Postlight invited four product leaders to our New York City HQ this summer to share insights on kickstarting a roadmap. What followed was a wide-ranging conversation that delved into taking a roadmap from zero to one, when and how to use data, the conversations product folks need to have with users and internal stakeholders, and the importance of transparency. Listen to the podcast episode for the full discussion, or read our roundup of highlights below.
Phil DiGiulio, Chief Product Officer at Video Shops
Phil is a multi-discipline product thinker with two decades of experience. He has served as a founder multiple times, taking startups and enterprise brands from zero to one. Here are our favorite takeaways from Phil:
Don’t get stuck in data
“It’s easy to get caught up in data and go about your work in an effort to secure as much data as possible. But really, I just need to talk to my customers. The feedback they give me is information I can use to make a decision going forward with the product and my roadmap.”
Curiosity and vulnerability
“At the end of the day, as a product owner, you have to be someone who’s curious and always asking questions. If you’re not, you’re not going to be very good at what you do. Be vulnerable and ask questions.”
PMing is a political science
“Product management is project management; it’s political science; it’s a smorgasbord. Managing people’s expectations is a very important parcel to that, and a lot of that comes down to having a very concise vision for what you’re building.”
Grace Mangum, Senior Director, Digital Product Management at United States Tennis Association
Grace is a 20-year veteran in digital marketing transformation, product development, content strategy, and monetizing of digital products. Her experience in sports, media, and entertainment has allowed her to execute for brands such as A&E, AMC, Lifetime TV, British Airways, CNN, Cadillac, and JP Morgan Chase. Here are our favorite takeaways from Grace:
Picking the right platform
“Someone very high up in an organization said, ‘We should build an app. It’ll be the fastest way to get to market.’ I get the speed to market, and I appreciate that as wanting to get out there and be first to market, but do we know that these folks are heavy app users? Do we know what they are using apps for? What are their favorite apps? Let’s do a little bit of competitive analysis before we even get down that road of saying, yes, this is the right platform to use for this particular product.”
Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know
“Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. How else do we learn? You can’t go from first grade to college in a day. And how boring would life be if you knew everything out of the gate?”
Andres Glusman, Co-Founder & CEO, DoWhatWorks
Andres is a behavioral scientist and pioneer of the lean startup movement with Meetup. He is currently the CEO and co-founder at DoWhat Works, which focuses on looking at all cumulative split tests being run to help companies learn about users in a more holistic and broad-based context. Here are our favorite takeaways from Andres:
“In the last 20 years, it’s gotten dramatically easier to launch things and no easier to launch things that people actually use. So when I think about prioritization, I ask, What is the number one thing that has to break in our favor for people to actually be using this product? Then I make all of my decisions based on those assumptions or how I de-risk or figure out the things that have to break for people to ultimately adopt the product. And then I work backward from there.”
Does anyone care?
“In general, as a framework, ask yourself: Does anyone care? Does a product or feature create any value for somebody they are willing to pay for? Are they willing to use it? How much does it cost me to service this? Can I make a profit? Does this thing have the ability to exist for the long haul? These are all these questions that have to get answered. And some of them are way more important to answer earlier than later.”
Tait Foster, Lead Strategist at Postlight
Tait is a Lead Strategist at Postlight with over a decade of product experience across media, data, and political technology. Here are our favorite takeaways from Tait:
“When dealing with executives, you have to have empathy for what they know and what they are worried about. The best way to match that is to assume positive intent in what they’re saying and be transparent in return. Saying, I don’t know, or being transparent has been helpful with folks at the executive level because they can either say they have the information or they also don’t know. And in the latter case, it’s like, well, we’ll find it out. And then you go, and you fix that for both of you.”
Hedgehogs and foxes
“There’s this concept that all people are either hedgehogs or foxes. Hedgehogs do one thing. They do it exceptionally well, which is ball up and spike. Foxes go all over the place. And I think that, in a way, is the simplest personification of all product folks. There’s always a shared sense of curiosity.”
Join us for our next event on September 22nd, Thinking Inside the Box: Doing Less With More. We hope to see you there!
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