It’s been a monumental year for the craft of product management. With the world changing so rapidly and business needs pivoting seemingly every week — product teams had to follow suit. COVID-19 made us re-evaluate our North Star metrics, as well as how we approach remote work and collaboration. Every product leader I’ve talked to this year has acknowledged this challenge, and they’ve shared their story on this podcast. I’m grateful for all of the amazing guests who have joined the Product Love Podcast, and all the knowledge they’ve shared from their varied experiences. Each episode has been special in its’ own way, but here are five of my favorites.
Frequent listeners know how passionate I am about retention. So it comes as no surprise that I greatly enjoyed talking with Ibrahim Bashir, the VP of Product at Box. In this episode, he discusses how product teams tend to use revenue as a proxy for product value. But in reality, churn is actually the better indicator of lack of product value. This episode is a must-listen if you’re still figuring out how to nail your product strategy. If you’re currently using revenue as a stand-in for product value, I bet your roadmap looks more like a churn prevention laundry list, rather than a roadmap that stands true to your vision. This is a great episode for those who want to hear from a product veteran on how to think about your product years in advance.
Customer-centricity can be an obvious must-have for every product manager, but despite how often it shows up in the role, not everyone understands it the same way. Wayne Duso, VP of Amazon Web Services eloquently explains how being customer-centric is actually a lot harder than we think. When it comes to solving problems for the customer, we might be naturally inclined to build what they literally want. But as Wayne says, product managers have to start being active listeners and that’s accomplished by marrying customer anecdotes with actual product data. This is a great episode for those who want to learn how customer-centricity works at Amazon, and how to leverages these practices for your own product.
I was overjoyed to have Ryan Singer on the podcast again, after his first episode in 2018. He came back to discuss his new book, Shape Up, which explores how Basecamp approaches product development. This episode is jam-packed with so many fundamental product development tips and strategies. You’ll walk away with a new mindset on how to tackle your biggest product challenges, and he also discussed how today’s product managers have evolved. This is a great episode for those who want to learn how to “shape” their product, and ship work that matters.
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has accelerated the need for digital transformation. That’s why I was happy to talk to Robin Wells, SVP of Customer Insights and Experience Design at Wells Fargo. In this episode, Robin discusses the importance of experience design and research. When we frame our problems through the lens of experience design, we unravel so many deep insights about our customers and products. An emphasis on design can help us step back from our assumptions and solve our customer’s problem in an innovative way. That’s the magic of design and design thinking — it levels the playing field and allows people to interact collaboratively and creatively. This is a great episode for product people who are looking for ways to incorporate design thinking into their process.
Product management at startups is considerably different than at enterprise companies. Expect more pivots, different business models, and less predictability. In this two-part episode with Bella Renney, Head of Product at Tray.io, she dives into all of this and more. Bella explained that she always asks the question, “What change do you want to see in the world?” And she tries to answer it with her own product. I love this question, and I think it’s important that all product teams ask this. Products impact the world in various ways, and the best way to rally your team is to understand your contribution to the world. On the more technical side, we talked about shifting priorities, how to develop a product vision together, and why a partnership with product design is absolutely critical for survival. This is a great episode for product managers working at a startup — Bella expertly captures how it feels to be a leader in this space.
We hope you enjoyed listening to Product Love this year, and we hope to share more thoughtful conversations with you in 2021. Please email [email protected] if there’s any guest you would like to hear from.