The Product Ops Summit New York is fast approaching, so we caught up with Chris Butler, Lead Product Manager at Google to get some insights on his session and what he's most looking forward to...

Please could you introduce yourself?

I'm Chris Butler and I'm Lead Product Manager in the Google core machine learning group. And I have a lot of experience with product operations and I’m really excited to share a talk with everybody.

Previously, with the PLA, I created the product ops certified course, I've also written a lot of posts on their blog, and then done numerous talks and roundtables and different types of discussions around product operations.

What will you be discussing at the upcoming Product Ops Summit?

I'll be talking about what I'll call ‘deciding how to decide’ - what's really important about this is we all make lots of decisions over and over again, during the day as individuals, but there's a lot of times when we have to decide with other people. And that gets very messy.

I think, in places like Google, the default is to try to decide via consensus, but there's actually a lot of different ways. And what's important is not only that there are different ways to decide, but that there are different kinds of stages to a decision we should really be thinking about.

So that discourse, the way we set up that discourse, and the way we decide who the decision maker is ends up being really important. And if you don't do it, right, I think the biggest problem is that you'll end up spending lots of time spinning your wheels during lots of meetings without really getting down to what the key decision is and how we should be making it.

What do you think the top three priorities should be for product ops professionals right now?

I'd say the top three priorities for product ops professionals tend to be focusing on the people that are part of your community practice - how is it that product people, and even adjacent roles, like designers, customer engagement, etc., How is their individual job actually working out? How are they experiencing that and do they feel valued?

The second priority is really to understand what context your organization exists within. Not everything that you see or read online is going to work in your context. And so really understanding the different types of systems that are in place already, the history and the context, how people actually make decisions today, what they feel good about, and what behaviors are actually rewarded is incredibly important.

Then the third priority is how do you as an individual make an impact for your team? I'd say in some cases, my impact ends up being very focused on - how do I add new programs? How do I end up helping them be more effective in the particular things they do, and what we're trying to set up as a group?

But some of the time, pushing back and actually becoming somewhat of a roadblock is important, because we shouldn't just do everything that every leader wants inside of our organization. We should make sure we're doing things for the right reason, which is, how do we prioritize the people that we work with and the people that are in our community in practice?

What are you looking forward to most about the Product Ops Summit?

I'd say that sharing my knowledge and understanding, and all the things I've started to discover, as I really dive deep into decision-making and the way that that's applied to product teams.

Sharing all of that information is really helpful to me mostly because I get a lot of meaning out of my work by helping other people be really great at their job, not just the product managers I work with, but other product ops professionals that are out there in the world.

Also, I end up meeting lots of very interesting people with different perspectives. The different perspectives at this conference are probably the most important things, not only do I try to share things, but I'm trying to learn from other people all the time. And I think those problems that people end up having, or trying to solve within their own teams, end up helping me build up a library or a set of patterns that I can then start to apply to my own work and gain new viewpoints from those perspectives.