37 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Bryan House, Chief Experience Officer at Elastic Path, joins Melissa Perri to explore the close collaboration between product and customer success in building a customer-centric organization.
Episode 139: Why Startups Fail and How You Can Avoid That with Tom Eisenmann, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School
October 4, 2023 • 57 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Tom Eisenmann, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, joins Melissa Perri to dive into "Why Startups Fail," his transformative book. Specifically, they dive into the inspiration of the book, six unique types of startup failures and how to avoid them, as well as strategies for hiring your first product manager.
Episode 138: Strategies for Product Management in Fresh Markets with Chris Andrews, Chief Operating Officer and Head of Product at Rendered.AI
September 27, 2023 • 40 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Chris Andrews, Chief Operating Officer and Head of Product at Rendered.AI, joins Melissa Perri to unveil the challenges and strategies involved in building products in new markets, as well as the unique aspects of product management in these markets. They discuss how product managers can introduce new market opportunities, the role of product management in new markets versus saturated ones, securing success in early-stage ventures, and navigating innovation in larger organizations.
Episode 137: Answering Questions About Platform Product Management and What That Means
September 20, 2023 • 20 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about platform product management, including the challenges of re-platforming products at the enterprise level; the fundamental differences between end-user product management and technical product management; and the significance of product discovery in platform teams.
Episode 136: From College Choices to Education Empire with Luke Skurman, CEO of Niche
September 13, 2023 • 48 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Luke Skurman, CEO of Niche, joins Melissa Perri to explore the incredible story of Niche's journey from helping students choose the right college to become a successful company in the education industry. They dive into Niche's first years, how the company adapted to the changing landscape, raised funds, and achieved rapid growth when it switched from a survival mindset to a growth mindset.
Episode 135: Answering Questions About Structuring Product Management Teams and Pivoting from Sales to Product-Led Growth
September 6, 2023 • 22 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about structuring product management teams for complicated portfolios such as medical devices and having software digital products, moving from sales-led to product-led, and capacity planning for teams.
Episode 134: Unpacking Doodle's Growth Strategy with Stephanie Leue, Chief Product Officer at Doodle
August 30, 2023 • 41 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Stephanie Leue, Chief Product Officer at Doodle, joins Melissa Perri to navigate the challenges and opportunities of transitioning from a free to a subscription-based model, the importance of a strong organizational support system, and the role of data in decision-making. They also shed light on Stephanie's leadership and focus on people, purpose, process, and performance that have helped Doodle navigate complex product challenges and achieve growth.
Episode 133: Perfecting UX Personalization with Michelle Parsons of Product School
August 23, 2023 • 41 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Michelle Parsons, Product Executive in Residence at Product School, joins Melissa Perri to share what makes a stellar consumer product, the challenges of implementing user personalization, and Michelle's experiences at big consumer names like Spotify and Netflix. They also delve into the role of personalization in the dating app Hinge and its mission to create meaningful connections.
Episode 132: Simplicity by Design for Product Development with Jason Fried, Co-founder and CEO of 37signals
August 16, 2023 • 48 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Jason Fried, Co-founder and CEO of 37signals, joins Melissa Perri to explore the importance of simplicity in product design, saying no to customer requests, designing for profitability, and running a successful business while maintaining work-life balance.
Episode 131: Answering Questions About Product ROI, Metrics, and Market Analysis
August 9, 2023 • 16 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about product ROI techniques, how we relate our product metrics to our financial metrics, buying versus building a product, and how you can get realistic market size estimates for your team.
Episode 130: Product Management in the AI Era with Hubert Palan, Founder and CEO of Productboard
August 2, 2023 • 44 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Hubert Palan, Founder and CEO of Productboard, joins Melissa Perri to dive into the ever-changing role of product management and how it is influencing the technology industry. They also touch upon current events in the tech world, including AI, and how they may be shaping product management practices.
Episode 129: Answering Questions About Product Management Career and the Difference Between a Product and a Feature
July 26, 2023 • 17 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about how to get your dream PM job, resources for young product managers, and how to determine if a project is a standalone product or a set of features.
Episode 128: Scaling Product Operations with Blake Samic, Former Global Head of Product Operations at Stripe and Uber
July 19, 2023 • 60 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Blake Samic, Former Global Head of Product Operations at Stripe, joins Melissa Perri to discuss the evolution and importance of product operations, the role of product ops in supporting product management teams, and the strategies employed to build successful teams and improve the product experience.
Episode 127: Answering Questions About Digital Transformations
July 12, 2023 • 31 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about digital transformation, including how to set up a successful digital strategy for a Fortune 500 company, how to keep your digital transformation under control without pushing it too far, and how to transition product owners into product managers.
Episode 126: Unleashing the Power of AI in Product Management and Cybersecurity with Steve Wilson, Chief Product Officer at Contrast Security
July 5, 2023 • 39 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Steve Wilson, Chief Product Officer at Contrast Security, joins Melissa Perri to explore the dynamic world of product management. They dive into the intersection of customer demands and technological shifts, how to harness the power of AI in product management, the integration of AI and Machine Learning for enhanced cybersecurity, and how product managers can meet both user needs and security requirements.
Episode 125: Answering Questions About Creating, Managing, and Redeveloping a Product
June 28, 2023 • 20 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about developing the strategy for a new product, managing legacy products when you are a product owner, and redeveloping an existing product.
Episode 124: How Integral Are Tough Skills For the Development of Product Managers?
June 21, 2023 • 40 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Melissa Perri talks with Glen Stoffel and Caryn Fried, the Co-Founders of Camp4. They talk all about tough skills for product managers such as emotional intelligence; how to deal with stakeholders; how to communicate with the rest of your team; as well as some great facilitation techniques so that you can get the work done! Both Glen and Caryn are the Co-Founders of Camp4, an organization bringing together the world’s leading sales practitioners to advise and accelerate the growth of the next generation of Salesforce innovators. Glen is also the Co-Founder of Think it Done, and previously held leadership roles at Bluewolf, an IBM company. Caryn is both the Co-Founder and CEO at Camp4, and Co-Founded Think it Done with Glen before leaving in 2020. The two have worked together closely for years and we can’t wait for you to hear their stories and gain some super actionable insights into product management and team facilitation.
Episode 123: Navigating Conflicting Methodologies in Product Management with Melissa Perri
June 14, 2023 • 31 MIN
In this episode, Melissa answers questions on navigating conflicting methodologies, the importance of hiring a skilled product manager, and achieving strategic alignment and execution in large enterprise companies with multiple product lines and strategies. She further delves into the importance of standardizing processes, such as product strategy cadence, roadmaps, and discovery toolkits, to facilitate coordination and collaboration. To find out how Dear Melissa is helping build the perfect product management company, head to Dear Melissa.
Episode 122: Mastering the Art of Product-Led Growth: Effective Strategies for a Self-Selling Product
June 7, 2023 • 46 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Melissa Perri talks with Wes Bush, CEO of ProductLed. They explore the art of product-led growth and share effective strategies for building a product that sells itself. Wes Bush is the renowned author of "Product-Led Growth: How To Build a Product That Sells Itself." He asserts that, over the past several years, the way we buy software has undergone a transformative shift. Businesses must lead with their product and allow potential customers to experience its value firsthand. Product-Led Growth provides the framework for businesses to adapt to this new era of customer-driven decision-making. It's not just a trend or buzzword but an actionable business strategy that enables companies to succeed in this new business landscape. With Wes Bush's guidance and expertise, businesses can learn to build products that sell themselves and position themselves for long-term success.
Episode 121: Answering Questions About How to Deal with Development Teams and Leaders and Balance Product Strategy, Bug Fixes, and Minor Improvements
May 31, 2023 • 15 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about dealing with technology teams and leaders and how to balance the team's effort between the things that are the focus of your current product strategy, bug fixing, and minor improvements.
Episode 120: Navigating Product Transformations and Developing High-Performance Product Teams: a Blueprint for Success in Large Organizations
May 24, 2023 • 46 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Melissa Perri talks with Deba Sahoo, SVP and Head of Product at Fidelity Investments. They discuss all product transformations and how to develop a high-performance product team in large organizations. Deba is an accomplished Chief Product Officer and product management executive with extensive experience in the Financial Services and FinTech industry. He is a passionate advocate, thought leader, and sought-after speaker on product leadership, digital transformation, and product management. Deba's dedication and innovation in product leadership have earned him global recognition. Recently, he was recognized among the Top 20 most influential and innovative CPOs worldwide by Products that Count, the largest network of product managers in the world.
Episode 119: Answering Questions About Scaling Product Teams When You Are the Leader, How R&D Helps the Product Team, and How to Effectively Transition From a Consultancy Into a Product Company
May 17, 2023 • 16 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about how to stay on top of what is going on in a scaling team when you are the product leader, how R&D differs from product management, as well as how you can transition from a consultancy into a product company.
Episode 118: From Zero to Angel: How to Get Started in Angel Investing and Spot the Next Unicorn
May 10, 2023 • 45 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Melissa Perri talks with Brian Nichols, Angel Squad Co-Founder of Hustle Fund. They dive into the world of angel investing, discussing the most effective strategies to invest and what to look for in assessing an early-stage startup. Brian has an impressive track record of entrepreneurship and corporate leadership. Upon earning his master's degree from USC, he launched two successful ventures, Date Simply and He then joined Lyft in 2014, where he spearheaded the growth of the California Markets, which accounted for a staggering fifty percent of all Lyft rides at the time. During his tenure at Lyft, he played a key role in scaling the company's local teams nationwide, contributing to the expansion of Lyft's employee count from 250 to 2,500. Brian continued his professional journey by founding the Lyft Alumni Angel Syndicate, a network that comprises numerous early Lyft employees. Before joining Hustle Fund, Brian held positions at esteemed companies such as On Deck, BlackBird, and Zoox, where he undoubtedly contributed his expertise and skills to further their success.
Episode 117: Answering Questions About Successful Career Changes and Managing People Efficiently
May 3, 2023 • 19 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about how to choose the best product career path, escape your career trap, and why a product manager can become a senior faster in a startup.
Episode 116: Beyond the Basics: Non-Traditional Approaches to Product Management and Leadership with Yasi Baiani
April 26, 2023 • 42 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Melissa Perri talks with Yasi Baiani, Senior Vice President of Product and Marketing at Cleo. They explore product management in some non-traditional senses, as well as how to set up a winning structure for your product teams and what good product leadership looks like. Yasi Baiani is a highly accomplished executive in product and strategy, startup advising, and investing, boasting a proven track record of delivering state-of-the-art products that are widely adopted by millions of people and defining new categories and markets. Under her expert leadership and strategic guidance, Cleo successfully launched two new product lines, Teens and Eldercare, which unlocked a market opportunity worth over $270 billion. In addition to her role at Cleo, Yasi is a Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Raya Capital, where she advises founders and CEOs on business and product strategy and invests in technology and health tech companies. Furthermore, Yasi is an investor through FlyBridge HBS Alumni Fund and a Global Leadership Advisor at How Women Lead. Her impressive achievements have earned her recognition as one of The 27 Most Impressive Harvard MBAs by Business Insider, and she has been acknowledged three times as a LinkedIn Top Voice in technology and digital health.
Episode 115: Answering Questions About Navigating the B2C to SaaS Transition, the Cultural Change Challenge, and Comforting People With Product and Legacy Business
April 19, 2023 • 17 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about moving from B2C to SaaS companies and how we can do it effectively, getting people comfortable with product and legacy businesses, and understanding the right time to move on to another company and stop fighting the cultural change. Q&A: Q: I've been in the product space for about eight years in Cape Town, South Africa. The opportunities for SaaS companies here are super limited, and I've only ever worked on B2C products. We are now moving to Europe, where there is a plethora of SaaS companies, and I'd really love to get into that space. My question is, how can I get into that space without experience? Do you have any advice for SaaS product management-specific courses I could highlight on my LinkedIn or CV to convince potential employers I can adapt? A: The thing about SaaS and B2C product management is that our fundamentals are pretty much the same, but we use different techniques. For example, if you are in B2C, you will be doing lots of AB testing. In B2B, we're gonna do things that mitigate risk by doing beta testing or getting small groups of customer advisory boards together. So I want you to concentrate on the fundamentals of product management. Let that shine through in your resume and in your LinkedIn. Q: I'm a product manager at a financial institution that is introducing products to the organization. My question has to do with incorporating the product into a legacy business that is used to making decisions based on a need to put out fires rather than being strategic in decisions. How do I bring the executive level along to start crafting product strategies and still show that the department heads are ultimately making the decisions on what to move forward with? I'm starting to see some folks worry about losing their control over the area, which could lead them to miss targets, but that isn't what the product aims to do. Seems to be a lot of sentiment toward not wanting to do the work, to think through a problem, and instead move forward with what they think is most important on an individual level. A: Here's a situation for legacy businesses that we have to take into account. A lot of people who've been working there have been doing so for a very long time, and they may actually have things that they know to be true that could be proven by fact. Sometimes when we jump straight into product processes and start talking to people about, "Hey, we need to put the strategy together" or "We need to experiment. Hey, can we get together to figure this out?" They respond with, "But I already know. So why do you need me to figure it out? Just do what I'm telling you to do." So, one technique that I found works well is to get everybody together and start listing out your assumptions. You do want to start from the perspective of how we make sure that these GMs or the people in charge of these businesses understand that by working with product, they're actually going to get more results, more money. Q: I recently left a mid-size company where I had great product leaders because, after the company was acquired, I was no longer passionate about the mission. I didn't think I'd be able to move from a PM role to a Director of Product position without a stop at another company on my resume. I joined an internal product team at a company where I'm very passionate about the mission. The team is only two years old and took over the technology solutions from an IT leader. I took a PM role because of the mission and the opportunity to help shape an organization, which I thought would help me hone my skills for a future Director role. Now, what I'm finding is that the leaders of the product team say that they want to move towards being a product-led company but rarely take the steps to get there, and we're always too busy to. I knew that it wouldn't be easy, and I'm trying to do things like bring in product analytics tools to help drive more data-informed cultures, set up monthly forums for discussions around products, and best practices for the team to discuss how we can get better, and create interview guides that help ensure we're hiring the right type of product people. Well, you've talked about how hard this type of work is, and I understand that this type of cultural shift takes time. At what point should I start thinking about whether I've done enough to gain the skills I need to move into product leadership at another company where I can start fresh without having to convince my own team, let alone others? A: Cultural shifts take a long time, but they can set you up nicely to gain some of the skills you need as a Director of Product. But for you to think about whether it is the right time to leave, you have to consider the Director of Product skills. So, ask yourself, can I steer a team toward a larger product vision and have them execute towards that? Can I handle crafting more complicated product strategies and oversee a much larger scope? Can I effectively coach them to be great product managers? Can I set up the infrastructure that they need to succeed? Can I manage up to executives and other people in the organization and communicate my points clearly and confidently so that they have faith in me? That's the last skill that you're really working on here during that cultural change. So, if you do want to stay, here's what I would advise to try and open up the conversation a little bit more and see what could happen.
Episode 114: Designing for Impact: How User Research Can Transform Government Services with Dana Chisnell
April 12, 2023 • 42 MIN
Have you ever wondered what it's like to work in product management and UX design in the government? Dana Chisnell, the Acting Executive Director for Customer Experience at Homeland Security, tells Melissa Perri what it’s like in this episode of Product Thinking. Dana shares her journey from being an independent consultant to ultimately joining Homeland Security. She describes the challenges of implementing human-centered design in a massive government organization, and the importance of proactive user research to inform service design. Listen in to learn how Dana and her team are working to improve customer experiences for the public in their interactions with DHS agencies, from TSA to FEMA. Dana Chisnell is the Acting Executive Director for Customer Experience at Homeland Security. She has over two decades of experience in UX design and research, and has worked with both private companies and government agencies. Dana is the co-founder of the Center for Civic Design, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the voting experience for all citizens. She also served on the board of the Usability Professionals' Association and is a frequent speaker at conferences on user experience design, research, and civic technology. You’ll hear Melissa and Dana talk about: Proactive user research is essential to inform service design in the government context, and to improve customer experiences for the public. Implementing human-centered design in a massive government organization like DHS requires a shift in mindset from focusing on reactive customer service to proactively understanding the needs of customers and reaching the most vulnerable. Product management and user experience design are relatively new concepts to the federal government, and there is a need to expand the pool of practitioners and build design and research ops. DHS has committed to improving customer experiences across its agencies, including FEMA, TSA, USCIS, and CBP. Dana’s team at Homeland Security is working on building and scaling design and research ops, and expanding the pool of practitioners, while also supporting the commitments made by DHS agencies under President Biden's executive order. Different government agencies have varying levels of CX and UX maturity. The government is focused on impact and improving people's lives rather than maximizing revenue, which changes the incentives for product decisions. The process of product management and user experience design is similar in the private and public sectors, but outcomes are measured differently in the government. The political climate in the Executive Office and Congress can affect the potential outcomes for the public. The challenge in government is getting stakeholders to think about outcomes rather than outputs. Demonstrating the impact that a program will have on people helps get stakeholders to shift their mindset towards outcomes. Problem focus is still applicable in government product management, just like in the private sector. When working for the government, it's important to take into account the whole population, not just a perfect persona that a private company may prioritize. Dana advises starting by working with the most vulnerable people first, such as those who have been historically marginalized, to understand their situation before moving on to other groups of personas. The power dynamic when doing user research with vulnerable people is sensitive, and it's important to not make people more vulnerable and afraid by doing the research and design work. Third parties such as vendors or nonprofits may be trained to do the work instead. Everyone on a team should do research, regardless of their role, to gain exposure to users and customers. The government measures user experience by the level of burden experienced when filling out a form. There are incentives for lowering that burden, and basic usability testing with the intended audience can help achieve this. Resources: Dana Chisnell on Website | LinkedIn | Twitter CX at Homeland Security
Episode 113: Answering Questions About SAFe 6.0, Improving Alignment Between Project Managers, and Implementing OKRs Successfully
April 5, 2023 • 21 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about changes and new features in SAFe 6.0, how to improve alignment and transparency between project managers on the same team while meeting the needs of the different stakeholders, and what it takes to implement business OKRs successfully. Q&A: Q: I just finished a significant dev project in the FinTech industry. There were about thirty-five product managers in the company. I took a role as a senior product manager, and they made everyone go through SAFe. Their commitment to SAFe was about a ten, and their commitment to outcomes was about a two. So what is the deal with SAFe? Have you seen this improved output in any of your encounters with it? It didn't seem agile or lean to me. A: I have not seen anybody actually succeed in implementing SAFe in a way where we focus more on the outcomes instead of doing the actual process. People turn to SAFe because they want the instruction manual. But the problem with that is they stop thinking for themselves about what is right and wrong and whether we are actually delivering outcomes. And that's my biggest issue with it. But this is a great time to look at SAFe 6.0 and see what's happening here. Q: I'm a product operations manager at a medium size company operating in the field of digital health. The company has been growing fast in the last couple of years, and the number of PMs and projects has also grown, making it more difficult to collaborate and stay. ...To improve alignment between the main people involved in those areas, we decided to form a PM designer's team. The team currently includes five product managers, including senior and junior PMs, and is led by a Head of Product, as well as three designers and senior designers led by a Head of Design. However, we've been struggling to identify how to set up things to become a well-functioning team. ...On the other hand, the team has an urgent need to align on the product roadmap, but we haven't found an effective way of doing that yet. Do you have any recommendations on how to set up this kind of team while meeting the needs of the different stakeholders? What kind of virtuals and processes could help us? A: The main idea behind product operations is one of enablement, not micromanagement. When you think of product operations, cadences and governance are a big part of your role, and it's about getting the right people in the right room so that you can review the things that you need. Now, if you have this new product management and design team, the leaders will want some transparency in the roadmap. But they don't need to know everybody's tiny task. Here’s what I think could help your team. Q: Our tech department is small and in the growth stage, and we have recently implemented business OKRs with key results, but we're not sure what to do next. We don't have the team structure set up correctly. We don't empower the teams. We don't seem to have a product or business strategy for digital products. How would you approach a situation with our product lead and stakeholders? A: If there's no guiding strategy, how did you come up with the OKRs? To me, they're probably going to be a little messy, and they're not gonna be focused on the outcomes we are trying to achieve. People put the OKRs all on the team level and don't roll them up. You should have three levels of OKRs that roll up to the business goals. So that might be a good place to start with your business leads and stakeholders. 658076
Emotional Intelligence in Product Management: Why It Matters and How to Develop It with Christian Idiodi
March 29, 2023 • 40 MIN
Do you struggle to get buy-in for your product-led initiatives? Are you having a hard time convincing executives and colleagues to embrace the change? In this episode of Product Thinking, Melissa Perri talks with Christian Idiodi, Partner at Silicon Valley Product Group. They explore the key elements of successful product transformations: through his years of experience, Christian has observed that emotional intelligence, humility, and a willingness to transform yourself are key drivers of successful organizational change. He shares valuable insights on how to build trust and read the room, in order to transform your organization into an empowered, customer-focused team. Christian Idiodi is a Partner at Silicon Valley Product Group (SVPG), where he advises and coaches executives, product teams, and leaders on how to build great products. With over 200 products built in his career, Christian has experience in the HR technology space, financial services, and marketplaces. Before joining SVPG, Christian led a major transformation at Merrill Corporation for several years. You’ll hear Melissa and Christian talk about: Emotional intelligence and awareness are critical for product managers to gain buy-in from stakeholders and executives. Arrogance and ego can hinder organizational change and transformation efforts. People are often promoted to leadership positions without adequate training or development, leading to insecurities and impostor syndrome. To get buy-in, seek to understand the needs, goals, and reward structures of key stakeholders and executives. Product managers should do discovery on key people in the organization, including executives, to understand their perspectives and challenges. It's important to understand the reward structure and incentives of executives, and it's okay to ask about it directly. Creating a user manual for managers or stakeholders can help product managers better understand their perspectives and motivations. The true stakeholders of a transformation effort are usually a small group of people with high levels of interest and influence, and understanding their perspectives is critical. Ask open-ended questions and show a genuine interest in the success of stakeholders and executives; this can help to build trust and facilitate buy-in. All problems in a transformation are people problems, and leaders need to coach their teams to play a new game. Success in product management is not about the title, but about the impact on the environment. Emotional intelligence and the ability to read a room are crucial skills for product managers and executives to succeed in their roles. Arrogance, ego, and imposter syndrome can hold product leaders back from developing their emotional intelligence and reading the room. Building trust is essential for product leaders to establish themselves as competent and credible. Positioning yourself as ignorant and seeking to learn from others can help you build trust and establish productive relationships. Tailor your presentations and communication style to your audience’s preferences can help you connect with them and read the room effectively. Organizational transformation starts with individual transformation of leaders who are willing to put in the effort to change themselves and their environments. Successful transformations often have strong product leadership, competent product managers, and an empowered culture. A powerful indicator of an empowered organization is when engineers can articulate their work in the same language as top executives. Resources: Christian Idiodi on LinkedIn | Twitter | SVPG Silicon Valley Product Group
Answering Questions About Slow Product Development, the Difference Between SMEs and PMs, and Working With a Customer Success Team
March 22, 2023 • 21 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about how to respond when people say product development doesn't go fast enough, getting the business to understand that subject matter experts are not the same as PMS, and how to work with a customer success team. Q: I have often heard … stakeholders saying, ‘Product development doesn't go fast enough. Your product team spends too much time thinking; can we do less thinking and more doing?’ This usually comes from tech leaders who are more used to IT as a service, and salespeople who always feel we are one feature away from winning our new client. I have learned that trying to evangelize about product discovery is usually a lost battle. …Sometimes discovery, once done, looks obvious and when we avoid the risk, it's hard to prove. …Also, sometimes product people get too deep into discovery, try to validate too many hypotheses. …What do you think here? A: This is a great question and something I do run into a lot with companies. I have also been in the position where people are like, ‘Oh, we don't need discovery or we don't need to do that.’ I have realized over time that there is a balance. Here's one thing that might actually help you in this situation. Q: How do you shift the business perspective when they tend to view a subject matter expert as the ideal product manager? As such, the primary value they want is to write contextualized stories for the scrum team. They don't have knowledge of the rest of the discipline and don't want teammates that can go outside that box. That role is typically reserved for the business general manager who is the true CEO of the product A: People don't really understand the role of a product manager and in your case, it sounds like they are definitely operating like product owners and not full product managers. A lot of times people think that product management is like 100% subject matter expertise. …Product managers do need to have some subject matter expertise, but they don't need to have all of it. Here’s what I think you should do. Q: My company operates in the B2B space and has grown a lot in a short space of time. In the early days, the product team had daily contact with our customers and dealt with all kinds of customer requests and feedback apart from commercial queries, which were handled by an account management team. As we scaled, the company has created a customer success function, as we recognize that product couldn't handle all inquiries from customers. The customer success team is great and provides fantastic insights on our customers and their needs. However, it can sometimes be difficult to tell where to draw the line and responsibilities of the teams. What is the best way for us to work together collaboratively but with clear distinction of responsibilities?  A: Customer success is the nature of a growing team. You'll always have some kind of customer success, sales team, account management, all that wonderful stuff in a B2B space as you grow. And those teams are actually gold. You know why? Because they deal with all the customer inquiries, all the questions that you can't deal with as you start to scale and as you come up with more and more things that you need to build. Here’s what I would do to solidify the team, so everyone knows what is and isn’t their responsibility. Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter | CPO Accelerator
Breaking Down Today’s Machine Learning Technology with Christina Pawlikowski
March 15, 2023 • 36 MIN
Melissa Perri is joined by Christina Pawlikowski, a teaching fellow at Harvard and co-founder of Causal, to help demystify machine learning and AI on this episode of Product Thinking. Christina discusses language models, the different types of machine learning, how they can be used to solve problems, and the importance of good data and ethical considerations when using machine learning algorithms. Christina Pawlikowski is a teaching fellow at Harvard University and co-founder of Causal, a company that helps businesses make better decisions with causal inference.  You’ll hear Melissa and Christina talk about: How machine learning is essentially creating an algorithm or a model that can make good predictions based on data. There are three types of machine learning: supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning. Good training data is crucial for machine learning algorithms to be effective. When considering using machine learning, it's important to ask questions about things like how complex the decision that needs to be made is, whether the model has to produce a definitive answer, how high the stakes are, and how quickly the answer needs to come back. Ethical considerations are important when feeding data into a machine-learning model, especially when making decisions with high stakes. GPT-3 and Chat GPT are examples of language models that use neural nets to generate predictions about what word or sentence comes next based on probabilities. The accuracy of a machine learning model is only as good as the quality of the data that is fed into it. When incorporating ML into a product, it's important to plan for scenarios where the model is wrong and to consider ethical considerations such as false positives and false negatives. Data scientists play a crucial role in assembling and cleaning training data, building and testing the model, and deploying it in production. The process may involve collaboration with machine learning engineers or other teams. The cadence of working on machine learning is different from working on traditional UX-focused teams, with more downtime and exploratory time upfront. Slack time is important for data scientists and machine learning engineers to keep up with new techniques, write papers, and attend conferences. Artificial general intelligence is probably further off than we think, and AI alignment is an important field to prevent any negative outcomes. Resources: Christina Pawlikowski on LinkedIn | Twitter  Casual Labs
Answering Questions About Product Strategy Audits, Offering Professional Services, and Staying or Leaving a Product Job
March 8, 2023 • 19 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about how to do a product strategy audit, offering professional services to one-off clients, and how to choose whether to stay on at the company in a new capacity. Q: What steps, processes and resources would you recommend for conducting a product strategy audit? I'm considering a new role in product strategy, and I think the best place to start is a comprehensive review of the current strategy to the extent that it exists and how our product plans align with it.  A: That is the best place to do a product strategy audit, but you have to hit it from two sides. This is what I do when I go in to do a product strategy audit. Q: One of our clients requires a custom SSO integration with a good amount of complexity. The client is expecting us to deliver it as professional services. They are paying for it, so they want a clear Gantt chart project plan and a project manager that can deliver on time, on scope, and on budget. I don't have technical project managers on my team, only product managers who are more discovery oriented and are used to building products, not as a service. I don't have enough professional service work to hire a project manager to be fully dedicated to this kind of work. …Any tips on how to handle this situation in the short term? While we can't hire someone specific for this role, how should we share roles and responsibilities between product tech and customer service? A: I feel like there's some underlying problems that I'm picking out of this that are not just related to roles and responsibilities. Here’s how I would deal with this issue. Q: I'm a team lead in a three person business intelligence team for a small company. We're currently undergoing a merger into a much larger enterprise with over 8000 staff. I'm seeing indicators that the product people in the larger enterprise have little interest involving me in product discovery and strategy, which areas of the previous environment that I really enjoyed. One stated they judge me as one of their technical people, which I interpret as they don't see a place for me in product discovery and direction. I believe I need to decide if I want to be a purely technical resource or find another job where I'm more welcome at the product discovery and strategy table. Are you able to give me any advice on navigating this situation?  A: I'm slightly mad that all of these product managers are completely dismissing you, and you are a fantastic resource. This is crazy. So here's the thing. Business intelligence is a critical skill. They might not understand what you actually do. So let's start with that… Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter | CPO Accelerator
Navigating Healthcare and Fintech with Colin Anawaty
March 1, 2023 • 34 MIN
What challenges do product managers face in highly regulated industries like healthcare and finance? In this episode of the Product Thinking podcast, Melissa Perri speaks with Colin Anawaty about his journey to co-founding First Dollar and the challenges of navigating a highly regulated industry. Colin shares his insights on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), the benefits of utilizing them, and why he thinks they should be more widely available to all Americans. He also discusses the importance of personal and career growth within startups, and the value of providing clear career paths to employees. He describes how First Dollar evolved into a platform, and how their focus on addressing healthcare inequities and tying together healthcare and finance can lead to incentivizing better outcomes for all.  Colin Anawaty is the Chief Product Officer of First Dollar, a health wallet platform that provides its services to plan administrators to help consumers utilize their health benefits more easily and effectively. Colin has over six years of experience in healthcare and previously worked in the prepaid industry. Before joining First Dollar, Colin worked at athenahealth, where he and Melissa first met. Colin is a product management expert with a strong focus on healthcare and finance and has a passion for helping people make the most of their healthcare benefits. Here are some ideas you’ll hear Colin and Melissa discuss: Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are a type of account created by the US government to make healthcare more affordable through pre-tax contributions. Unlike other benefits, such as FSAs and HRAs, HSAs can be kept even after leaving employment and can be invested for future use. Colin believes that HSAs should be more widely available to all Americans. The healthcare and finance industries are complex and highly regulated, and it can be challenging for product managers to become subject matter experts in both areas. Colin and his team learned about the industries by using resources such as industry experts and advisory boards, and they also hired people who had a mix of product management experience and expertise in either healthcare or finance. When hiring product managers for a startup, Colin looks for people who have the drive to learn and grow, and who have taken courses in product management. It's important to align product managers with the product lines they oversee and to focus on problem discovery and working with customers. Product managers need to be curious and open to learning about new things, especially when dealing with complexity. Formal training, subject matter experts, and nonprofit organizations can all help product managers get up to speed on regulations and compliance. Embedding security ops and compliance into the culture of a company can make it less scary and more manageable for everyone involved. Creating a consumer advisory board or incorporating customer engagement into terms of service can help companies navigate legal and compliance issues when trying to work directly with end users. Big companies prioritize change management and stability, while startups prioritize velocity and rapid iteration to achieve product-market fit. First Dollar started with a mission to help people shop for care but pivoted to become a platform for HSAs and FSAs. Resources: Colin Anawaty on LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram  First Dollar
Answering Questions About Working with Product Owners, the Future of Product Management, and Educating Your CEO
February 22, 2023 • 22 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa Perri answers subscribers’ questions about how product managers and product owners should work together, product management trend predictions and what the future of product might look like, and what to do when your CEO is misdirecting blame toward product management.  Q: You've been involved in product management for a while, and I would love to see where you feel the evolution of product management is headed. A: I think it's really hard to talk about where PM is going because it's still not fully functioning in many companies yet…I'll tell you some of the trends that I am seeing, though.  Q: My organization is scaling, and now we have product managers and product owners. How should we work together? A: You know that I’m not a fan of the split of product managers and product owners- here’s why. Q: Our CEO is putting the blame on product management because not as much as we want is being delivered. How can we change the perception that product management is the cause without throwing our devs under the bus?  A: We're going to start from a place of everybody is trying their best. You need to educate the CEO about what the problems are, and you need to do that as a united front. Here’s how to do that.  Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter | CPO Accelerator
Spotlighting UX Strategy with Jared Spool
February 15, 2023 • 47 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Jared Spool to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Jared and Melissa talk about how user experience as a discipline has grown over the years, the challenges that come with it, and how to improve UX for both product leaders and customers. Jared is the co-founder, co-CEO, and Maker of Awesomeness at Center Centre - UIE, where he and his team “uncover what it takes to drive organizations to deliver the best-designed products and services.” Throughout his career, Jared has worked in the White House and has been instrumental in establishing digital organizations and shaping the future of UX. His extensive experience and expertise in the field have earned him a reputation as a thought leader in the UX community. Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Jared explore: Jared talks about how he got started in his UX career. The biggest issue product management currently faces with user experience, according to Jared, is that user experience is both seen and treated as a service. This kind of approach to user experience work does not produce good quality products or results. Product management and leadership has to make sure the products aren't only being built right, but that they're being built for the right purpose and solution.  The core basis of UX strategy is utilizing all the skills, resources, knowledge and experience available to help an organization achieve its goals. "[Strategy] involves having ways to measure, so it has some metrics capability. It involves understanding how to make sure we're solving the right problems, so it gets involved in the roadmap. You need to have a vision of where you're trying to get to. That vision has to be compelling so that everybody gets excited about that vision," Jared emphasizes.  What differentiates a product strategy from a UX strategy is product strategy is about the progression of the product and UX strategy is about the progression of the user experience. Product leaders need to understand the importance of having a UX department in their company. UX brings long-term value to companies. Melissa talks about the most successful product organizations having their management teams partner with UX. Understanding your customer user experience will do wonders for improving the quality of your product output. Jared explains that his school for UX designers teaches all the relevant UX concepts, as well as how to work with product managers and organizations. Smaller teams allow for UX designers to be able to share their thoughts more openly and freely, and brainstorm more. The product leader must create an environment that allows designers to brainstorm solutions to challenges without feeling like they are walking on eggshells. Melissa and Jared talk about the challenges that come with company mergers that do not take into account user experience. Companies spend millions of dollars on mergers but have no idea how the product will look at the end of that merger or what the user experience will be.  The more you can improve your user's experience, the more valuable they will see you and the more they will want to do business with you.  Resources Jared Spool | LinkedIn Leaders of Awesomeness
Answering Questions About Navigating Your Product Career
February 8, 2023 • 27 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about how to pivot from product management to a career as an independent product consultant, how to handle coaching roadblocks when working with new product owners, and the ins and outs of book publishing.  Q: My question is around how to pivot my career into an independent product manager, for example, a freelancer consultant or coach or a combination of any of those…Since you became an independent product consultant, what would be your guidance based on your experience and considering the current market conditions? A: I didn't set out to be an independent product consultant, it kind of happened, and I just kept going with it. Here’s how I would approach it if that’s the direction you want to pursue, and some questions to ask yourself to set yourself up for success.   Q: When coaching product owners, I bring a variety and volume of techniques to add tools to their toolbox for product thinking. How and why do the product owners tend to stick with what they know and not shift towards building new experiences as much as they could or should?  A: If you bring [new product owners] a bunch of tools, it might be overwhelming. It's really easy to overwhelm people with a lot of different techniques while they're still trying to figure out what their job is. My first approach is to help them explain what their job is and what the purpose is. Listen in to learn what to do next. Q: I want to write a book. Do I self-publish it, or do I go with a publisher? A: Book writing is incredibly hard, but if you do want to write a book, I encourage you to do it. It was the most rewarding thing I've ever done. Here’s what to know about both publishing options, so you can make the right choice for you. Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter | CPO Accelerator
Demystifying Pricing Strategy with Patrick Campbell
February 1, 2023 • 52 MIN
Welcome to another episode of the Product Thinking podcast. This week, host Melissa Perri is joined by Patrick Campbell, CEO of Profitwell. They discuss all things pricing, diving deep into the psychology behind pricing models and how to choose a pricing strategy. Patrick talks about the biggest mistakes businesses make when pricing, when and how often you should be raising your prices, how to align your price changes with your value metrics and communicate those changes to customers, and more.  You’ll hear Melissa and Patrick talk about: Patrick's team developed a financial analytics product and decided to give it away for free in order to get more data and improve their algorithms. 37,000 companies have used it in the past seven years. Patrick's company was acquired by Paddle for $200 million in May 2022, with a mission to grow subscription companies automatically. Pricing is a core competency for a business and should not be treated as a quick task to be done and moved on from. It is the very essence of a business as it represents the value of a product or service and how it is perceived by customers. Businesses should experiment with monetization once per quarter and raise prices once per year. Raising prices too often can lead to customer churn. However, this eventually normalizes as ‘fence-sitting’ customers leave. Make sure your price increase is justified by the value you provide to the customer. Align your pricing with a value metric, such as revenue. Packaging and pricing go hand in hand and can be thought of in terms of charging different prices for different pieces of value of the product. Sustaining a social media platform like Twitter is difficult, and it can be hard to monetize. Adobe's move from selling Photoshop for $1,000 to a subscription model of $32 a month was an "eye-opening" change that allowed for more investment in the product. It's important to get the finance team aligned with the move to a subscription model, as costs will initially go up and revenue will initially go down. Pricing is a whole company problem, not just a product problem. Resources Patrick Campbell Website | Email | LinkedIn ProfitWell
Answering Questions About Tech Vs Business, Level of Detail for Engineers, and When to Join a Startup
January 25, 2023 • 24 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about whether or not adding a business owner into a product team is the right call, how much detail product managers should provide to their engineering teams, and if there’s a right time to join a startup as a product manager.  Q: I've been asked to include a business owner from outside technology in the teams. I'm worried that this will slow decision making and reduce our time to market. How should I tackle this? A: Unfortunately, this happens a lot, especially in large traditional companies and ones that are going through transformations. They've got this old mentality of the tech team being separate and responsible for infrastructure, and the business side doing the “real work.” Here’s how I would handle this issue. Q: What do you think is a realistic level of detail for a PM to provide their engineering team?  A: It’s all about balance. There needs to be a balance between how much information you need and what your cultural capacity is to meet the expectations of the information provided. Listen in to find out how to achieve that balance. Q: Is there a good timing for joining a startup? A: This company clearly didn't know what they wanted out of a head of product. It sounded like they may have wanted a lackey, somebody to do the lower-level stuff. There is a point in a startup where it is too early for a Head of Product. Tune in to learn why. Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter | CPO Accelerator
Zooming in On OKRs with Christina Wodtke
January 18, 2023 • 44 MIN
In this week’s episode, Melissa Perri and Christina Wodtke, author of Radical Focus, get into all things OKRs. Christina shares how she discovered the power of OKRs, why she sees OKRs as a “vitamin, not a medicine,” why OKRs aren’t synonymous with product strategy, what it looks like to apply key results in the wrong way, how to use OKRs to create “super employees,” and so much more.  Here are some key points Christina and Melissa talk about: Christina talks about her professional background and what led her to write the first and second editions of her book, Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results. Christina believes that OKRs are ideally set and implemented at a team level, but they not a safety net that provides your team with product strategy. Christina highlights the differences between an OKR, product strategy, and business strategy and how they work together in the business ecosystem. An excellent product strategy and good annual OKRs can help execute an ambitious five-year plan. Christina and Melissa explore the really difficult question, “When do we stop?” and talk about how checking back in with your OKRs quarter after quarter can help answer it.  Resources: Christina Wodtke on LinkedIn | Twitter  Radical Focus
Positioning Your Product with April Dunford
January 11, 2023 • 49 MIN
In this week’s episode, Melissa Perri invites April Dunford, author of the best-selling book Obviously Awesome, How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It on the podcast. April has 25 years of experience leading marketing, product, and sales teams and now runs her consulting firm, helping companies of all shapes and sizes, including Google, IBM, Postman, and Epic Games, nail their positioning.  Here are some key points April and Melissa talk about: April talks about her academic and professional background and what led her to write her book on product positioning, Obviously Awesome. According to April, product positioning is how your product is the best in the world at delivering some value that a well-defined set of target customers cares about. “Positioning is really about taking a customer that doesn't know too much about our [product] and orienting them towards it,” she tells Melissa. April describes an example of good positioning that a company can execute and how to assess if your product’s positioning is weak or strong. One of the key concepts in product positioning is looking at your product from the perspective of the consumer to determine what makes your product unique. It is best to build your product according to a positioning thesis based on information about your competitors and consumers. However, the thesis is usually wrong, so use your initial launch to improve it. The essence of product marketing is product positioning. Producing positioning can only succeed when the market managers work harmoniously with the product managers and sales team, to truly understand the products' place in the market. If we don't have an actionable segmentation, it doesn't matter if we have product market fit.  April shares her expertise on what product teams and marketing teams should be doing to truly understand and leverage their product positioning. Resources April Dunford on the web | Twitter
Answering Your Most Asked Questions of 2022
January 4, 2023 • 20 MIN
We’ve made it to our 100th episode of the podcast! Melissa celebrates by tying up the year with a full review of your most frequently asked questions. Common themes included transitioning into a new role, communicating with leadership, how to divide product work amongst different teams, and many more. Listen in as Melissa summarizes her advice on each of these big topics, and then shares her product predictions for 2023 (including a conversation about why winning in a recession is largely connected to good product management). Happy New Year to all of our listeners!  Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter | CPO Accelerator
Examining Product-Led Growth with Ezinne Udezue
December 21, 2022 • 37 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Ezinne Udezue to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Ezinne is the CPO of WP Engine, a platform that provides solutions to create marketable sites and apps on WordPress, as well as the author of Product Management for Product-Led Growth, coming 2023. Melissa asks Ezinne what she thinks the key is to being a successful product leader, Ezinne shares her definition of product-led growth, and they discuss how product-led growth applies to B2B and Enterprise products, core PLG tactics, what PMs need to understand about marketing and how product collaborates with marketing and sales in a PLG company, and much more.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Ezinne explore: Her journey into product leadership. Product leaders are measured on impact, so they should be someone that people look up to. "It comes down to having a method…a way one thinks about product,"  Ezinne says. A key part of becoming a successful product manager is being able to explain your product to people in a way they can understand.  "You're combining all those signals and setting context and creating options, your ideas backlog, your product backlog, and then you're making a choice. That to me is what product strategy is," Ezinne tells Melissa.  Ezinne lists skills and attributes companies and product managers need to hone for successful product growth. Word of mouth marketing is an important component of product-led growth. People are more likely to come to you if you offer fast and efficient solutions to their problems.   With a product-led growth strategy, sales and marketing are able to focus on upselling instead of bombarding customers. They can focus on individuals who are already interested in the product. The first step to product-led growth is mapping out the customer journey. Identify market segments to attack and generate value. Since there are so many new companies emerging every day, acquiring a customer is difficult. Ezinne stresses being very intentional, and being creative about virality. Resources Ezinne Udezue | LinkedIn WP Engine
Dear Melissa: Answering Questions About Product Teams, Scaling Pitfalls, and Product-Led Companies
December 14, 2022 • 25 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about overlap between roles, pitfalls companies fall into while scaling, and to what extent a company should be product-led. Q: What overlap do you see between the role of Product Manager and UX Designer?  Q: What pitfalls have you seen companies fall into while they were scaling? What are the main principles to get right in this exciting yet challenging stage of company's growth? Q: To what extent should a company be product-led? Assuming that a company relies both on services and products, are there variances to what product-led means for such companies? Or does product-led mainly apply to companies where the product is the center of the business?  Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Mapping Out Now, Next, and Later with Janna Bastow
December 7, 2022 • 44 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Janna Bastow to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Janna is the founder of Mind the Product and the CEO and founder of ProdPad, which is software that helps manage your roadmap and product backlog. Janna and Melissa discuss the story of how ProdPad came to be and why Janna was inspired to build a more robust road mapping tool, how to become the most informed PM in your industry, the process behind creating the Now, Next, Later roadmap format and why it’s caught on, how to communicate with other teams both before and after you create your roadmap, and how to influence your leadership to evolve their processes and thinking around road mapping.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Janna talk about: Janna shares how ProdPad came to fruition. “Some of the immediate problems were the fact that we have to ask the same questions over and over again: Why are we doing this thing, what is this thing we're doing? What problem does it solve?”  Janna has always taken a collaborative approach to product management. She knows she doesn’t have all the answers, so she views her job as asking questions and using the knowledge of the people around her. When done right, product management is the most fun area of business. You get to play with different ideas, interact with different areas, and make decisions about what gets made. The Now-Next-Later roadmap focuses on prioritizing the most urgent tasks, identifying what needs to be done, and providing a framework for the scale of certain tasks, emphasizing sequence rather than time.  Many product managers prefer roadmaps in the style of Now-Next-Later because it doesn’t communicate time at all. They don’t want to be beholden to time estimations in anticipation of over-committing or not hitting deadlines. ProdPad is a mix of a coach and a SaaS tool designed to help you become a better product manager. It gives you a few key views in a non-exploitative format that allows you to view the order in which you are going to solve problems. One of the key things product managers can do to convince their leaders to adopt the Now-Next-Later roadmap is to speak their language; try to gain clarity on the core of their resistance. Resources Janna Bastow on the Web | LinkedIn | Twitter  ProdPad | Twitter
Dear Melissa: Answering Questions About Advocating for Resources, Bottom-Up Transformation, and Setting Expectations
November 30, 2022 • 24 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about advocating for resources in a non-leadership role, whether or not a bottoms-up transformation can really work if leadership isn’t immediately on board, and how to effectively communicate with teams outside of product in order to set realistic expectations and get them on your side.  Q: As a product manager that is not in a leadership role, how do you recommend advocating for additional resources on your development? Q: Have you ever seen a product transformation work from bottoms-up, work at the team level first, and then improve at the executive level? If so, what do you think were the deciding factors? Q: How do I work with non-product teams who have no regard for prioritization or respect for the actual product team’s process? Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Leading with Vision and Purpose with Ken Norton
November 23, 2022 • 51 MIN
Ken Norton is Melissa Perri’s guest on this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Ken is an executive coach who is passionate about “whole person” coaching– he works with product leaders not just on their careers but on their growth and development in all facets of their lives.  Ken joins Melissa to discuss the evolution of product management, the stark difference between empowered and unempowered product teams, his biggest piece of advice to early career PMs, what great leadership looks like, his 14 years of experience working at Google and on products like Google Maps and Google Calendar, and why ultimately, product is all about people.  Here are some key points Ken and Melissa talk about:  Ken reflects on how the product management field has changed and matured over the years. Product management is no longer a “nascent, upstart concept”- it’s an established role that people understand the need for. Ken laments the number of product leaders with no experience in the field being hired into companies. He discusses “this trend of people putting leaders in the position of product leadership, who have never been in the product field before.” Senior product leaders should develop and execute an apprenticeship-type program for people who want to work in the product field.  Melissa comments that several product leaders are becoming general managers; she worries about the future of people who are purely product people. Ken says that he sees the general manager position as “a maturity of the product leadership role, a recognition of how important and critical that job really is.” Successful product leaders learn to lead in a way that inspires others, while confronting challenges in a proactive way. Ken talks about his experience at Google, and shares stories and examples about the leadership team and their approach to product.  Ensuring your team’s success means laying your plan out in steps and showing real evidence: it means showing a path forward that people can rally behind. Resources Ken Norton on LinkedIn | Twitter | Bring the Donuts, LLC
Dear Melissa: Answering Questions About Platform Changes, Personalized Prototypes, and Prioritizing
November 16, 2022 • 26 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa addresses a recent Twitter topic worth further discussing: how important it is for PMs to carve out the time for creative thinking and processing outside of scheduled meetings and tasks. Then she dives into subscribers’ questions about measuring the value of a platform change, how to create prototypes when the product requires personalization and balancing outcome-focused and functional-focused work. Q: How do you measurably prove the value of a platform change?  Q: How do you rapidly prototype features that rely on personalization as a value driver without creating the actual product? Do we just build personalized prototypes per test user? Q: How do we balance outcome-focused work with functional work? Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Sharpening Your Financial Skill Set with Giff Constable
November 9, 2022 • 56 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Giff Constable to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Giff is a product leader and former CPO of both Meet Up and Neo. Giff is passionate about helping product people sharpen their financial skills, which is a big topic of conversation in this episode. He talks to Melissa about why it’s key that product executives understand the nuances of financials, the most important relationships for a product executive to cultivate and how, why Giff never regrets investing time in the exercise of creating FP&A models, the ins and outs of understanding valuation, and so much more.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Giff explore: Giff talks about his career path and how he ended up in CPO and CEO roles. When communicating in a corporate space, adjust your language depending on who you're speaking to, with the goal of finding common ground.  Giff explains the FP&A model.  Nothing changes user behavior more than your pricing model. Adjust your pricing model so that the majority of your customers are satisfied. "When both the customer and the company are being successful together, everyone's reinvesting, everyone's happy," Giff tells Melissa. Product leaders should build a relationship with their teams. An easy way to do this is to involve them in decision-making. Trust is built. You don't have to do everything by yourself or work in silos.  Valuation has to do with what someone is willing to pay for what you have. Companies are valued with a multiple of their top or bottom line. Lower growth companies are valued in the multiple of the bottom line. Higher growth companies tend to be valued as a multiple of revenue. How fast or slow a company grows has to do with its product. If a company has poor prioritization or if there are market shifts, its product will become obsolete and contribute to slow growth for the company. For larger companies, there's also the risk of being so far ahead that you don't see who's catching up with you, and by the time you do, it's too late. Prioritization and paying attention to market trends and shifts are key. Resources Giff Constable | LinkedIn | Twitter
Dear Melissa: Answering Questions About Defining Product Terms, Founders Relinquishing Control, and Transitioning into Leadership
November 2, 2022 • 25 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about whether or not having clearly defined terms and a common language within an organization matters, how to convince founders to hand over the product reins and hire an interim CPO, and how to convince your team and leadership that you belong in your new role as Director of Product.  Q: Do you have any advice on how to establish a common language? Q: As a product consultant, what's the secret to convincing founders to give up control of a product that was a labor of love? How do you best convince a founder that having an interim CPO is worth the investment? Q: How can I build the trust of my team of four product managers and show leadership that they made the right choice with me? Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Investing in Internal Tools with John Athayde
October 26, 2022 • 45 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes John Athayde to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. John is a design team leader, strategist, and individual contributor, as well as VP of Design at PowerFleet. John and Melissa discuss how he shifted focus to the importance of internal tools at Living Social, how he got buy-in from leadership to prioritize internal tools, the process of creating a design system for a scaling organization, the benefits of design systems, design systems vs. style guides, and the tools and org structure he recommends to get set up for success.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and John talk about: What led John to PowerFleet. John shares how he started pushing for improved internal controls. “As I was working on the front-end screens, [I realized] we could make this a little better.” He convinced some product people and engineers, and they collaborated to do a bunch of mockups. They presented them to the CTO, who gave them his blessing. Designers should know how to code, or at least know how code happens, according to John. “You can’t design a building without knowing how a building is built.” You can use product thinking to design your internal tools. It’s less of just a design issue and more of an issue of creating a product, which is a complex internal operating system. This is necessary to actually scale. A UX engineer is a front-end developer who is primarily focused on the look and feel as opposed to functionality. They are the bridge between functionality and design. It's a person with the design sensibility who can speak code and help implement, but they're not doing the implementation. Now that almost everyone has some kind of experience with software, UX and UI have become more essential. Consumers are going to subconsciously compare their experience with your user interface with others. Every company needs a source of truth for their operations, that is, documentation for all the relevant information needed to continue operations. In the event of key people leaving, the work they did would still be there for the next person to take over. We often take for granted how important the role of a UX designer is in a high-growth organization. Resources John Athayde on LinkedIn | Twitter | Website
Dear Melissa: Answering Questions About Program Managers, Switching Jobs, and Experimenting with Hardware
October 19, 2022 • 19 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about relationships between program and product managers, the right questions to ask during the interview process so you end up in a company with strong product values, and how to experiment when iterating on complex hardware. Q: What does a great partnership between a product manager and a technical program manager look like? If my long-term career goal is to pivot back into product, how might I build up my product chops in this role in the short term without stepping on the toes of my product partner in crime?  Q: Do you have any suggestions for questions I can ask when interviewing for a new role to make sure that I don't fall into the same situation in the future? Q: Do you have any advice for how to do product discovery when you are working with high-end systems and prototyping and iterating are really expensive? Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story with Donna Lichaw
October 12, 2022 • 44 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Donna Lichaw to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Donna is a product leader turned leadership coach and the author of The User's Journey. She joins Melissa to talk about how she helps leaders and executives answer questions like, “how do I get my team excited to show up to work every day?” by becoming the heroes of their own stories. They discuss the importance of being clear on what untrue stories you might tell yourself and the importance of self-awareness, common challenges Donna faces when working with leaders, the helpful side of imposter syndrome, and how to identify your own superpower and use it for good.   Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Donna explore: Donna talks about what led her down the path of leadership coaching. A big sign that someone isn't ready to be a leader is when they resort to the blame game. It also indicates a lack of self-awareness.  "What I found is that the stories you tell other people are only as powerful as the stories you do or don't tell yourself.” The main challenges that Donna has seen leaders encounter are a lack of trust for their teams and executives, a lack of mentorship, and letting go of control.  Imposter syndrome can actually be helpful in a certain way. Donna talks about ways leaders can use it or combat it to perform better at their jobs. The behaviors that aren't serving you are actually your superpowers. "They're your superpowers because you're really good at defaulting to that behavior. And that behavior is really strong. It's so strong that it guides you all the time, even when you don't want it to." Telling stories as a leader is not enough. "The trick is really to involve other people and bring them along on your journey; and with everyone you work with, you always want to think, ‘How are they going to be a hero, and how do I make them feel really excited to work with me?’” To tactically make someone the hero and help bring them on your side, you must first connect with them one-on-one. Understand what makes them tick, their goals, and their challenges. [37:11] Resources Donna Lichaw | LinkedIn | Twitter The User's Journey 
Dear Melissa: Answering Questions About PMs as Scapegoats, Breaking Hard News to Developers, and Sunsetting Products
October 5, 2022 • 20 MIN
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? Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Defining Outcomes Over Output with Josh Seiden
September 28, 2022 • 44 MIN
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.  Resources: Josh Seiden on LinkedIn
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Competitive Analysis, Stage Gates, and Aligning Around Lofty Goals
September 21, 2022 • 22 MIN
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? Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Finding Agility Through Psychological Safety with Tara Scott
September 14, 2022 • 44 MIN
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. Resources 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
September 7, 2022 • 23 MIN
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? Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Driving Portfolio Management with Becky Flint
August 31, 2022 • 42 MIN
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.” Resources Becky Flint on the Web | LinkedIn | Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Transitioning into a Large Product Team, Collaborating with SMEs, and Internal Tools
August 24, 2022 • 24 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about what to expect when transitioning from a small to a large product team, how to work with subject matter experts that have strong opinions on product design, and making the case for creating an internal product team to support a growing organization.  Q: I've heard about the dangers of transitioning to a smaller team after being in a large organization, but I'm curious about movement in the other direction. Q: How can I help the team to make the most of everyone's expertise and work better together? Q: Do you have any suggestions for ways to frame a request to start an internal product team? Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Enabling Businesses with Climate Data with Gopal Erinjippurath
August 17, 2022 • 32 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Gopal Erinjippurath to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Gopal is the co-founder, CTO and Head of Product at Sust Global, a company whose mission is to “develop data-driven products that enable every business decision to be climate-informed so that humanity can thrive in a changing planet.” Gopal joins Melissa to discuss climate sustainability and why climate data is proving to be valuable to all kinds of organizations, how he tested and iterated to build this complex data product, how he’s de-risking bets in a rapidly evolving market, the balance of being mission-driven and commercially minded, and the importance of making product thinking part of an organization’s DNA.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Gopal talk about: Gopal talks about his professional background, how he got into climate sustainability, and what led him to found his company, Sust Global. [1:29] Melissa asks Gopal what type of companies purchase climate data products and services and how they use them in a professional capacity. Your long-term strategy should include holding financial instruments that directly correlate to tangible assets. There are several physical climate risks related to these assets, so ask targeted questions about the climate to protect your assets. [5:26] Gopal shares how he was inspired to go into the business of climate-related data and insights. [8:29] Melissa asks how Sust Global tested their climate-based data product. Gopal explains that the first step was “to start with the outcome rather than the outputs and work backward from there.” Creating mockups of the data-based outcome and testing them with the early set of gated customers can provide valuable feedback. [10:42] Melissa asks Gopal how Sust Global ensures that their climate data product is of the highest quality. Gopal suggests that the best approach is to “sandbox the data capability into an area that one customer cares about and wants to decide on, and then provide them with that data in the simplest form so they can try it and use it for the first time.” [14:22] Your data should fit three criteria: temporal - how fresh your database and data product is  geographic - dimensionality of your dataset, how it's partitioned before it is handed to customers, and what interfaces there are  the business problem [16:26] Gopal highlights the challenges Sust Global faced when creating their product. [19:06] “You must enable your team to stay on top of things and…to fundamentally have product thinking be part of the DNA of your team,” Gopal says. [20:19] Gopal looks at capacity building, strategy and execution when he is building a data-based product team. [22:07] Climate change is a space where it is possible to stay mission-aligned and also be highly commercially minded, due to the rising importance of ESG and climate change initiatives. [24:54] Resources  Gopal Erinjippurath on LinkedIn  Sust Global | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Scaling Up Teams, Defining User Value, and Workplace Burnout
August 10, 2022 • 22 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about scaling up a whole junior product team at once, how a listener can align her team’s KPIs to user value, and why product managers are more susceptible to experience burnout.  Q: What’s a successful approach to scaling up a team of junior PMs without leaving stragglers behind? [3:47] Q: How can a team responsible for security set measurable goals that show whether we're delivering real value to users when we're so far removed from the user value? [9:08] Q: What makes product people seemingly have a higher potential to experience workplace burnout? What can we do to proactively prevent or combat this? [13:19] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Moving Up to CPO with Amy Carmichael, John Martin & Simone Dive
August 3, 2022 • 29 MIN
In this special episode of the Product Thinking Podcast, Melissa Perri invites three graduates from her CPO Accelerator program to share their stories, insights, and advice about moving into the C-suite. Amy Carmichael of Crowdcube, John Martin of Housecall Pro, and Simone Dive of Clir Renewables all recently took on the Chief Product Officer role in their companies. They tell Melissa what it was like to make the jump, how the job differs from other product leadership roles, how to start practicing for the job now as an IC, and the skills they recommend strengthening if you hope to land a CPO job in the future.  Here are some key points they will be discussing: Amy, John, and Simone talk about their journey from entering the product field to becoming CPO. [2:16] Melissa asks the guests to reflect on the most surprising aspect of the CPO role. Simone highlights the human element of the product; for Amy it’s taking the time to plan product strategy, and John talks about going to market. [5:21] When transitioning into a CPO, you may need to finetune some skills to succeed in your new role. [8:29] Being a CPO is not only about managing teams and setting strategy – it's about understanding how your product and company fit into the larger market. [10:00] Although financial skills are important as a CPO, John believes that learning to invest in people was the biggest skill he needed to hone. He explains that product managers and product leaders are sought after, so it was important for him to develop his people skills and relationships with his team so they’re likely to stay with the company. [12:32] Melissa asks her guests how they managed to build relationships and foster collaboration with their new team. [14:20] Melissa asks her guests how IC roles can prepare a person to become CPO, and what they can do to put them on that path. [18:52] Simone advises aspiring CPOs to get comfortable not taking credit and to build relationships with the people who make executive decisions. [20:53] Amy, Simone, and John talk about how to evolve into a great CPO [25:11] Resources   Amy Carmichael on LinkedIn    John Martin on LinkedIn  Simone Dive on LinkedIn 
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Company Growing Pains
July 27, 2022 • 22 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about organizations that are at a crossroads. She talks about how to help reorganize a product hierarchy that’s lacking strategic product development, how to shake up an org that seems content to operate as a feature factory, and where to focus your company’s resources and energy during an economic downturn. Q: What would be a good way to separate the long-term work of gathering ideas and looking at market trends versus the shorter-term discovery and delivery work? [2:07] Q: Do you have any tips for how I can interact differently with a team who seems satisfied to operate like a feature factory? [9:07] Q: With a downturn in the economy, should I turn the attention of my product team more towards optimization rather than exploration? [16:11] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Exploring Product Management in Nonprofits with Steve MacLaughlin
July 20, 2022 • 36 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Steve Maclaughlin to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Steve is the Vice President of Product Management at Blackbaud, a cloud computing provider that serves clients within the social goods community. Steve shares his insights on what good product management looks like in nonprofit organizations, product managers as decision makers, the importance of benchmarking, and what it means to operate as a data-driven nonprofit.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Steve talk about:  Steve talks about his induction into the world of product management and why he started to help nonprofit organizations with product strategy. [2:04] Melissa asks Steve how to set product strategy and OKRs for nonprofits since they're not working towards increasing revenue but towards the greater good. He responds that the main objective as a product manager of a nonprofit is to "get revenue, keep revenue, grow revenue, and reduce cost". [4:42] To have a successful product that achieves your goals, you need the trifecta of time, talent, and treasure. [10:01] In today’s digital world, the product is the whole experience – it must be a holistic experience for the consumers. [13:43] Despite opposing opinions and ideas on strategy, product team members must ultimately make a decision that takes all perspectives into account. [18:50] Steve explains how he was led to the field of data-driven nonprofits and his journey to becoming a best-selling author with his book, "Data-Driven Nonprofits". [20:34] Data health, data quality, underlying technology, and data science are all important, but the most important thing is the culture surrounding the data. [22:18] Benchmarking is crucial in the nonprofit space: your organization can compare their progress to their competitors’ and determine how to replicate success. [24:42] It may be difficult to stay true to your original mission and vision while ensuring you’re progressing towards your goal, when running a nonprofit. Steve advises using data and benchmarking to measure your progress; more importantly, choose a goal that people would be interested in and build on it over time. [28:11] Melissa asks Steve how to balance keeping the long-term mission in play while ensuring that you're not just over-optimizing for revenue. Steve responds that best practice is to be "very firm on vision and very flexible on details". Once you achieve your vision and mission, it does not matter how many times the fine details of your plan change over time. [31:32] Resources  Steve MacLaughlin on LinkedIn | Twitter 
The Pivot Series, Part 4: Dear Melissa
July 13, 2022 • 19 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa wraps up our four-part series on pivots by answering some of our listener’s questions on the topic. She talks about pivots as “strategy theater,” how to know when to stay on track versus when to pivot, having back-up pivot strategies in case the first idea doesn’t pan out, and communicating strategies amongst other product teams.  Q: How often is a product strategy pivot one of the main players in a strategy theater performance? [4:22] Q: What are the best indicators that perseverance will not solve your lack of product-market fit problem? [8:07] Q: Do you line up your next pivots in case this one takes, hoping to find strategies that work? [11:22] Q: How do you go about effectively communicating your strategy to a wider organization for product teams? [14:25] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
The Pivot Series, Part 3: Thriving In Uncertainty with John Shapiro
July 6, 2022 • 40 MIN
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
The Pivot Series, Part 2: Reevaluating The Future with Alex Haefner
June 29, 2022 • 32 MIN
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 
The Pivot Series, Part 1: Embracing The Unknown with Colleen Johnson
June 22, 2022 • 37 MIN
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
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Panicked Startup Founders, Aligning Executives, and Vetting Startup Jobs
June 15, 2022 • 24 MIN
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
Following What Brings You Joy with Lenny Rachitsky
June 8, 2022 • 44 MIN
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
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Strategy, Discovery and Delivery
June 1, 2022 • 18 MIN
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
Empowering An Organization Through Product Operations with Scott White
May 25, 2022 • 43 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Scott White to this week’s episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Scott leads the product vertical at AirTable, so he shares how his own organization puts into place the tools and processes AirTable supports. Melissa and Scott discuss the many benefits of product operations and how it evolves as a company grows, “global alignment with local autonomy,” Melissa’s dream product ops set up, automated roadmap review, and product management in platform companies.   Here are some key points you’ll hear Scott and Melissa talk about:  Scott talks about his introduction to the product management field, his professional background, and what led him to AirTable. [2:02] Scott shares why he entered the product management sphere, how his product works, and the versatility of AirTable. [4:25] AirTable’s product development process and how product operations are conducted. Product development should be a company-wide concern and not solely the product team’s. “Great ideas can come from anywhere within an organization as long as people have the visibility and the context into why the organization is prioritizing what that they are,” Scott says. [14:44]  The evolution of product operations and when it is most essential to organizations of varying sizes. Scott says that there are two major points where your product operations should metamorphose: “One is when you need to improve your product desperately ….. Number two is when you're drastically increasing the complexity of your business.” [17:39] Scott shares how his product operations team sets goals, monitors strategy, and tracks the goals and metrics, to ensure that they're tackling the task at hand so that they can achieve their goals. [21:07] Scott reveals what he believes to be the most crucial practice that a product leader can implement when conducting product operations. “I think ultimately [as a product leader] it’s critical to understand the voice of your customers when you're building products.” [37:00] Melissa asks Scott about his transition from CEO to product leader and what aspects of his former role he carries into his new one. [38:58] Resources  Scott White | LinkedIn | Twitter 
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Product Management Outside of SaaS
May 18, 2022 • 19 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about product management in software vs hardware, SaaS vs e-commerce, and within the governmental sector. She covers the differences in product strategy, things all of these product jobs will have in common, how to figure out which tools apply to your industry and product type, and how to measure impact over time for products where results could take years to come by.  Q: Do you see a difference in the strategic and tactical delivery of customer value between a digital product and a physical product created through discrete manufacturing processes? Are there any major pitfalls that I should be aware of as I work with the product roadmap and product lifecycle management of a non-SaaS product? [2:01] Q: What are some key differences in SaaS product management teams versus product management teams inside of retailers? What advice would you give for someone in the new role who is also becoming a VP or an executive for the first time? [9:02] Q: How do you find good metrics when the effects of an improved road maintenance program might not show or pay off until years or decades later? How do we handle these kinds of outcomes when trying to measure the impact of our products? [12:12] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Leading a Product Organization with Paul Adams
May 11, 2022 • 42 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Paul Adams, Chief Product Officer at Intercom, to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. At Intercom since the days when they only had only 13 employees, Paul has helped shape the Product department from the ground up. Paul joins Melissa to talk through his approach to product leadership, what his day to day is like as CPO and why he hasn’t been in a product review in years, how to build trust within your organization, and embracing the “messy middle” when it comes to product strategy.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Paul talk about: Paul talks about his introduction to the field of product management, and how he became the Chief Product Officer at Intercom. [1:55] To have a successful product organization, three teams – product management, product design and research and data science – must work together harmoniously. [4:55] Paul believes that the best way to oversee all the different groups within a product organization is by appointing a trustworthy leader to each group and allowing them to have autonomy over their decisions. [6:51]  Paul cautions that the downfall of most organizations is the lack of trust from team leaders. Paul suggests that the teams have open conversations about “Why are they here? What do they not trust?” in order to build trust in the team. [15:03]  When choosing a new team leader or product manager, you have to build a relationship with them so they can trust you and vice versa. [16:12] For your organization to work in unison, the strategy must be clearly, concisely and accurately translated to the execution level, acknowledging the ever-changing trends. [ 20:25] When the company is reviewing the strategy in Google Docs, they urge employees to label their comments “major, minor or curious” in order of urgency. This creates a smooth-running system that maintains discipline. [25:46] The lines between sales, support, marketing, product, and project management need to be blurred. These teams should deeply collaborate in order to achieve collective success for the company. [27:50] For a company like Intercom to work harmoniously, a feedback loop for each team should be set up, where the problems to be solved for each group are shared so that the service can run as smoothly as possible. This only works if there is a strong relationship in the company. [34:05] Paul believes that surveys would be most beneficial to project managers as they collect and track first-party data, which allows them to send targeted ads/messages. [38:31] Resources  Paul Adams on LinkedIn | Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About User Research
May 4, 2022 • 22 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about when research is stale and needs to be revalidated, when and why to schedule frequent customer interviews, and understanding product success when conducting product trials. Q: Do you have any tips for identifying when previous validation of knowledge could be stale and might need to be revalidated before continuing work? [2:22] Q: What’s your advice for booking customer interviews? [9:17] Q: Do you have any tips beyond the usual customer surveys and interviews for understanding product success? [16:32] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Shifting How We Measure Success with Jeff Gothelf
April 27, 2022 • 46 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Jeff Gothelf to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. An experienced consultant in the Agile and Lean UX space, Jeff just released the third edition of his popular book, Lean UX. Jeff talks with Melissa about how he’s shifted focus to teaching about OKRs, and why he encourages the companies he consults with to adopt this goal-setting framework to measure success. He breaks down what OKRs are, why they can’t be the only product-led change a company adopts, how many OKRs there should be within an organization, what a good OKR looks like at the executive level, and why OKRs make a “great gateway drug” to organizational agility.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Jeff talk about: HR leadership, especially the performance, retention, and promotion factions, is taking an interest in new ways to measure success, Jeff shares. They want to learn how to deploy this new metric across their organizations so they can improve their overall internal and external performances. [5:03] Jeff shares how he educates clients about integrating their corporate strategy with their OKRs. “These things don’t exist in a vacuum and can’t be manufactured out of thin air,” he says. “They have to be derived from some kind of corporate strategy, product strategy, business unit strategy.” [9:19] Objectives are the qualitative goals that we would like to achieve; they are aspirational and inspirational, and the value of doing them should be clear. [11:02] When your teams are too independent, you run the risk of hyperlocal optimization, Jeff advises. “One of the better tactics that I've seen over the years is to take a set of teams and give them the same OKR set to hit,” he adds. “With those teams, we’ve defined what success is.” [19:09] Jeff describes an exercise he runs with most of his executive clients. They visualize the relationship between impact metrics and leading and lagging indicators in order to identify the outcomes they’re going to work toward. What this exercise ends up becoming is a top-to-bottom customer journey map. [25:44] Typically, teams get told what to build; they make a roadmap and get it approved. In Jeff’s OKR conversations with clients, he removes the output part of the process. They now have to discover what to build by practicing Lean UX, product discovery, and design thinking. Many organizations either don’t know how to do that, or they do and they make it difficult or impossible to execute the work. [33:09] Quarterly check-ins allow you to reflect on whether it makes sense to go towards the goals you’ve set for yourself. [38:06] Being a good storyteller is a key component of being a good product manager. A vast majority of product managers have to rely on bringing people together on a vision they’ve either built themselves or along with a team through storytelling, as they lead without authority. If you can tell a concise and compelling story that ties in the necessary information, that will be a valuable asset. [41:45] Resources Jeff Gothelf on LinkedIn | Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Finding a Partnership In Engineering, Moving Backward In Your Career, and Playing It SAFe
April 20, 2022 • 17 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about working with engineering leadership as a director of product, the idea of moving from a leadership position back to an individual contributor to gain a wider skillset, and whether or not SAFe is the answer for a small product org.  Q: What should my one-on-one’s with my engineering team look like as director of product? How do I find a partner and not an order-taker? [2:30] Q: Should we adopt SAFe? Any tips on what I should study up on and propose as a right solution to process and procedure? [6:56] Q: What advice would you have for someone who is considering stepping out of leadership and back into an IC role to grow their product skillset? [11:01] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Aligning Product Organizations with Adrian Howard
April 13, 2022 • 36 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Adrian Howard to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Adrian is an Agile Consultant and product coach with more than 25 years of experience, and specializes in coaching leaders around “those messy spaces where product delivery and user research overlap.” Adrian joins Melissa to talk about involving engineers in strategy building, the importance of meaningful strategy, aligning teams across large organizations with varying initiatives and goals, and why team vs team competition can lead to an organization’s downfall.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Adrian talk about: Adrian talks about his introduction to the agile and technical world. [1:58] When incorporating other disciplines such as engineering into product strategy, you need to involve user research and customer support to gain better insight on how a product is developing. [3:30] Before asking questions to your engineers as a product leader, make sure that they are on board and understand the company's strategy. "Your job as a leader is to help either provide that direction, or talk to the people in your organization to discover what directions they think is useful and find a way of prioritizing and aligning about that," Adrian says. [5:14] Too many teams do not feel aligned with the goals of the company, or don’t feel like they have a piece of value that they can deliver on. [9:57] Have conversations about value at the lower levels. Oftentimes these conversations happen at the top, and by the time those conversations reach the bottom level, they're more about effort and work rather than the outcomes. [14:23] Orgs should stop pitting teams against each other, and instead treat their teams as groups collectively trying to deliver on a larger set of values. [20:30] Adrian talks about the competition mindset being ingrained in some company cultures and how he's helped them move away from that. [23:26] "Just asking for the rest of your team to solve a problem that you have pulled out of thin air isn't leadership of the C-suite…that is hoping to steal the credit from the people who are actually coming up with ideas and hoping they'll manage to solve your problem for you," Adrian remarks. [27:48] Usability testing has to be done in tandem with user research to fix organizational gaps, and it also has to be actionable. [31:05] Resources Adrian Howard | LinkedIn | Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Dual Track Agile, Processing Negative Feedback, and Starting as a New CPO
April 6, 2022 • 23 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about what it looks like when teams are successfully running delivery and discovery in parallel, and the two reasons teams typically struggle with delivery, throwing yourself back in the ring after a disheartening work experience has left you feeling discouraged and frustrated (and asking yourself some hard questions), and where to focus your efforts when starting a new CPO role. Q: How do we do discovery and delivery together for dual-track agile? [1:59] Q: What do you do when a job experience as a product manager has left you so burned out that it makes you afraid to take on that responsibility? [9:29] Q: As a new CPO, where should I start and how should I sequence with regards to building out the team hires, culture, systems, and processes? [17:34] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Getting Your Users Hooked with Nir Eyal
March 30, 2022 • 43 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Nir Eyal to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. He is an author, lecturer, and investor best known for his book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Nir joins Melissa to talk about the Hook model, product ethics, serving “chocolate-covered broccoli'' to your users, Wordle, internal vs. external triggers, and what inspired his newest book, Indistractable.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Nir talk about: Nir talks about his introduction to the world of product management, and what led him to write his book. [2:12] A product has to be used with frequency. If it's not used often enough, it's almost impossible to change customer habits. If a product is intended to be used with sufficient frequency, ideally within a week's time or less, it's a good candidate for the Hook model. "It's not that every product has to be habit-forming…It's that every product that is habit-forming needs to have a hook," Nir tells Melissa. [6:00] Look at what competitors are doing in order to improve your products, but also look at who is doing the best out of everyone in the market. To build a product that sticks, model the companies that are the masters of changing habits. Make a product that people will love, and will want to use. [8:10] As long as a product is used with sufficient frequency, and provides utility, it doesn't matter if its consumers are online or offline. [11:25] The Hook model is useful as a diagnostic tool to help product leaders understand when their products aren't satisfying their customers. It helps them create a guide on how to build new products and refine the problems that are in their existing ones. [13:08] Internal triggers are states of discomfort that cause people to use products. It's the job of the product designer to understand what that trigger is, and how their product satisfies it better than the alternatives. [15:28] To create engagement with products, a lot of companies tend to do gamification. The problem with gamification, however, is that it falls flat. Nir says that product leaders end up making “chocolate-covered broccoli”. "Before we understand the problem, we really have to understand the psychological need, [and the] core level human stressors that our product is going to address," he tells Melissa. [16:29] "Anytime you can find a customer need with a question mark at the end, that's a variable reward," Nir remarks. [17:43] If companies want long-term engagement, they have to look for instances that are not game-like, unless those games involve other people. Nir stresses that it's the connections with people that keep individuals engaged. [20:04] There are two categories of triggers: internal and external. External triggers are the 'pings and dings' that occur outside of ourselves that make us use products. The ultimate goal of product development is for customers to use the product on their own without the use of external triggers. If this hasn't happened, then the external trigger hasn't been properly timed. When sending external triggers, they have to be contextually relevant for internal triggers. [22:34] Melissa asks about the possibility of products becoming addictive, and customers developing bad habits when it comes to using them. "For the vast majority of people listening, the problem is not that people are overusing the product...the problem is people won't use the product," he remarks. However, he agrees that some form of legislation needs to be put in place by companies in their use and abuse policies. [27:11] Nir talks about the principles product leaders can implement into their company culture to limit distraction. He also talks about the importance of schedule sinking and time boxing. [35:13] Resources Nir Eyal | LinkedIn | Twitter Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products Indistractible
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Three Types of Product Management, Articulating Strategy, and Who Should Own P&L
March 23, 2022 • 23 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about differentiating between types of product management depending on the growth stage of a company, how to successfully craft strategy documents that communicate your vision, and how P&L responsibilities should be distributed across teams.  Q: Are there three types of product management? [2:11] Q: Any tips for writing a strategy document? [9:13] Q: How does product owning the P&L impact relationships with more traditional revenue-driving teams like sales and success? Has this worked out well for the companies you've worked with? [15:04] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Striving For Mindful Leadership with Sam McAfee
March 16, 2022 • 44 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Sam McAfee to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Sam is the founder of Startup Patterns, where he coaches teams and leadership how to attain the human skills necessary in successful product transformations. Melissa and Sam discuss how to strengthen emotional intelligence, how to hone your leadership skills as an IC, and what a truly courageous leader looks like.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Sam talk about: Sam talks about his induction into the field of product management and his professional background. [2:00] Mindful leadership is being able to grow and collaborate with your teams while also paying attention to what you're thinking and feeling as a product leader, and using that information to enhance and enrich your interactions with others. [8:46] The biggest red flag in terms of leadership skills, Sam cautions, is overworked employees. "The reason why that would be a red flag is that it is an indication that there isn't a clear prioritization, or there isn't a clear vision.” This can lead to burnout. [10:43] The first step in building mindful leadership skills is taking time out of each day to reflect. Reflection builds emotional intelligence, which helps build empathy. Leaders who reflect often slow down and observe their own thoughts and behaviors, making them proactive rather than reactive. [15:00] To practice mindfulness as a leader, start observing people's behavior and words. During your interactions with others, try to see things from their perspective, and imagine what they might be thinking or feeling in those moments. Having the courage and compassion to ask others how they're feeling is also an important part of mindful leadership. [21:00] One of the key things in helping product management hone leadership skills is making sure that the product team is aligned in their purpose and objectives. Building relationships is another important aspect. "A product manager needs to have a really good relationship with everyone on the team; they need to understand what people skills are, what their motivations are," Sam tells Melissa. Having curiosity about your people and being intentional with gathering information about everyone's strengths in order to leverage them properly will do wonders for you as a product leader. [27:20] Leaders have to know when to relinquish control. This requires courage and vulnerability but it is important in order to properly transform the work culture within organizations. [32:44] One vital part of courageousness in leadership is saying no to what isn't essential. It is the job of senior management to figure out the vision, decide strategy and then convey that to the rest of the organization, and also to prioritize what is important and what isn't. [35:57] Sam shares what leaders should be looking for when trying to grasp strategy and product initiative. He shares the importance of observing the markets you're in when deciding on strategy. [38:16] Resources Sam McAfee | LinkedIn | Twitter Startup Patterns
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Approaching Discovery Mode, Aligning Team Strategies, and Missing Company Visions
March 9, 2022 • 21 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about how to successfully lead the discovery process at a new company with a strong product culture, how to align product strategies across large corporations, and what questions to ask when your organization doesn’t have a clear vision statement to work from. Q: Do you have any strategies or steps that can help me with feeling more empowered? [0:45] Q: What do you recommend large product organizations do so that strategies are aligned? [7:25] Q: What should I do if my company is missing a vision statement? [12:42] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About AI and Platform Products, Being New to Product Ops, and People Management in Product
February 23, 2022 • 19 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about data, AI, and platform products, transitioning from project management to product operations, and how to navigate a lead engineering role that is intertwined with both product and people management responsibilities.  Q: How do you do discovery and write requirements for data, AI, and platform products? [1:09] Q: What are some tips and tricks you would recommend for a first-time product operations manager coming from a project management role? What do you think are the most important things to do during the first 30 days on the job? [8:17] Q: Can people and product management really mix? Do you have any tips for making sure both domains can run smoothly without interference? [13:15] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Facilitating Culture Change with Douglas Ferguson
February 16, 2022 • 41 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Douglas Ferguson on this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Douglas is the President and Founder of Voltage Control, a change agency focused on helping teams implement new approaches to old systems. He joins Melissa to talk about the realities and challenges of influencing corporate culture, and shares his wisdom on how and where to start your own process of change at your organization.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Douglas talk about: Before getting started with any change initiative, companies should sit down and assess where they are in their change journey. Douglas always starts with the people - those who are on board with change, and the ones who are opposed to it. When you can identify who the key players are, you can tailor your approach to the specific climate of the company. [3:30] Leaders need to ask themselves what kind of change they want to see in their organizations. Identify the most important change that you want to see, and focus there. Oftentimes leaders get distracted by changes that are alluring, instead of focusing on the smaller changes that are right in front of them. Focusing on the key outcomes the change is going to drive for the organization is far more important. [5:55] "It's healthy to step back and even just look at why am I trying to do this culture change," Douglas tells Melissa. He adds that exploring the purpose of change can lead to some epiphanies about what can be done during a particular timeline, and what could not be done. [9:34] When it comes to the detractors in the organization, it's better to understand that they operate on a spectrum. There will be individuals who oppose your suggestions simply because it's personal, but there are also the passive detractors. The passive detractors are neutral and are more skeptical. However, it is possible to bring them around to the changes you want to implement. They simply need a bit more detail and convincing but once they get it, they will become advocates for you. [14:45] It is a lot harder to tell if an executive is committed to change, if you're an individual inside the organization. Consultants that are brought in are usually able to tell from the start. Douglas gives some practical tips on how employees can gauge how committed their employers and leaders are to change. He also shares some questions employees can ask. [17:35] Team level product managers are capable of making change impacts in their organizations. Anyone, no matter where they are in the company, can make a change. Douglas illustrates this using points from the book "Start Within," that he co-authored with Karen Host. If you feel passionate enough about making a change in your company, just do it. [21:31] Breaking through the mentality of 'We can't do this; it's not allowed' at organizations starts with inquiry. Start asking provocative questions about why certain processes aren't performed in the organization. [25:45] Douglas gives tips on what product managers and designers can do to challenge regulations that hinder them from productivity and innovation. One such tip is to befriend the legal department. [29:11] Figure out strategy before you decide to implement change. Douglas and Melissa touch on OKRs and its role as a strategy deployment tool. "OKRs is a strategy deployment technique but if there's no strategy how are you going to deploy it," Melissa says. [35:58] Douglas cautions against putting together a perfect vision of how you think the world should be when giving presentations. "You're not changing, you're not adapting, you're not verifying assumptions that you have about the organization or about how things could work," he says. Be willing to change, be willing to listen and tweak your vision as you go along, and you and the business will be a lot happier for it. [38:33] Resources Douglas Ferguson | LinkedIn | Twitter Voltage Control
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Market Research Skills, Reactive Product Management, and Career Next Steps
February 9, 2022 • 17 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about learning how to do market research to move up in your career as a product manager, creating products in highly commoditized B2B enterprise markets, and what you should look for in a company when moving from an early-stage startup to an established organization. Q: Do you have any advice on how to improve market research skills? [2:05] Q: How do you escape the trap of a reactive product mindset in a highly commoditized enterprise market? [5:17] Q: What should I look for in a larger company to find a place where my early stage experience is an asset and not a liability? Any other advice on making the transition from early to growth stage companies? [10:18]   Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Part 2: Digging Deeper into SAFe with Eric Willeke
February 2, 2022 • 52 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes back Eric Willeke for part two of this SAFe conversation on the Product Thinking Podcast. Eric and Melissa pick up where they left off and dive into the product management and portfolio management parts of SAFe, discussing how product management fits into the SAFe architecture and how it works at scale.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Eric talk about: Product management needs to create an organization that is capable of making strategy real. [4:04] "If you are impacting the market through your work, that's changing your strategy and you need that feedback loop," Eric tells Melissa. [6:36] Eric advises thinking of design strategies and guidelines like visual tables of contents. "What we're looking for when we look at the picture is an entry point, a place I can click; and if I know nothing about the product discipline, I can start to dig in and look at design thinking and understand," he remarks. [8:25] In Fortune 50 companies, for every agile technical domain there is usually only one expert. At the core, Eric stresses, it's about learning and teaching. "If we want to crack the product problem Fortune 50 starts with education and getting people to think differently, and creating an environment that can select for a different set of behaviors." [15:30] To change a company culture, leaders have to first ask themselves what must be true for the company to be a healthy environment. Think about the problem you're trying to solve then act as if it's the future when that problem is already solved. This mindset creates belief. [17:51] Companies that started with continuous deployment and architecting for flow, manage to avoid more problems than companies who didn't begin that way. [24:28]. Good portfolio implementation for SAFe is based on maintaining relationships and determining the money flow. Portfolio management is conveying strategy into a structure that can implement it. [28:28] Strategy is a continuous behavior leaders must immerse themselves in. Strategy cannot be mechanical, Melissa adds. "You can't get an inspired creative process nor can you get an evolving flow-based architecture out of a mechanical strategy and environment," Eric comments. [36:52] When asked what he would change about SAFe, Eric lists a few things: anchoring on the competency world view as opposed to the table of contents view, more emphasis on the customer as the center of the big picture, and making core values and mindset a priority. [45:32] Eric gives advice for companies just getting started with SAFe, and what they should look for before deciding to adopt the framework. [48:22] Resources Eric Willeke | LinkedIn | Twitter Elevate
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Startup Roadmaps, Buy-In vs. Consensus, and Restructuring at Scale
January 26, 2022 • 25 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about how roadmaps fit into an early stage company, the difference between gaining buy-in as a leader and reaching team consensus, delineating ownership as a leadership team, and how to restructure teams when your organization starts operating at scale. Q: Do you have any suggestions for creating the product roadmap per quarter in a startup company? [1:10] Q: As a product leader, how do you decide where to draw the line between activities you need to lead versus activities you would be more successful with if you had buy-in from your team? How do you draw lines of responsibility and ownership between VP, product director, product managers, and other supporting team members, when as a product director, your responsibility is to lead the product team, the product managers report to you, and there's overlap with what you and the VP are both currently doing in directing team activities? [6:02] Q: How do we best evaluate which parts of the product we build our teams around? What are some common pitfalls when restructuring a product delivery organization to operate at scale? [16:11] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Building a Product Ecosystem with Lisa Schneider
January 19, 2022 • 41 MIN
Lisa Schneider is the Chief Product Officer at Framework Homeownership. Previously, she was the Chief Digital Officer at Merriam-Webster, where she led digital strategy and execution and redefined the dictionary for the digital age. Lisa joins Melissa Perri on this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast to share her expertise on crafting great vision and mission statements, the role of the product leader, bridging the gap between sales and product, and why being an integrator is powerful.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Lisa talk about:  How Lisa got started in product management. [1:55] Asking yourself ‘Why?’ is part of the product mindset when developing a new vision and mission. Figure out why you want a new vision and mission, then develop a strategy to bridge them together. Lisa advises that you should not mix the strategy into the mission because it makes the mission become too specific instead of universal. She also cautions against aligning product teams and squads to strategy too much because strategy changes. [7:57] The product vision is a reminder of the ultimate product goal so that teams remember what they're working towards. Product leaders need to create an environment of stability and empathy where their teams don't feel constant uncertainty when strategy changes. [11:36] Product leaders need to propose solutions but also give their teams room to be creative. [13:35] Lisa talks about how she became a Chief Product Officer. [15:44] "The role of the product leader - the real opportunity for the product leader - is to be somebody that understands that entire ecosystem and understands how to integrate it," Lisa stresses. The product leader has to be the one to bridge the gap in organizations where sales and product operate in silos. They have to be the one to have conversations with both departments and gain insight on what they know about the product, and what they need. Asking those questions becomes part of your product research, and it also allows the teams in these departments to take ownership of the product and in turn, they become more invested in the product's outcome. [20:00] Being an integrator within your organization is powerful and important. Asking questions about what people need and how you can help them get there will make you influential within the organization. [23:48] The key to facilitating a problem-solving mindset is less talking about what needs to be done and actually doing it. "Get everyone in a room and start modeling," Lisa suggests. "Lead the conversation and show people how this works." [24:34] Lisa shares her advice for future product leaders. [29:36] To foster a product mindset in organizations that never had it, focus on the outcomes. See yourself as the “product” and think about how you can create an excellent user experience. Be the bridge between leadership and the teams that work with you. [33:46] Resources Lisa Schneider | LinkedIn | Twitter Framework Homeownership
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Adding in Prod Ops, When to Move On, and What a CPO Should Know
January 12, 2022 • 20 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about building product operations teams, staying in a position you love vs. diversifying your experiences, and how much a CPO actually needs to know about the inner workings of their product.  Q: How can an organization make the pivot from being reactionary in their product initiatives to being driven by market research and data? What kind of talent should a product leader be on the lookout for when building this type of team from the ground up? [2:04] Q: How should I balance my love for my current company and role with the pressure to explore new opportunities? [8:39] Q: As a CPO, do I invest the same amount of time in understanding everything about the product, particularly with a complex and feature-rich B2B product? Or should I focus on creating the necessary conditions to transform the product culture of the company? How advanced does my product knowledge need to be? [14:36] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Marrying Product Management and Engineering with Maura Kelly
January 5, 2022 • 34 MIN
Maura Kelly is VP of Engineering at Mailchimp. With over 17 years of experience in the tech industry, Maura is an expert in software development and programming. She joins Melissa Perri on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast to provide engineering’s point of view, and to share helpful tips that will improve the way you as a product manager are collaborating with developers.   Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Maura talk about in this episode: Maura’s traditional path to engineering, and her experience at Mailchimp, where the culture is about empowering the underdog. [1:45] Mailchimp’s first product managers came from other internal disciplines and were workers who already knew Mailchimp and their customers very well. Over time, they continued nurturing people into product managers and started hiring people with product management experience externally. They also mixed up the teams, so that people new to Mailchimp could learn from veterans of the company. [5:44] There is a misconception that engineers don’t care about customers and should keep their heads down doing code, Melissa says. “Engineers want to work on stuff that matters,” Maura claims. They want to be part of a larger mission that makes a difference; it motivates them and enhances their performance. If your head stays down, it’s hard to know the context and information that can help you build a better product. “First solve the problem, then write the code,” she adds. [11:03] Why engineers should be involved in the discovery process, and how this can be done. [12:12] Combining something that someone wants to do with something the company needs, is a great way to both solve a problem and motivate an employee. Maura shares how Mailchimp conducts this ‘management magic.’ [15:05] Melissa and Maura explore how product managers and engineers can work with leadership to ensure their teams focus on the right things. If there are people that aren't a good fit or aren't doing the best work that they could be doing for whatever reason, that should be discussed at the leadership level. [17:16] One thing people don’t realize about engineering is that there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Not only do they write code for solving customer problems, but they also have to write that code to certain coding standards; they’re also getting code reviews, giving them to other people, thinking about the security of the feature they’re writing, among other things. [20:35] Product managers often struggle with understanding the technical side of building a feature. Melissa asks Maura how they should be checking in with the engineering team about the timeline of things that need to be done. [25:28] Resources Maura Kelly on LinkedIn | Twitter
Reflecting on 2021 and Predictions for 2022
December 29, 2021 • 18 MIN
On this episode of The Product Thinking Podcast, Melissa Perri is looking back on 2021. She is reflecting on the learnings and conversations she had about product strategy and product management. Melissa shares her tips for product leaders, and what they need to be focusing on within their organizations as they enter the new year.   Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa talk about:  The conversation is shifting towards product thinking - not just in the sense of adopting and implementing processes, but asking what it really means to think like a product manager. Product leaders are now critically thinking about what the systems they use and how they interact with each other, as well as how they can influence people they don't have direct authority over. Product leaders are also starting to utilize their skills across different platforms. It's not only about process anymore, but also product strategy and product operations. [2:12] Product leaders need to have systems in place that help them scale. They also need to have product operations processes that can gather data and pass it along to product managers so that they can implement product strategy. [5:19] Product led growth is not a replacement for sales. Product led growth is simply your product being so good that it sells itself. Companies need to work on their onboarding if they decide they want to go in the direction of product led growth. [9:16] Product managers need to think about the way they deliver value to customers, and whether or not doing so takes away from the ecosystems their customers live in. "If we have a responsibility as product managers to build great products for our customers, we also have to make sure that we're not inadvertently hurting other people," Melissa advises. [10:40] It's important as a product manager to pay attention to the new technologies on the market. Pay attention to what investors are investing in, and think about what value you can harness to your customers from these new technologies. [14:38] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Our Best Advice on Strategy and Roadmaps
December 22, 2021 • 34 MIN
As the year comes to a close, leaders are looking to the future and figuring out how to build out their roadmaps for 2022. On this week’s Product Thinking Podcast, Melissa Perri shares clips of some of the best insights on roadmap creation and strategic planning at different levels of an organization so that leaders can start off the new year right.  Here are some of the key points that were talked about: When building a roadmap, don't assume you can predict the future. Focus on the products that are being built now, so you can have near-term certainty with planning. Executive teams have to do discovery work if they want better estimates. [1:30] Product management needs to be tied to strategic decisions within the business. They have to be involved in the conversation around revenue growth, product growth and expansion because they need to understand the vision of the business. [6:50] Companies need Vision Led Product Management. This means being definitive about what the value of your product is, who it's being provided for and where the differentiation is going to lie. It's essentially having all the components of a product vision. [10:52] Before building a product strategy at a small scale, first figure out if one already exists at your organization. If there is, and it's being executed poorly, figure out what the essential goals are. If there’s no product strategy, do whatever you can to find out and understand the goals of the executives. Once you understand those goals, you can start to build your own product strategy. [13:46] To set strategy, leaders have to be the ones to make the choices about what to invest in for the growth of the business. They have to think about what skillsets they wish to grow in the company, what technologies they want to implement and what they can do to differentiate themselves from their competitors in 2-3 years' time. [20:30] If your sales team is going outside your company's product definition by a great deal, then you most likely don't truly understand the market your product is for. Product leaders need to communicate product-market fit to their sales teams and understand that they as product leaders don't make all the decisions. There has to be an alignment between strategy and communication in the organization. [27:09] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Dissecting the Pluses and Pitfalls of SAFe with Eric Willeke
December 15, 2021 • 44 MIN
Eric Willeke, SAFe Principal Contributor, trainer, and Fellow, is a co-founder of Elevate Consulting where he teaches executives how to lead agile transformations. Eric joins Melissa Perri on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast to talk all about the pros and cons of SAFe, and to share their personal experiences with this often polarizing agile framework.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Eric talk about in this episode: How Eric first started in the field of SAFe. [2:49] There is a huge divide within companies who adopt SAFe between what the product managers do versus what product owners do. It's hard getting those two disciplines to work together for various reasons. This divide hurts the product field because it makes it hard to level up people and careers. [8:51] The role and function of product owners and product managers are essentially the same. Product owners make product-centric decisions for a team of people who want to create amazing technology products. Product managers do the same thing but on a larger scale, and think further ahead. Product managers have more of a roadmap, and more of an abstract view; they see in terms of quarters as opposed to product managers’ monthly timeline. [11:41] Melissa asks what a product management career path looks like in the world of SAFe. "Is a stack of bigger titles equivalent to career progression?" Eric responds. The important thing is whether collaboration is happening along each point in the 'stack'. Are the people in the smaller teams working with the people in the larger teams and are they doing so effectively? [14:28] Melissa and Eric talk about why individuals may deviate from the given product management career path. [16:47] To bridge the gap between the frameworks that are made specifically for digital transformation in companies and software, product people need to consider a few things. These include the products you're selling, the top-level customer-facing service you're offering, and how software helps you do that. The software product people are there to improve the digital transformation and digital enablement experience across the organization. [21:47] Eric talks about the role of the lean portfolio. [27:30] Software product people have a breadth of responsibility within enterprises and very little opportunities for innovation. A lot of product management within this realm is learning enough about one side, and what is actually possible on the other side, then bridging those two together to make innovative leaps. [31:50] Organizations need to provide deep and narrow product visions. You don't want to have ten thousand ideas and visions running around within a company because it's chaotic. Start from strategy, go to prioritization, then look at your teams and who is going to be affected. [33:25] Eric gives tips on how to decide how many product managers to have in your organization. [36:47] Resources Eric Willeke | LinkedIn | Twitter Elevate Consulting
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Public Roadmaps, Project Management, Product Practice, and More
December 8, 2021 • 18 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about topics across the board- she covers the responsibilities of a Director and VP of Product Management, how to get in your product reps outside of work, her thoughts on sharing your roadmaps with your customer, and product managers vs project managers.  Q: Do Directors of Product Management pull out of the day-to-day and just manage the departments? [1:34] Q: How might a non-technical PM find or develop products outside of work? [4:39] Q: Should we make our roadmap public? What are the complications that may arise if we do? [7:21] Q: How do the roles of project and product managers differ? Where do you see the practical and pragmatic product management's response to value delivery when there are time and money constraints? [9:51] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Testing Your Ideas with David Bland
December 1, 2021 • 45 MIN
David Bland is the founder of Precoil, a company that helps organizations find product market fit through assessing risk and experimentation, and the co-author of Testing Business Ideas. David joins Melissa Perri on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast to talk about how to identify your assumptions, experimenting within slower feedback cycles, the importance of aligned confidence, and how product leaders have to continuously walk the walk when it comes to experimentation and de-risk.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and David talk about in this episode: David talks about his professional background and how he first got started in the field of business testing. [1:49] David’s framework that uses themes from design thinking to define risk and identify assumptions. Experiment in the areas where there is the least amount of evidence. [3:32] Many product teams put too much emphasis on feasibility but they also need to focus on desirability. Talk to customers to figure out if they want the product itself; if they are, figure out cost and revenue. [4:46] David advises product managers to start with the business model and understand it; that will inform the plan for how the business is going to make money and how the product is going to impact their business. [6:44] "What are the leading indicators that would predict that someone's going to renew? You should be able to start thinking through what are these touchpoints that would lead to somebody renewing, and how do we remove the friction from that?” David tells Melissa. [8:28] The biggest hurdle to experimentation is time. If you don't have time, you are going to take the easy route. The goal is not to run experiments. The goal is to de-risk what you're working on to make better investment decisions. [13:11] If a company is in a check-the-box mentality, it's not in the right condition to learn experimentation. You need to think about how you're de-risking, and changing your mindset and approach to processes within your organizations. David talks about the way he's designed his training programs to help companies with this problem. [16:55] Repetition is key as product leader. Don't stop talking about the way you want your teams to run because you think they no longer need to hear it. "It's part of your job as leaders to keep repeating this, and showing it, and enabling it and creating a culture and environment where people can work this way," David says. [19:38] David talks about experimenting around product strategy from a higher level, what types of experiments he's seen at that level and what experiments he advises product leaders to run. [20:38] One of the main problems with experimentation is that companies often fall into the realm of testing on their customers as opposed to testing with their customers. It should be about co-creation instead. [32:36] If you focus on customer value, you don't always have to have a finished product. It can be a service. Once you're fulfilling a need for that customer, or solving a problem that's valuable to a customer, or performing a service, you can start charge for that service. [35:30] David talks about companies that have been doing experimentation well. [38:00] Resources David Bland | LinkedIn | Twitter Precoil
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Navigating Your Role as a Product Manager
November 24, 2021 • 20 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about what responsibilities and roles a product manager should take on in various scenarios. She talks through working alongside a UX researcher, responsibilities around maintaining strategy when the bigger picture is unclear, and the do’s and don’ts of working under a new superior. Q: When do you think a UX researcher should be involved to support discovery, and what activities should they take on within discovery? [3:21] Q: How should product managers maintain strategic fit in large corporations, especially in the midst of CEO changes, COVID-19, and new technology trends? How do you balance user-centricity versus internal business value and strategic fit? How am I responsible as a product manager to completely manage all of these vision changes versus what our senior management does, making sure our strategy is adapting? [8:09] Q: Do you have any advice for navigating the new normal [of having a new superior]? [15:32] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Making the Case for Product Operations with Denise Tilles
November 17, 2021 • 29 MIN
Denise Tilles is an experienced product leader, consultant, and coach who has spent her career helping organizations transform opportunity into product vision. She specializes in product strategy, organizational design, and product operations. Denise joins Melissa Perri on this week’s episode to argue strongly in favor of the need for Product Operations as organizations start to scale.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Denise talk about in this episode: How Denise got started in the field of product operations. [1:57] Denise and Melissa explain why they strongly disagree with Marty Cagan’s recent post characterizing Product Ops as simply “process people.” Product ops helps organizations actually scale, and helps teams inform, deploy, and monitor their product strategy. [3:20] There are three tenets of product operations: business and data insights, customer and market research, and processes and practices. Processes and practices concerning areas of product management are especially important as they allow teams to get the work done. Clear roadmaps prevent individuals within organizations from working in silos and contribute to a healthy product culture. [4:54] Many organizations have lots of differing styles of roadmaps that make it difficult to reconcile critical decisions. What they should be doing instead, Melissa says, is have processes in place that standardize strategic decision-making with clarity and transparency. Denise remarks that these aspects of product management are being left to the wayside, putting unreasonable expectations on product managers and that that needs to change. [6:04] Product operations teams are very powerful in that they help product leaders think about how they are measuring, what they are doing consistently, and how they can be truly transformative. Product ops is about enabling product leaders and managers to make decisions. [9:44] When looking for a product analyst, you need to hire someone who’s great at crunching the numbers and more importantly, good at extracting actionable insights. You need a diplomatic person who can help product managers understand how and why the data is being used by the product team. [11:45] Denise and Melissa talk about democratizing customer research. It puts time back into the product manager’s hands so they can focus on more important matters.[15:00] Product managers often don't focus on the market research, but to understand different trends, or how the market is moving, they need to. [18:46] The skillsets of product ops people have to be diverse because product ops has three disparate functions. “You're not going to hire the same type of person as a product ops person across this entire area. It's more about really figuring out what you need in each one of those cases and then going from there,” Melissa says. [24:18] Resources Denise Tilles | LinkedIn | Twitter Produx Labs
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Thinking Outside The Box
November 10, 2021 • 21 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about what domain experts can do to learn more about product, how high of a level product people can achieve in organizations outside of SaaS or software companies, and what the right process is for rebuilding a product. Her answers have a core theme in common: as a product person, thinking outside the box and looking for opportunities for disruption is always a good idea. Q: Do you have any advice on how I can overcome some of the common pitfalls that arise as a result of being a domain expert and product manager? Where should I focus my career development to become an amazing product manager that can tackle any problem? [1:54] Q: What's the highest product role you typically see outside of SaaS or software companies? Do you see a trend of more CPO roles in more traditional companies like banks or insurance? Do you think they should have that role or does a VP or SVP of products suffice when the core product is in software? [7:38] Q: What’s the best way to approach rebuilding a product? [11:56] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Identifying Patterns in Product with John Cutler
November 3, 2021 • 50 MIN
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
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Early PM Career Strategy
October 26, 2021 • 28 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers questions about approaching your product management career thoughtfully and strategically. She covers what PMs are particularly good at and how to reframe the idea of PMs being “generalists,” what she thinks about product management certification courses and FAANG companies, and what taking an alternate route via product operations would look like.   Q: What tips would you give to someone who is concerned about being a generalist? [2:06] Q: Should a product manager aim for a start-up or one of the FAANG companies in the beginning of their career? [8:13] Q: What is the career track for product operations, and how do you support a person to grow in this role? [16:06] Q: Are product management certificate courses worth the effort, and which do you recommend? [20:34] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Debating User Research, Experimentation and the PM Role with Kent Beck
October 20, 2021 • 46 MIN
This episode of Product Thinking Melissa interviews Extreme Programming Founder and Agile Manifesto signatory Kent Beck. Kent has had a prolific career in software development, including a role as Technical Coach at Facebook from 2011-2018, and is now a Fellow at Gusto. Melissa and Kent share their thoughts on where and when user research should fit into the product development process, the “3X” development model Kent originated while at Facebook, incentivizing employees, and what Extreme Programming looks like 20 years later.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Kent talk about in this episode: The greatest value is created when you have somebody with the capability to talk to somebody with the need. [4:55] How the role of software development and product management changes depending on the phase of customer experience. [8:32] There are pros and cons to customer research. On one hand, it’s useful to determine what features people like and dislike. On the other, there have been times where customer research indicated something wasn’t advisable, yet when it was launched, it was successful. Snapchat and the iPhone are prime examples. [11:02] Kent tells Melissa, “If the incentives are there to not [do something], they're not going to [do it]... Incentives are about storytelling, meaning, purpose, fellowship, personal growth, and the sense of mastery.” [17:49] It’s important that companies have causal, low-stakes interactions with people whose lives are affected by the decisions they make. [24:56] People often forget that finding and emphasizing purpose is hugely energizing. Something as simple as identifying your goal and throwing a party when you accomplish it can motivate your employees. [33:32] To be a good coach, you need to be able to apply the knowledge you have in different ways and be a good storyteller. You also need empathy and credibility. [37:54] “If XP wants to come back and be a force [to be reckoned with], we need to have ways of addressing its inequities. We can't reject half the people in the world because they have two X chromosomes, we can't reject two-thirds of the people in the world because their skin happens to be brown. We have to both become aware of and navigate the power differentials that we all bring into software development,” Kent shares. Resources Kent Beck on LinkedIn
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Compromise and Collaboration
October 13, 2021 • 19 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about learning how to compromise and collaborate with fellow product managers and new team members. Q: How do I work with other PMs in a productive manner and avoid an unhealthy competitive atmosphere? [1:41] Q: How can I improve a relationship with a new PM and our ability to collaborate? [6:31] Q: How do you determine how much you need to reduce the scope of a feature when defining an MVP? Do you have any ideas for how my PM and I can come to an agreement? [13:36] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Identifying Survival Metrics with Adam Thomas
October 6, 2021 • 34 MIN
Adam Thomas is a product management expert, speaker, writer, and the Lead Product Manager at SmartRecruiters. Adam has spent his professional life helping teams reduce friction and craft product strategies that lead to better outcomes for their organizations. He joins Melissa Perri on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast to discuss a concept he developed called survival metrics, which enables product teams to change direction safely and quickly.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Adam talk about in this episode: Adam's professional background and how he got into product management. [2:13] Survival metrics as a concept were created by observing the process that goes into building a product. It's born out of the psychology of thinking about what the customer needs. [7:37] The mark of a good survival metric is action. The metric should be something that helps people in the organization understand what steps need to be taken and why those steps are important. Conversely, a bad survival metric has no direction - it’s more 'go with the flow', vague, and subjective. [9:25] Your company's metrics strategy is tied to the anchor of your vision and mission. This is important because it is what's going to drive your organization forward. [11:39] Survival metrics are tied to a company's culture and are developed through employee feedback. When building a product, find out what employees care about and what their incentives are. The more that product managers do this, the better understanding they would have of the company culture. [16:36] Every project product managers work on should have at least one aspect of the 'stop, pivot, and invest' concept. This will get product managers in the mindset of not just thinking about the bad, but also the good. [19:58] When Adam trains new product managers on survival metrics, he first gives them small projects to observe how they assess them. He gradually introduces the concept of survival metrics after a few weeks. [21:09] Adam shares advice he gives to budding product managers who aren't confident in their decision-making. [24:04] Succeeding in product management requires soft skills. It requires being humble enough to come up with multiple decisions and not knowing the answer immediately. Product managers run into trouble when they act on things they have little or no information on. [26:36] Adam lists the types of things that have worked to break down barriers and make product teams more collaborative. [28:58] Resources Adam Thomas | LinkedIn | Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Experimentation
September 29, 2021 • 18 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa dives into the world of experimentation, answering subscribers’ questions about metrics and signals for internal applications, measuring the success of company transformations, and the best way to track experiments. Q: Do you have any recommendations for metrics signals for internal applications, particularly where we are trying to change behaviors over the long term? How can an organization measure the success of a product-led company transformation? [2:05] Q: How do you track experiments and the results in a central way? [8:44] Q: How do I set a timeframe for measuring success and performance of a product before I pivot or iterate? How do I know when to kill a product, if after a couple more tries the initial idea didn't work? [11:36] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Developing Strong Product People with Petra Wille
September 22, 2021 • 44 MIN
Petra Wille is the author of the new book, “Strong Product People: The Complete Guide to Developing Great Product Managers.” A successful product management and leadership coach based in Germany, Petra joins Melissa to talk through how product teams can meet their full potential, and how leaders can achieve effective whole-person management and mentorship. Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Petra talk about in this episode: How Petra became a product leadership coach. [2:10] A common complaint from product managers about their professional training is that there is a lack of guidance. There are no career conversations; one-on-one conversations are usually focused on progress updates, revenue updates, and how the product is doing. Managers aren’t focusing on the people development part, and they need to be. [4:45] Petra lists the five steps to forming strong product people. [6:24] Petra talks about the PM wheel she created which is a framework of skills every product manager should have. Petra says this framework embodies her principles and values, and it is customized for each company she works with. [12:29] Petra goes into how she coaches product leaders who don't have backgrounds in product management. [16:40] Petra explains that if you want to transform your organization, you have to bring in people that know how it’s done. You have to invest in a community of practice. “Do some basic training in the beginning, then create a community of practice. Make sure they learn on the job while they're actually doing it,” Petra tells Melissa. [20:25] If people who know how to do products aren’t given the support, they aren't going to stay with your company. Give them the infrastructure to be successful, Melissa says. [26:05] Product managers need to understand and accept that the impact they have now is through others. [27:02] Giving people several ways to structure their feedback can help them have an open dialogue and not be worried about hurting other people’s feelings. Basing your feedback on the impact of whatever situation or action occurred within the organization, positive or negative, makes all the difference. [29:27] Petra gives advice for product managers who don’t have leaders that are mentoring them. [35:32] Resources Petra Wille | LinkedIn | Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About IT Department Transformation
September 15, 2021 • 24 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about transforming IT departments and legacy businesses into agile frameworks, reframing leaderships’ “May I take your order” approach towards their product teams, and making your case for strong product management practices within an IT-minded organization. Q: Our President and VP of IT want to switch the entire company from project management to product management. What advice do you have for a prospective lead product manager with no prior PM experience? [2:04] Q: How can line workers and IC’s help our management see the value of iterative product development? [10:17] Q: How do you approach arguing to an IT-minded legacy media company to introduce product discovery when they actually have only one product team to work with and multiple media assets or websites? How do we start building trust so that they are willing to hire more teams? [18:21] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Prioritizing Accessibility with Dave Dame
September 8, 2021 • 39 MIN
Dave Dame is Director of Accessibility at Microsoft. He has extensive experience in design thinking, product management, and agile delivery. Dave joins Melissa Perri on this week’s Product Thinking podcast show to discuss how making the workplace accessible and inclusive to employees with disabilities is a crucial first step in making truly accessible products.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Dave talk about in this episode: Dave's role at Microsoft, and how he got involved in product. [2:25] Dave helps product managers understand the diversity of their users, to ensure that they're creating products that are accessible. Product managers and designers should not be designing for people with disabilities, but with people with disabilities. "There's a difference between meeting the standard and having incredible experiences. We don't want to just meet their needs, we want to give them phenomenal experiences where they become champions of our product," Dave tells Melissa. [6:16] Designing with persons with disabilities demands that product managers educate themselves on multiple uses of disabilities, and the multiple types of disabilities. It also means learning what tools are being used by persons with disabilities to manipulate your product, and understanding what your competitors are doing. [7:50] The first step to making sure you're being inclusive to everybody is to hire people with disabilities. [12:50] Everyone is going to experience some form of disability at some point in their life, so product managers need to build products that can be used by many different inputs, and in many different ways, or else they're going to limit who can use their product. [15:47] Focus on the usability life cycle instead of the product life cycle. If product managers don't start thinking about that now, they're going to lose long term loyalty and won't be able to support the modern places that use their product. Product managers have to think about it as the inevitable use case for everybody instead of a single unique use case. [18:00] Any company that is using its accessibility capability as a marketing edge, is a company that's doing it right. [22:21] No two people with the same disability are the same. [28:17] Product leaders and managers need to be mindful of individuals with invisible disabilities, and need to be better at being proactive. They need to make sure that no one is being left behind. Different thinking is needed to push towards the future. The only way this can happen is through equitable platforms that allow for diverse thought to exist. [29:32] When you speak up for your particular needs it becomes relevant for other people in different situations. Disabled people should not have to suffer in silence. [33:07] Resources Dave Dame | LinkedIn | Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Democratizing User Research, Product Team Visions, and Too Many Features
September 1, 2021 • 21 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about which part of an organization really owns user research, the scope of a product team’s vision and strategy, and how to tell when your product has too many features.  Q: How do you delineate the goals of product manager and product marketing research? [2:03] Q: Should every product manager have a 2 to 10-year vision and strategy, or should each respective PM rather craft division and strategy only covering the current strategic intent? [7:27] Q: How do you know when you have too many features in your product? Any suggestions on how to change the mindset that more is better? [13:26] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Understanding Continuous Discovery with Teresa Torres
August 25, 2021 • 45 MIN
Teresa Torres is a Product Discovery Coach, author, and keynote speaker. She is also the founder of The Product Talk Academy where she helps product teams adopt continuous product discovery practices. Teresa joins Melissa to discuss how product managers can implement strong continuous discovery habits into their product practices and how to communicate that work via roadmaps.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Teresa talk about in this episode: How Teresa first got involved in product management. [1:12] The heart of continuous discovery is not about shoving products on our team, but about creating products with them. It’s also about bringing the customer into the building process and figuring out how we make our products work for them. [6:28] We need to be always careful of who we are including when we define the customer and who we are leaving out. We can’t design a product for everybody but we can be more thoughtful and deliberate about boundaries. [7:26] Teresa says product leaders need to be deliberate about their ideas, as this will help them make more strategic decisions. [9:41] Teresa explains the framework of continuous discovery. [11:26] There are three components of discovering opportunities: understanding what success looks like to us in our organizations, defining the opportunity space, and making sure our solutions align with the other two components. [12:40] It doesn’t matter what method we use to discover opportunities. What matters is that we need to be outcome-focused, we need to find the right problems to solve, and then we need to find solutions that fit both the problem and the outcome. [14:15] A big issue with many companies is that they aren’t being deliberate about their target market. They miss out on opportunities because of this. [17:50] We have to be customer-centric in how we set and frame our outcomes. [22:20] We need trust that our employees work at our companies because they care about the customer. We need to trust that they’re going to do the right thing and do their best at work every day with what they’re given. When we do that, their compensation does not need to be tied to their outcome. [25:59] Teresa talks through how to communicate discovery work on roadmaps without getting tied to a fixed timeline. [28:35] We don’t have to be constantly looking for the next task because if we are following continuous discovery practices, we will always have the next opportunity there. [37:15] We need to focus on both business value and customer value. We have to serve our customers in ways that will create value for the business. [39:04] Teresa talks about the target audience for her book. [41:45] Resources Teresa Torres | LinkedIn | Twitter Product Talk Continuous Discovery Habits
Dear Melissa – Answering Questions about Complex Product Problems
August 18, 2021 • 15 MIN
In this episode of Product Thinking, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about compliance, dealing with physical and digital goods simultaneously, and what good UX looks like in really complicated problems. Q: I started working in product compliance at a company that offers an alternative credit product. It's been challenging for me because product teams do not see the value in my role and do not want to engage in the build-out or with issues that come up as it takes away from them shipping new features. We're a heavily regulated space, but they don't seem to care. And it's making me want to search for a new job. My previous company valued product compliance and saw me as an asset to the team, not a hindrance. How can I help the product managers see the value of my role help? [00:55] Q: I worked for a retailer that has offline and online shops, and we're trying to move towards being more product-driven. I've read a lot and listened to your answers about organizing product teams to be focused on specific value, streams and jobs to be done, and to keep them as autonomous as possible. But how should this work for companies that are not entirely digital? Our product team needs to work very closely with teams like retail, marketing, and creative when it comes to new features. So, we struggle with setting up teams that can ideate and execute entirely on their own. [05:40] Q: I think it’s the trend that many people equate good UX to simplicity. Cause simple whizzer like workflow might be okay for a phone app or web page in the B to C world, but I work on a product that is helping users to tackle complex 3D engineering tasks, construction of huge infrastructures, simulations of physical phenomenon, building of airplanes etc. These tasks can't be simple by definition and require a lot of flexibility and functionality. In my experience, blind simplification of the workflow often leads to a UX quality decrease. It's a challenge to get UX designers onboard with this very niche user workflow. What is the best way to approach this challenge, and what UX principles would work best in a complex product environment? [09:15] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter How to Succeed as a Senior Product Leader with Georgie Smallwood
Navigating Mergers and Acquisitions with Justin Anovick
August 11, 2021 • 39 MIN
Melissa Perri’s guest on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast is Justin Anovick. Justin is the Chief Product Officer at Optimizely, a company providing digital platform software services. He is a creative thinker and provides great leadership for his team. Justin joins Melissa to discuss how to navigate through mergers and acquisitions with your organization and how to get all members to play on the same team. Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Justin talk about in this episode: Why Justin became a product officer. [1:01] Understanding the customer sales cycle allows the product team to know what their customers and prospects are looking for. [3:55] Designing a product takes specific processes; if you change something at the last minute that change will have a major impact. [7:23] The questions, challenges, and differences that Justin has to confront now with his new merger and acquisition. [9:09] It’s very important that everyone is on the same page and understands the vision for the company. “We have to build demos, we have to build the messaging, we have to agree and communicate with the other side to make sure that we're spot on,” he tells Melissa. The vision can’t be conceptualized in a tagline, slogan, or image. The vision has to be about what the product is going to be in the future. [12:15] The more legitimate you can make a product, the better off you will be. The product team also plays a critical role in this. [15:35] In ensuring that a merger can be successful, you have to do things to scale. This sometimes means being okay with processes not being as high quality or going as expected. It also means integrating teams and being people first. [18:52] Invest more in the processes that you're doing well, and come up to average in your weaker areas. [20:52] Justin uses StrengthFinders quizzes with his team to understand the skills that they have, and how those skills complement him and one another. Managers need to understand that it’s not about adapting our teams to think like we do, but letting their skills complement the skills that we have. [22:36] Justin’s key focus is making sure everybody in the company understands their role, the direction the company is headed, the mission, and staying in tune with collecting key feedback from key individuals across the organization. [28:47] Justin talks about the ways he sets goals for Optimizely. [29:36] Test for understanding by using the passive check. This is simply checking with multiple people and using direct communication. We get more value from this because we can ask follow-up questions, and we don’t have to consult surveys. [34:09] Resources Justin Anovick | LinkedIn | Twitter Optimizely
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions about Scaling Organizations
August 4, 2021 • 24 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about product operations, how to structure teams in an organization cross-functionally, and knowing when it’s time to scale your product. Q: What is the problem product operations solves? What does success look like for these teams? How should these teams be structured? Who should these teams report to? [1:08] Q: How do you know in advance when your product is ready to scale and how do you prepare from a roadmap funding perspective? [11:41] Q: Can you provide some sample product and design team organization structures that you’ve seen work well? Where do product and business analysts sit in the organization? Do designers, assuming they're part of the product management team umbrella, have assigned PMs to partner with? Do you see product directors who manage product managers as stronger in the company domain, or great PM craft practitioners? [16:38] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Tying Product to Go-To-Market Strategy With Ray McKenzie
July 28, 2021 • 41 MIN
Melissa Perri’s guest on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast is Ray McKenzie. Ray is the CEO and founder of StartingPoint Technologies, an organization that develops solutions for service-based companies. He has expertise across a variety of fields, most notably strategy development, workforce analytics, and behavioral analysis. Ray joins Melissa to discuss the ideal marketing strategy that product leaders should be adopting. Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Ray talk about in this episode: How Ray got into product management. [1:16] Product leaders need to consult with customers and rely on other uses and experiences to outline how to build products. [5:01] One of the biggest challenges when it comes to a company startup is opening yourself up to criticism and feedback. However, allowing yourself to get feedback, both positive and negative, can benefit your business. [7:41] Melissa expresses that when building a product, leaders’ main focus should be on how they can make products easy for customers to use. [12:00] Product management should be tied into strategic decisions in the organization. Product leaders need to be present in decision-making so that they can understand the vision for the business and build products to align with that. [13:50] Product is a revenue driver and not a cost center. [16:58] Being product-led is a go-to-market strategy. Building a product-led company means that product building becomes ingrained in the day-to-day work. [18:07] The different go-to-market strategies that companies need to be thinking about, and how they should decide on which strategy is right for them. [26:53] The main way to experiment with your go-to-market strategy, or test it, is to talk to people. Talk to your ideal customer, your colleagues, and do market research. “If you just talk to people they will lead you in the direction of where it is easiest to go. And if you're taught to understand who your ideal customer is, talk to as many people of that kind as possible, and they'll tell you where you should invest your go-to-market dollars or go-to-market strategy,” Ray tells Melissa. [30:13] Companies that aren't software-based need to think about their ideal customers, what their competition is doing, and what differentiates their product from everyone else. [32:52] Resources Ray McKenzie | LinkedIn | Twitter StartingPoint
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Evaluating Strong Product People and Organizations
July 21, 2021 • 24 MIN
Q: I have been offered a senior leadership role, but part of me feels I still haven’t proven myself with any actual company outcomes as an individual contributor. Should I take the role, where I’d be fairly hands-off, or spend more time honing my craft? [0:46] Q: Is there a way to evaluate an organization before applying? [7:04] Q: Do you have any tips for finding a good VP of product for a growth-stage startup? [12:18] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Getting Leadership Up to Speed with Marty Cagan
July 14, 2021 • 45 MIN
Melissa Perri’s guest on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast is Marty Cagan. Marty is a product executive, the Founder and Product Partner of the Silicon Valley Product Group and the author of “Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love”. He has over two decades experience in the field of product management. Marty joins Melissa to discuss product management and how to become the best product manager you can possibly be. Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Marty talk about in this episode: The essence of product is how well the team works together to solve problems in ways customers love, but that which also works for the business. [1:31] The focus of Marty’s book, Empowered, is helping leadership up their game. If a product team is not performing well, the fault lies with the leaders. [2:58] The product leader’s first and main job is to make sure that their product team thrives, and that they do their jobs well. Product managers should be encouraging and coaching their teams, and inspiring them so that they can set up their teams for success. [4:23] “Product teams are only as good as their product managers...if those product managers are not good, it all falls apart and then it doesn't matter how much singing and dancing that product leader can do with the other executives if he or she can't deliver results,” Marty tells Melissa. [8:00] What causes organizations to use tactics that only focus on cost reduction. [13:28] The advice Marty gives to clients on what they can do to change their organizations. [17:38] Becoming a great product manager is about learning from, and being coached by someone who’s dedicated to developing and coaching you. [22:17] How to know which organizations will be willing to train you and how to find a product leader who is going to put in the time and effort to show you the ropes. [24:30] Product leaders hire based on a person’s potential. It’s not about an academic qualification but more of a belief in the person’s ability to reach where product leaders think it can be. [27:22] What organizations should be doing to help bring their less tech savvy employees up to speed, for the benefit of their product teams. [30:28] One of the biggest issues surrounding product management. [34:59] The ten keys to successful transformation. [40:38] Resources Marty Cagan | LinkedIn | Twitter Silicon Valley Product Group
Leading Transformation with Amy Radin
July 7, 2021 • 49 MIN
Melissa Perri’s guest on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast is Amy Radin. Amy is a growth advisor and problem solver for FinTech and MarTech businesses. She has spent over two decades in the marketing, digital, and innovation sector and is currently a member of the Fast Company executive board. Amy joins Melissa to discuss implementing digital transformation in our organizations through relationships. Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Amy talk about in this episode: Amy’s professional background and how she got into digital transformation. [1:29] You can’t solve new problems with old tools. Helping your organization feel comfortable and embrace a new way of doing processes is key. [6:16] It is important to build relationships with the influencers and decision-makers within an organization when you are seeking to implement digital transformation. Get a clear understanding of what success means to them. Once they believe that your first priority is to make them successful, you will win their trust and support. [9:01] When building organizational teams, there is no one-size-fits-all. You have to build on what exists within the organization at the moment as well as acknowledge that there are elements of culture that affect the organizational structure. [14:53] If employees are unable to adapt to new realities of change in their organizations, leaders have to ask themselves if they’ve given them enough opportunity to build new skills. [17:57] “You need to build a very diverse team when you're building’s internal and external people who are bringing different life experiences, different backgrounds. You need diversity to solve hard problems,” Amy stresses. [19:49] We must focus on developing real empathy and deep understanding of our customers’ needs and bring this insight to the organization in a way they will find compelling. [24:32] How Amy gets her teams to take initiative. [24:45] Even on the worst days we have to maintain a sense of optimism and believe that we will get there. [30:22] “You have to look for the actions and behaviors that the organization and the leadership have done either at the organization, or in their prior roles that indicate they understand that you have a common expectation of what transformation and change means and what it takes,” Amy remarks. [35:34] The behavioral evidence Amy looks for that tells her that the company is ready for transformation. [38:14] Resources Amy Radin | LinkedIn | Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About PM Soft Skills
June 30, 2021 • 21 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers a subscriber’s question about ‘soft skills’ and why they are equally as important as hard skills. Q: What would you say to someone who's concerned about their assertiveness? [00:51] Q: What resources or experiences would you recommend for people who recognize the need for hard skills as part of product, but who would intentionally like to cultivate these soft skills (empathy, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence) as well? [9:06] Q: What would you recommend a team of product managers to do if they’re headed by a CTO who does not have time for the team, or product management know-how? Can a product team ever be successful if they are led by someone who doesn’t seem to have organizational power? [14:03] Going to the C-suite yourselves may not be the option, but how do you surface up the problem? If it's a good C-suite they should start to see that this is an issue because the team might not be performing the way that they actually expected to be. I think you can go to the C-suite to have conversations about your individual products, not necessarily the same product leader but helps surface up what good looks like. [15:48] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Building Responsible Products with Kathy Pham
June 23, 2021 • 46 MIN
Melissa Perri’s guest on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast is Kathy Pham. Kathy is a computer scientist, a product management executive, and co-leads the Ethics and Responsible Tech at Mozilla. She also co-founded the Mozilla Fix the Internet Incubator, as well as the Product and Society at Mozilla, which focuses on product management, ethics, and the public interest. Kathy joins Melissa to discuss product ethics. Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Kathy talk about in this episode: Interesting details about the product management class Kathy teaches at Harvard. [00:47] Kathy’s experiences working at The White House, Harvard, and in product management. [5:52] Ethics and its implications for product management. [12:58] Accessibility and security are important and need to be integrated into a product from the very beginning. [15:48] When designing products for an inclusive audience, you have to take into consideration the team culture that is in place and build out those personas to be as inclusive as possible. “I think it's important to build into the culture knowing that the moment something is built it's really hard to reverse,” Kathy tells Melissa.[19:35] How to respond to changes or challenges with your product platform when it happens in another country where no member of your team is from. [23:34] As product managers, we need to be listening to our users, and that includes listening to those users who are telling us what we don’t want to hear. It means not condemning or shutting down their feedback by telling them they’re wrong. [28:34] Having diverse perspectives within our product teams is very important for the decision-making process. It ensures that the concerns of the target audience are heard and are taken into account. [30:32] When the people building our program algorithms make terrible assumptions or have blind spots, they bake into them issues that already exist in the world and just propagate them through code. [38:50] Resources Kathy Pham | LinkedIn | Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Product Ethics
June 16, 2021 • 14 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers a subscriber’s question about choice architecture and competing priorities between the business and the customer.  Q: How do you balance the ethics of choice architecture as a product manager who is responsible for satisfying possible divergent priorities between the business and the customer? What is our duty when priorities may conflict? Hear Melissa talk about: Choice architecture and dark patterns What to do with your priorities conflict with each other How ethics in product is vital to how you view your products Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Changing Behavior with Matt Wallaert
June 9, 2021 • 40 MIN
Melissa Perri’s guest on this week’s Product Thinking Podcast is Matt Wallaert. Matt is a behavioral scientist and a product strategist. He has spent over twenty years applying behavioral sciences to practical problems. He currently holds the position of Executive Director of Behavioral Science at Frog, a Capgemini Company, where he helps organizations build their own behavioral science capabilities.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Matt talk about in this episode: Behavior change can be applied across many disciplines but its natural home is product. The point of product is to change behavior. [1:09] How Matt got interested in the world of behavioral science. [3:07] What it means to have actual outcomes for customers and how behavioral science can be used to point out what those outcomes should look like. [8:41] When doing behavioral research, segment on behaviors rather than demographics. [9:43] Behavioral statements come at the very beginning, and they describe the end. It's calling into being what hasn't yet occurred. [13:08] Activating someone means to get them engaged. "If people feel like they're creating business value, they'll be super engaged." [17:53] Product leaders need a deep understanding of the human side of product management. [26:08] The best product managers are curious people. They want to know how the system fits together and how all the processes within the system work. [30:00] How product leaders can determine if a person has cognition, and the relevant questions to ask to find out. [30:38] "If you can figure out how to change behavior naturally in the world, I can teach you the science part. I can teach you the process part. I can teach you four stages and competing pressures and all of the tricks and tips and tools that we use to make this work in the modern environment. But you have to want to be that person," Matt says. [35:19] "Product people are not status quo people. It's inherently about difference. It's inherently about change." [36:21] Resources Matt Wallaert | LinkedIn | Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About PM Time Management
June 2, 2021 • 27 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about how to use their time wisely, whether they’re trying to support their sales team with a complex product, getting the most out of a customer advisory board, or finding time for discovery work on a Scrum-focused team. Q: I'm constantly helping our sales team run demo calls and our account managers onboard and set up new customers. What can I do to empower my team so I can focus on improving our product instead? Have you ever used a dedicated team member to fill this space as a product specialist role? [1:38] Q: What am I signing up for when setting up a customer advisory board? What should I do to launch it smoothly and get the most out of it? What risks am I facing? Is this a stupid idea? [9:31] Q: Is there a way to make product discovery a process and make time for it, like what scrum does for delivery? [16:28] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Tackling Product Research with C. Todd Lombardo
May 26, 2021 • 41 MIN
This week’s guest is C. Todd Lombardo, the VP of Product and Experience at Openly. C. Todd and Melissa discuss product research–a key combination of user research, market research, and analytics–and how product managers can better implement research practices into their organizations. Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Todd talk about in this episode: The kind of product leadership Todd does, and how he got invested in product management. [1:24] The biggest change in product management in the last decade is the legitimacy of position, and product leaders finally having important roles in organizations. [5:40] Product research is about gathering information and trying to synthesize it in a meaningful way. [10:48] Product managers need to have the ability to go out and speak with customers and do qualitative research. [13:16] The mindset of discovery, and how it can contribute to designers and engineers making better decisions which lead to better products and eventually, better outcomes. [18:23] Our job as product leaders is to figure out what our customers want. [21:55] One of the main rules of product research is to prepare to be wrong and go into [product research] with the intent to prove yourself wrong. “If you can't prove yourself wrong you might be onto something right.” [27:09] Always take into account the audience you’re presenting to. Remember that you’re talking to busy executives, so share your conclusions up front so that they don’t miss the main points. [30:30] Resources C Todd Lombardo | LinkedIn | Twitter Openly
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Growing as a Product Manager
May 19, 2021 • 29 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about: Q: As a CPO, what should I think about when managing disciplines I’m not an expert in? [1:08] Q: Do you have any tips on how to set up good 30-60-90 day smart goals as a product manager for a mature startup? [7:00] Q: What advice do you have in evaluating next steps in moving on to a career after product management? [14:51] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Getting to the Bottom of Agile with Jeff Patton
May 12, 2021 • 45 MIN
The theme of this week’s Product Thinking Podcast is agile development, and Melissa Perri’s guest this week is Jeff Patton of Jeff Patton & Associates. Jeff is one of the first agile product managers, and his company helps other companies use product and customer- centric thinking to improve their market and the way they work. Jeff and Melissa to discuss agile development in this week’s show, including what’s currently going wrong with it. Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Jeff talk about in this episode: How both Jeff and Melissa got into agile development. [01:10] The issues agile development was created to mitigate. [7:01] How agile development was understood when it was first created. [14:15] The difference between agile development now and agile development in the past is understanding what an outcome is. “[Product] outcome is measured by whether the customers and users see you try and use it, and keep using it,” Jeff tells Melissa. [14:51] Product development is about prototyping, experimenting, and spending time with customers. [19:12] Three things you should never not do in agile development. [21:54] Companies are now conducting more business via technology which requires them to become more agile. However, they’re not adopting the agile manifesto in the right way. [30:55] Jeff hopes that agile development will morph and become what it needs to be in the future. [39:09] Resources Jeff Patton | LinkedIn | Twitter Jeff Patton & Associates
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions about Product Best Practices
May 5, 2021 • 19 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about applying product practices to nonprofit companies and customer engagement and debunks myths about MVPs. Q: How applicable are product best practices and principles outside of for-profit SAAS companies? [1:08] Q: Do you have any suggestions on how we can encourage our users to experiment with the new payment method our company introduced? [6:32] Q: How do I advocate for a more iterative and incremental approach to new product releases and product updates, as opposed to big bang releases? [10:34] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Culture and Strategy, the Netflix Way with Gibson Biddle
April 28, 2021 • 48 MIN
The theme of this week’s Product Thinking Podcast is culture, and Melissa Perri’s guest is Gibson Biddle, author of the “Ask Gib” product newsletter. Gibson is dedicated to teaching product strategy and culture both in and outside of the classroom. He joins Melissa to discuss the importance of having a good organizational culture, and how that affects strategy. Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Gibson talk about in this episode: The product leader’s job is to delight customers in hard-to-copy, margin-enhancing ways (DHM). [3:18] How Netflix developed their high-level strategy for personalization. [8:47] Gibson’s experience with managing the product team as VP of Product Management at Netflix. Every product leader who worked for him was expected to have clear, defined strategies for their teams. [12:39] The failure of Project Griffin. [20:37] Building a culture where everyone is on the same page about making the best choices for the business is difficult, but not impossible. One key practice is context over control; ensure that everyone understands the context that the business is operating in. [25:54] “At the end of the day, people are not there forever but the culture is; the culture describes the [company’s] values and the values describe the skills and behaviors of everyone in the building,” Gibson tells Melissa. “At our quarterly meetings, we would discuss strategy, but we would also learn to form good judgment. This is what the culture is about; helping individuals make great decisions about products.” [29:41] "Culture is all about who you hire… who you promote- every time someone was promoted to director or VP there was a celebration because it was about them being a culture carrier, them living the Netflix culture. And [when you would] let people go, they might demonstrate amazing results, but they were living outside of Netflix's values,” Gibson shares. [38:46] Strategy is important when starting a product organization, but it’s ok if half of it fails. It’s a process and a bunch of hypotheses that you need to learn from. [43:46] Resources Gibson Biddle on LinkedIn | Twitter 
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Strategic Team Building
April 21, 2021 • 19 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about the design and strategy in building the best product teams. Q: Is dividing teams to generate results in different strategies a wise decision? If so, how should they communicate with each other? If not, what is the right way to organize teams? [00:47] Q: Are there any best practices in organizing digital products, future teams, and squads? How do you coordinate a backlog of all the products that are connected in an ecosystem of digital products? [4:53] Q: How do you rightsize your product teams and value streams when the typical software system can be huge with small components? [9:41] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Building Trust To Build Great Products with Brian Bhuta
April 14, 2021 • 55 MIN
The theme of this week’s Product Thinking Podcast is transformation, and Melissa Perri’s guest this week is Brian Bhuta, Chief Product Officer at Signify Health. Brian is an experienced product leader and is passionate about establishing and scaling product management organizations in an agile environment. He joins Melissa to discuss transformations and product management from an inside perspective. Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Brian talk about in this episode: How Brian and Melissa both got into product transformation. [1:50] The raw material of transformation is people who are passionate about wanting to do better on a regular basis. [07:09] Employees and customers want a bold vision, and not a boring one. [10:26] Consider and acknowledge that there are people who have invested more into the company than you have. A leader who has the goal of product transformation, but who has a mindset that they’re going to “save” or “fix” the company, is doomed to alienate the people who have helped build the company to where it is. [14:19] We have to build a relationship with our team and the people we are now in charge of. “You’re never gonna be able to work with someone if you don’t understand them,” Brain tells Melissa. [22:24] An executive who sees themself as part of the team will make great steps towards transformation and help the company move towards a great workplace culture. [30:54] When selling a product we need to consider if the product and the market are right. We also need to make sure that we are not promising too many things to our customers. [46:11] Melissa and Brian talk about building relationships as both sales and product leaders, and building trust internally. [47:37] Once you build a foundation of trust you can deal with any subsequent backlash or friction that may arise as systems begin to change. [52:07] Resources Brian Bhuta | LinkedIn, Twitter
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Communicating Up
April 7, 2021 • 18 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about product teams with unequipped product leaders, ineffective usage of data, and killing products. Q: Have you come across situations in your career as a product manager where you were under the authority of people with no background in product management? How would you recommend I bring my concern about this to my leadership without coming across as arrogant? [1:08] Q: My organization struggles to use data effectively. What are some ways to convey the importance of data to leadership? And what are some achievable milestones that can be acquired to prove the value of investing in data? [9:14] Q: How can I reframe the decision to kill products so that everyone can understand them? [13:32] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
What Makes a Great Vision with Ben Foster
March 31, 2021 • 50 MIN
Melissa Perri welcomes Ben Foster - Chief Product Officer at Whoop and author of Building What Matters: Delivering Key Outcomes with Vision-Led Product Management - to this week’s Product Thinking Podcast. Ben is an experienced product leader who teaches the value of vision to help us craft the right strategy and achieve our desired outcomes. He joins Melissa to discuss the framework he details in his book and what makes a great vision. Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Ben talk about in this episode: Ben and Melissa swap stories of how they “accidentally” got into product management. [2:31] Ben’s book describes what causes some companies to struggle with product management, as well as what makes other companies excel. It also features recommendations for product leaders. [9:10] Vision-led product management, Ben tells Melissa, is “being definitive about what the value of your product is going to be, for whom you're going to provide that value, where the differentiation is going to lie, ...all these major components of the product vision.” [10:12] Successful companies see their profits as a byproduct of the value they provide for their customers. Defining what success looks like to customers involves deep research into who your customers are, what motivates them, who else can solve their problem, and what would make them choose you and stay with you. “As you map that out,” Ben remarks, “then you can make sure that everybody on the product team is rowing in the same direction towards actually realizing that vision.” [11:35] Melissa asks Ben to talk about how he implemented his vision-led product management framework at Go Canvas. [20:02] Melissa and Ben talk about the steps in the customer journey. [22:17] “The reason that people actually buy is because of the performance things; the reason they continue to buy is because of the delight,” Ben emphasizes. [27:55] Melissa asks Ben, “What else do you see [as] the differentiators between companies that do product management well and companies that don't?” Ben responds, “One of the key elements for me is they understand the connectedness between value for their customers and value for their business.” [32:33] Ben and Melissa discuss how to convince the CEO that not every opportunity should be pursued. [42:26] Resources Ben Foster on LinkedIn Building What Matters: Delivering Key Outcomes with Vision-Led Product Management
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions about Internal Products and Prioritization
March 24, 2021 • 20 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about pragmatic versus ideal product management, internal product management, and determining how to build products for a two-sided marketplace.  Q: Do you think there should be a difference between ideal product management and pragmatic product management? [0:59] Q: What kind of metrics are you looking at when customer-based internal users are forced to use the software? There's no LTV, CAC, revenue models, or any of the normal user metrics in B2C or B2B. [7:38] Q: We're building a product for renters, our end users, and landlords, our customers. I'm struggling with prioritizing whose problems to solve first. Is it better to build for our paying customer first, or do we build as fast as possible for renters but risk more turnover with the landlords? [14:03] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Creating Product-Led Strategy with Oji Udezue
March 17, 2021 • 43 MIN
Oji Udezue is the Chief Product Officer at Parsible and was formerly the VP of Product at Calendly. Melissa Perri describes him as “one of the best product leaders I have ever met.” His extensive experience in both B2B and B2C companies, including Microsoft and Atlassian, has given him insight into how to set strategy, even in companies where there is none. He joins Melissa to talk about what it takes to implement a product-led strategy, and how to influence a culture shift in your organization. Here are some key points from their discussion: Oji defines being product-led as “increasing customer focus… It means infusing the entire company with this idea that it's more efficient for everyone… to really execute on a really great product that pulls itself forward. And if you can do that then your ability to make profit actually increases…” [2:40] The role of the CPO is to understand the company goals, vision, and mission and track an efficient product course to achieve that. The CPO’s biggest leverage is deciding what to invest in and what not to, Oji says. [6:13] A draft strategy is a lightning rod: it gets the discussion started. Oji uses the VMSO (vision, mission, strategies, objectives) framework to draft strategy. Melissa asks him to advise product leaders who want to start drafting a strategy. He urges them to write it down and then socialize it. He also emphasizes that your draft strategy should be good: people should see wisdom and truth in it. [13:10] Oji predicts that all enterprise companies will become B2C in 10 years. [22:05] Melissa asks what is product-led growth. Oji defines the term and explains what it takes: a good product with great market fit, a good brand, good word of mouth and virality. [27:02] You have to expand your addressable market constantly to stay in the game. [30:38] Oji and Melissa discuss how product leaders can help change their company culture. [33:00] Resources Oji Udezue on LinkedIn | Twitter | Medium
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Product Transformation
March 10, 2021 • 23 MIN
In this Dear Melissa episode, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about product transformation. Q1: As the leader of a new product function initiative, what steps can I take to earn the CEO’s trust and create a company culture that embraces an outcome-driven and product-lead mindset? [2:07] Q2: How can I ensure my company is approaching product transformation in the right way? [7:31] Q3: How long does it take a strong product manager (junior to intermediate level) to make some positive impact in a company that lacks a good product culture? Should they stick around if there are no big positive changes after a year, or should they move on to try and learn elsewhere? [15:18] Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Don’t Just Tick the Product Management Boxes, a Conversation with Kate Leto
March 3, 2021 • 48 MIN
Kate Leto is an organisational design consultant, coach and product advisor with a 25 year track record helping to build product teams that thrive. She joins Melissa Perri today to talk about some of the challenges in filling product management roles that companies run into all the time – and how to overcome them. Ultimately, Kate believes that growth mindset – both of leadership teams and product managers themselves is what makes the difference between success and failure. is a career coach who specializes in hiring product managers and organizational design. Here are some key points from Melissa and Kate’s conversation: There are two high level motivations for hiring a product manager. This first is because it ticks a box, the second because you need to make meaningful change. [Listen at 04:45] How Kate has learned to hire great product managers, and strategies for doing so that she helps her clients implement. [Listen at 07:30] The role of emotional intelligence in product management and organizational design, and the key trait that indicates someone will be successful. (Listen from 12:00] The Story of Pete – the team member we’ve all worked with who is technically excellent – but not so strong on the human skills. [Listen at 14:45] How to identify and call out the specific issues when you get the feeling that something is off during the interview process. [Listen from 22:30] What is the mindset you need for success, and what happens when someone doesn’t have it. [Listen from 28:00] The diversity problem plaguing many organizations in tech and other industries; Kate and Melissa talk about how to get out of the trap of hiring the same person over and over again. [Listen from 29:40] Hiring for senior and director level positions, and making sure you’re attracting a diverse array of applicants. [Listen from 43:45] Resources Kate Leto | Twitter | LinkedIn
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Starting a Career in Product Management
February 24, 2021 • 27 MIN
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about transitioning into product management. Q: What can I do to prove to potential employers that I have what it takes to be successful as a product manager, even though I don’t have experience? How do I write my resume? A: Right now, companies are looking for senior product managers to balance out their teams, since they have mostly trained juniors. You should look for a company on LinkedIn that will invest time and resources into training you. Investigate their product leader: if they are very experienced, they will likely know how to train people and be more willing to find people to work with. For resumes, I recommend highlighting your achievements in previous jobs that are affiliated with product management, such as doing customer interviews and creating personas. Pull out what’s relevant and tell the story the way you want to tell it. Q: Do you need an MBA to become a product manager? A: MBA’s typically help product managers in leadership positions, but it’s not a requirement for transitioning into the field.  Q: What steps should a senior product manager take to move into a director role if he or she has not had the opportunity to manage people? A: What I’ve seen that helps people move into that role is showing that you can be strategic and think outside the box. Additionally, you have to be more business-focused; while we want to ruthlessly prioritize the user and their needs, you also have to figure out how to prioritize that within the frame of your company strategy. Think about what the company strategy is and then take every chance you get to explain to the leaders how your product can help achieve those goals. Q: How do I evaluate a company's maturity and practice in modern product management? What should I look for before and during the interview process? A: Here are some questions I ask product management leaders to gauge the company’s maturity, and what the responses indicate. What are your most important business goals? What are your most important product goals? What are you working on now and why? If they can't tell me the story behind that, it means that there's no strategy in the organization or that there's misalignment. If you get to meet the head of sales or the head of engineering, ask them about product management to see if they have a good understanding of it. If the rest of the organization doesn't know what you do, you're probably gonna have a hard time executing and doing your job there. Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
Thinking Through Product Strategy with Barry O’Reilly
February 17, 2021 • 52 MIN
Creating great products is about the systems, processes and culture in place that help companies deliver value to their customers. On the Product Thinking Podcast, host Melissa Perri interviews the thought leaders in product development and answers your pressing questions to help you think like a great product leader. This episode is all about strategy: what it is vs what it isn’t, and how to create a good one. The expert Melissa turns to for strategy advice is Barry O’Reilly, entrepreneur and business strategist who has “pioneered the intersection of business model innovation, product development, organizational design and culture transformation.” Barry is also the author of two seminal books on product strategy and development - Unlearned: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results, and The Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organizations Innovate at Scale. These are some highlights from Melissa and Barry’s conversation: Learn about the pitfalls that growing companies often experience when they lack clear strategy. [5:15] Strategy is making choices. Barry and Melissa talk about defining your expectations for the outcome, and how to measure the effectiveness of your decisions. [14:40] Bad strategy sounds like fluff, so Barry shares what makes a strategy great. [23:15] Strategy evolves over time - you make choices, execute, evaluate and iterate based on what you learn. [33:10]  Barry explains why cross-functional teams are the best way to approach creating strategy. [38:50] Product management is a creative skill. Melissa and Barry discuss why making space for thinking is important for product leaders. [45:20] Resources Barry O’Reilly on LinkedIn | Twitter | YouTube Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results  The Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organizations Innovate at Scale
Dear Melissa - Answering Questions About Strategy
February 17, 2021 • 22 MIN
Creating great products is about the systems, processes, and culture in place that help companies deliver value to their customers. On the Product Thinking Podcast, host Melissa Perri interviews the thought leaders in product development and answers your pressing questions to help you think like a great product leader. In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about strategy.  Q: How do you convince the CTO of the value of working towards understanding problems rather than defining pre-made solutions? [1:54] A: Sometimes you just have to demonstrate to them what the customer discovery process is, how it works and why it's valuable, which means you'll have to go out and do it. Figure out how you can define that value, package that up into something that will work for your CTO, and then present it. Start small and demonstrate success.   Q: Do you have any tips for a product leader to make sure that their team gets the big picture and has visibility and ownership end-to-end, including the business success? [9:00] A: There is often a misalignment of business goals across multiple levels of organizations, which indicates that something is wrong with the product strategy. [I suggest] you over-communicate and ensure that the product strategy is well deployed. Everyone needs to understand what problems they are facing and what goals they are trying to achieve. Q: What’s your recommendation on building a product strategy at small scale within the product team and leveraging that strategy up to get broader visibility, and buying from leadership and other stakeholders? Does that work? [13:55] A: Yes, it does work. I would start by finding out if there’s a product strategy that’s been poorly deployed. Figure out the goals that the executives want to achieve, use that opportunity to define said goals, and build your product strategy.  Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter
How to Succeed as a Senior Product Leader with Georgie Smallwood
February 17, 2021 • 40 MIN
Creating great products is about the systems, processes and culture in place that help companies deliver value to their customers. On the Product Thinking Podcast, host Melissa Perri interviews the thought leaders in product development and answers your pressing questions to help you think like a great product leader. Melissa continues the conversation about strategy, this time from the perspective of the senior product leader. What does it take to be a good CPO? What role does a product manager play in setting strategy for the company? What’s the difference between company strategy and product strategy? Melissa poses these questions to this week’s guest, Georgie Smallwood. Georgie is the Chief Product Officer at Tier Mobility, and the former CPO of N26. She has deep insights into what it takes to create and successfully implement product strategy, and why that is important for autonomy. Here are some key points from Melissa and Georgie’s discussion: Your strategy is the connector between your mission and achieving that mission. It narrows your frame of work and space you can operate in, Georgie says. [6:04] “Creating the strategy is just one part of it. You have to over-communicate all the time. Everything has to come back to it,” Georgie points out. [9:45] Melissa and Georgie discuss the differing ideas around the concept of autonomy. Should there be autonomy without constraints? What is privileged autonomy? [11:42] No product strategy framework is better than any other one. What matters, Georgie says, is how effectively you use them and what you do with them. [20:00] “If you want to change the way that people are doing things in the future, no amount of data is really gonna help you; because there are some leap of faith assumptions that you need to take.” [22:53] If you want to be a senior leader you need to be an expert in something. You need both hard skills and soft skills to be effective. [35:25] Georgie answers a Dear Melissa submission. [35:53] Resources Georgie Smallwood on LinkedIn | Twitter | Medium
Introducing Product Thinking with Melissa Perri
January 21, 2021 • 4 MIN
Product management has been adopted all over the world in the last decade. But despite its popularity, great product management is still hard to come by. The Product Thinking podcast is setting out to change that. This show will cover: How product leadership influences organizational systems so that product management can thrive. What the role of a product manager looks like at every level. How to invest in yourself as a product manager at every stage of your career. Product Thinking will have two different kinds of episodes - Dear Melissa, a direct line to Melissa to pose your biggest product management questions, and deep-dive conversations with industry leading experts who are pushing the boundaries of what it looks like to excel in this industry. Melissa Perri is a product management leader turned educator and author who has trained hundreds of people around the world to think like great product leaders. Learn more at