This week on Product Love, I talked to Supriya Uchil, the CEO of London-based consulting boutique Accelerate Product. She currently advises companies on their product strategy, execution, and digital transformation. Supriya has been the director of product at Zynga, the head of product at Lockerz, and the product team lead for Amazon Kindle. Her breadth of experience is tremendous, which made her the best candidate to be BookingGo’s first-ever CPO. And as their first CPO, she was responsible for the company’s impressive digital transformation.
This week on Product Love, we explore the frameworks that have helped Supriya throughout her career.
Premortems: Figure Out What Makes Your Team Nervous
You might have heard of product postmortems. Typically, these are meetings in which the team discusses the recent launch of a product or end of a project. Was it successful? Did it fail? By asking these questions, the team gets the opportunity to share what went well and what didn’t.
Supriya thinks that premortems are just as effective for products. Basically, a premortem assumes that your product will be a disaster, meaning that the team needs to work backward to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s an exercise that helps you find the elephant in the room and allows team members to reveal their insecurities about the product.
According to Supriya, premortems are an essential practice for product managers. To her, it’s the perfect exercise in vision-building. Product managers have to develop the ability to see into the future of their product and must believe in it more than anything else. Plus, they have to sell it to everyone. Premortems may sound like activities based on paranoia or anxiety but are actually effective for risk mitigation and confidence-building.
Pretotyping Over Prototyping
You’re probably most familiar with the concept of prototyping, in which teams build something quickly to see how customers react. Pretotyping, on the other hand, doesn’t require building, just testing.
As an example, Supriya brings up a situation from her time at BookingGo. Her team discovered how much customers hated waiting in long queues to get their rental car. It was a huge chore, especially for large groups traveling together.
To address this issue, Supriya pulled together a team that included a product manager, designer, and user researcher. Then they went to the airport, where they tested different strategies for breaking the queue. They tried to prepare people by getting them all the information they needed as early as possible. Next, they tried assigning each customer to a concierge. They also tried a rental car app where customers could enter a code to get to their car faster. These were all strategies to figure out the most effective strategy. Eventually, they figured out that people were willing to pay more to get the car to come to them rather than wait a long period of time.
Want to learn how Supriya encouraged her organization to embrace product management? Check out the episode to find out.