We’re certainly feeling those post-fest blues right now, but although the curtains have once again closed on our virtual stage - it was an absolute privilege to bring the global product community together once more for Product-Led Festival 3.0.

It was a huge success thanks to the 3,600+ product professionals who attended the 40+ action-led presentations, asked burning questions, shared, networked and absorbed all the thought-leading content they could handle. Yeah, it was pretty epic.

The range and diversity of topics on offer was huge, but there were some key recurring themes and trends that appeared across the 3 days. And we’ve uncovered some top takeaways right here.

Before we delve into them though, remember that if you missed the fest, or you want a second helping, grab yourself a membership plan to catch up on all the presentations!

Organizational culture is key to creating powerful product teams

Being able to effectively create and lead powerful teams is pivotal to product-led growth. And leading product orgs and fostering career progression and development requires effective collaboration and a strong level of cultural awareness.

We saw many sessions covering the challenges leading product orgs are facing when it comes to building successful teams, and some fundamental points came up that those in product needed to focus on now more than ever, including:

  • Developing a greater understanding of how building products for diverse audiences requires diverse teams. As you bring different people from different backgrounds into the product life cycle, this will also bring new ideas and fresh perspectives into the development process. Diverse thinking is the way forward.
  • Success is centred on how teams operate and execute, and not on the individual. And recognizing this is essential to the role of any individual product manager or leader. In order to be a successful product leader, you need a solid team and a depth of focus across multiple layers of product work.
  • Fear of collaboration and uncertainty about expectations is hindering cross-functional team structures. In order to better facilitate effective collaboration, and be a true collaborator in product, a focus on threat management, collaboration blind spots, and empathy are absolute musts.
  • Embracing the drive for change and being humble is just as important as voraciously consuming analytics, customer personas and user research.
“Devote equal amounts of time to refining your product craft and honing your senses. Observing organizational behaviors, norms, and patterns are just as important to the success of your product as your technical abilities.”

Kevin Sakamoto, Director of Digital Product Operations at Dollar Shave Club

Resources for product leadership:

The evolution of the product-led growth mindset

Of course, every product org looks for ways to measure customer experience, accelerate adoption and improve customer retention. But although fast, iterative experiments can, and often do, work effectively for growth teams, there seems to be a shifting mindset towards taking bigger bets on larger projects. And striking a fine balance between the two.

According to Chris Gallelleo of Strava:

“In some spaces, Growth teams can be more impactful by making big bets instead of iterative work (e.g. shifting customer perception, or changing a product’s navigation). As a PM, you should think about:
Why take this bet? Is there a big enough spark?
Is there a more iterative process you could take instead of placing a bet? How big of an impact do you need to see in order to justify placing a bet instead of starting small?”

OKRs all the way

Metrics are of course invaluable to product-led growth, especially when it comes to painting a clear picture of product performance, customer behaviour and revenues.

But there are difficulties being faced in this data-driven age, specifically when it comes to separating out what’s important from all the clutter.

The movement from roadmaps to OKRs has been addressing this issue, and has become quite the trending topic. Utilizing objectives and key results isn’t a new concept, but more product orgs are turning to setting effective OKRs, and this of course requires an understanding how teams set them and how they need to present all the facts and priorities needed.

For many product orgs who are frequently misaligned, with product doing one thing and engineering another, for example. Or for those who are completely adrift with no clear strategy, OKRs can be the solution to these scenarios and many others.

OKRs can be harnessed for autonomy and focus, providing the ability for companies to experiment and discover the right path forward, and push through the most difficult problems.

Kyle Evans of Teem by iOFFICE has this to say after the fest:

“OKRs can be difficult to move from theory to practice. But if we effectively leverage the strengths of OKRs, and understand and avoid the most common pitfalls, we can harness the autonomy and focus they give our teams to deliver actual value for our users and our businesses. It’s not always easy, but it is worth the effort (and occasional failure) to reorient ourselves from delivering features to delivering outcomes.”

Still unsure about OKRs? No problem, check out these resources:

AI in product is approaching a turning point

Soon virtually all product management roles will require AI know-how, and while PMs may not need a data science degree to deliver AI-enabled products, a sound understanding of the field will be essential.

As AI and machine learning (ML) is becoming even more ubiquitous and critical to the success of a lot of products today, it’s no surprise that we saw many sessions on this topic at the fest. Covering everything from advancements in ML and privacy for product managers, to AI automation and augmentation.

A common theme throughout was a focus on understanding the fundamentals, and how building a base knowledge is becoming more relevant to PMs in high tech industries, to help demystify AI and ML for the future.

Resources for understanding AI/ML:

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