The Chief Product Officer Summit has come and gone. The jam-packed day was full of expert insights and actionable advice from product leaders in a series of spectacular panel discussions.

Over 2,000 C-suite execs, VPs, and Heads of Product tuned in to share, network and absorb all the thought-leading content, curated specifically for those in leadership roles. The range of subjects on offer ranged from how to deliver value based on feedback, to the data-driven CPO and how to build a good product strategy.

We’ve narrowed down the day of insights into some top takeaways, but if you want to relive the whole thing, grab yourself a membership plan to catch up on all the panels!

The characteristics that bolster a great product strategy

Having a coherent long-term strategy is crucial for product teams, and a strong strategy should demonstrate how you’re building towards your vision while hitting business outcomes along the way. Of course, the real power behind a product strategy derives from what you define. This helps your organization understand which projects fall outside the overall strategy and could potentially distract from specific goals.

Everyone has a different perception of what a product strategy should look like, and our experts shared their top tips into what can make a product strategy good (or GREAT!):

  • Leveling up fidelity - Nailing the right level of fidelity for where the product maturity is currently at is a key characteristic of a solid product strategy. Avoid it being at a level where you’re suffocating teams and preventing them from being able to make decisions on what’s being built and how etc. Having the right level of fidelity can take the product team from where they are to where they want to be in a way that's digestible and actionable.
  • Maintain clear and simple communication - Even great strategies sometimes fail due to a lack of clear communication. From an internal standpoint, it’s crucial that strategy and vision is communicated with product teams from the outset (and constantly reiterated!) so that everyone is working towards the same outcomes. Externally, clear and simple communication is essential to connect with customers in order to address pain points, remain competitive, and deliver compelling products.
  • Focus on your North Star metric - You need to define the main area that you’re focusing on and ensure you’re moving forwards in that direction; so figure out what your North Star is, and understand where you’re tracking towards. This helps anchor the team and focus them on the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’
  • Satisfy multiple audiences - Often your product needs to satisfy multiple audiences, whether they be buyers, customers, users or consumers so it’s important to embed empathy into your product strategy. Your strategy needs to consider all the various personas who will test or use your product to ensure it’s meeting their needs and desired outcomes.

Productboard’s Scott Baldwin led the discussion and neatly summed up his key takeaways:

“Never underestimate the importance of having a vision and strategy and how it can be used to bring others on-side and feel empowered to do the right work and deliver customer value.”
“Never underestimate the importance of storytelling and being able to successfully socialize and share your strategy and how that can be the difference between success and failure.”
“Never underestimate the importance of engaging broadly with others when shaping your strategy.”

Resources for product strategy:

Inform your gut instinct with data

The need to be data-driven in a product-led org is more pivotal than ever, but it’s important not to focus on complete perfection when analyzing product data.

When it comes to analyzing data, it’s difficult to know when you’ve done ‘enough’ to make the best decision on how to move forward. In truth, you’ll likely never be in a position where you’ll be able to analyze everything and answer every question. If you try to do this, you’ll likely just end up taking valuable time away from developing the product. As CPO, you are the expert, and it can be beneficial to sometimes follow your instincts with what the data is telling you.

Data can provide you with more confidence in the specific areas you feel unsure in, or that have the most risk. This can give you the clarity to boost momentum before making any big decisions.

Resources for product data and analytics:

“How to turn noise into signal; specifically, how to leverage various feedback tools & approaches to gathering data and insights depending on where you are in your product journey.
"The importance of focusing on customer outcomes you are trying to drive as a guiding principle and approach."
"It’s up to all of us to encourage environments where it’s okay to test and fail. Then learn and grow.”

Dana Rosenberg, VP of Product Management at Mastercard

Separate the signal from the noise through feedback

Feedback can provide invaluable perspectives for product leaders, from sprint planning to larger and more strategic initiatives. But how do you leverage this in the planning and ideation process? Our panels on leveraging feedback loops explored this, delving into how feedback is measured in different ways and at different stages in the product journey, using various tools and techniques.

Targeted usability studies and primary research came up as an effective way of informing a specific product feature and functionality. The same can be said of deploying videos based on Hotjar tools to create heatmaps for customer feedback and utilizing A/B testing to figure out what customers are saying, distilling the signal from the noise based on pre-determined metrics.

Identifying what’s meaningful from feedback loops is crucial. It’s important for product leaders to be able to prioritize when it comes to different signals, and be continually focused on customer outcomes to drive growth.

B2B vs B2C, bridging the gap with empathy

There’s sometimes a perception that B2B and B2C product management are worlds apart. But this isn’t necessarily true. As our panelists discussed at the Summit, while there are some key differences in approaches at the end of the day it simply comes down to remembering you’re always dealing with humans, who have needs, pains and potential gains.

We are seeing the lines start to blur with the consumerization of SaaS buying and so there is a case that B2B has a lot to learn from B2C… however lessons can be taken both ways.

In order to create winning products for either audience the core principles remain the same - talk to buyers and users, create a culture of empathy and design thinking and always keep your customer challenges at front of mind.

Leading product in young or mature companies comes down to problem-solving

In building a path from a young to a mature company, it’s important to realize that the way people approach problems can be very much the same. In a StartUp it can be easy to forget that big companies ALSO worry about dwindling user numbers or unused features… just at a different scale.

If you truly understand what people are using your product for and the problems you’re trying to solve, it’s all very much the same, whether you’re in a large org or a scaling startup. So, whether you’re worried about taking the leap from MNC to StartUp (or the other way around) , remember to just focus on the basics, on your core abilities, and your fundamental understanding of problem-solving. Everything else is just details.

“Both young and mature companies offer tremendous learning opportunities for those who know how to grasp them. You’re in the driver’s seat. Product can vary a lot from company to company, and yet it always boils down to the same basics: know your customer; iterate; test. The rest is commentary”

Christine Dupuis, VP of Product at Heyday AI

Aaand thats a wrap! If we were to sum up the takeaways in just one word it would be empathy - a theme that seemed to run through every session. A huge thank you to all of our amazing speakers, it was a pleasure and privilege to host the event with those who are shaping the future of this exciting discipline… and we can’t wait until the next instalment (watch this space!👀).

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