Once again, we’re feeling those post-fest blues, but what an amazing three days of action-led presentations and fantastic insights we had.
Thousands of you attended the fourth ever Product-Led Festival to ask your burning questions, share, network, and absorb all the thought-leading content you could handle. The range and diversity of topics on offer was off the scale, and there were some key recurring themes and trends that appeared across the event.
We’ve unpacked a selection of top takeaways right here. Before we delve into them, you can relive the fest or catch up on everything you missed by grabbing yourself a membership plan.
Takeaway #1: Innovation can often require the LEAST approach
Innovation is of course a critical part of successful product-led growth, as an organization needs a culture of innovation to create great product strategies that deliver value.
The fest was full of themes surrounding building innovative products, from leveraging customer feedback to embracing cross-functional collaboration. But without an initial culture of innovation, any vision of a product’s future will be uncompelling at best, and nonexistent at worst.
Creating and embedding an innovation culture into an organization involves implementing a cultural shift. You need to make consistent innovation the path of least resistance. But what about fostering innovation in enterprise companies? This gets tricky due to the complex structure and maturity of these organizations. But thankfully Alessandro Festa laid out the perfect framework...
The LEAST approach can be summarized in five key points to help product managers drive innovation, lets briefly touch on these here:
- Listen - Discover new ideas and look into validating them. Test hypotheses, and experiment to turn ideas into products by providing validation and business intelligence.
- Evaluate - Provide a rapid evaluation of an idea in the context of the company. Look at how it aligns with the org, if it’s a well-known market topic, if it’s in demand, etc.
- Augment - A good idea needs a plan. Work out the answers you need to solve when it comes to executing the idea. Work out the what, why, where, and how.
- Structure - Build the minimal business case and evolve this into something more tangible. Translate the idea into a business case with operative steps.
- Transform - With new ideas come new challenges, so “transform” is using a PM dedicated to innovation, who can understand if the new business case could be a new potential product, then delegate and engage the right team, and more.
Check out the full talk on “Fostering Innovation in Enterprise Companies” on-demand to learn more.
“Remember that innovation is all about people. Each voice counts, so do not underestimate the value of engagement and be ready for unknown territories. Be ready to fail, not every idea may be successful but if you don’t try you’ll never know. Learn from others and move rapidly into the evaluation of the idea.”
Alessandro Festa, Senior Product Manager at Suse
Takeaway #2: Performance, alignment, and collaboration can be bolstered with KPI Trees
What exactly is a KPI Tree?
Well, essentially it’s a graphical method of managing KPIs. A tree diagram helps create a clear structure for KPIs so that orgs won’t lose focus.
A big topic of the fest was how these KPI Trees can be a powerful tool to help understand and drive product performance, as well as help with building high-performing teams. Planning to achieve success with a product is one thing, but PMs need to know how that success is defined. Of course, the answer to this can vary by project or team, and parameters can evolve with time.
This is precisely why KPIs are such an invaluable measure of success for any tech-minded organization, and KPI Trees can be very useful in a number of ways:
- Providing clarity - they can help you to clearly understand what KPIs are available and exactly what they’re measuring.
- Setting out a hierarchy - they can provide you with a structured ‘ladder’, with the most critical KPIs at the top.
- Keeping balance - they can help you to ensure you have a balanced range of KPIs in place that reflects effectiveness and efficiency.
“KPI trees can be easily built following a simple mathematical breakdown of your North Star metric and tying the decomposition to your business process. Aligning Teams to KPI Tree branches allows you to enable teams, make them autonomous and foster healthy collaborations.”
Florian Bonnet, Director of Product Management at Typeform
Takeaway #3: Take your career to the next level by focusing on collaboration and your competitive advantage
Leaning on your competitive advantage in order to boost your product career has been a huge topic in a number of our events, and this time we had a fantastic panel session focused on this very theme.
The panel of experts delved into how any ambitious PM looking to take their career to the next level can overcome barriers to progression; through collaboration, managing up, finding your internal champions, and creating a tactical promotion plan.
One of the key points highlighted was how PMs should seek real advice on how to take the next career step from people who can help foster learning, either by modeling what they do or asking them for direct mentorship. It can also be hugely beneficial for PMs to plan and socialize with managers on how they want to advance their careers. If there’s a special assignment you’re after or a new role you want to take on - don’t be afraid to simply ask for it.
“We grow when we collaborate. Ask yourself - who can help you? And remember, there’s really no right path to product management. If you are looking for a career change, you can come in with domain experience or you can come in with technical expertise. What matters is being able to articulate how you add value to the team with the experience you have.”
Betsie Hoyt, Director of Product Management at Viewpoint
Takeaway #4: Platform PMs and customer-focused PMs require different skill sets for success
Not all PMs are the same… of course! All product managers all care about the customer but different PMs require a different set of skills in order to be successful, drive innovation and solve customer problems.
These differences can be driven by any number of factors, from the type of organization to whether a product is being built for an enterprise or externally. These things impact the skill set of a product manager, but at the fest there was a specific focus on the differences between platform and end-user-focused PMs.
The key factors in determining the difference between an end-user-focused product manager and a platform product manager are “who does the PM advocate for?”, “what skills do they need?”, and “what outcomes are they trying to drive?” These are the aspects that help define these different PM roles.
Explore these unique skill sets and pitfalls by checking out the full talk on “What’s the difference between Platform and Customer-focused Product Management?” on-demand right here.
“The definition that you use for ‘platform’ determines the skill set that a platform product manager needs. All platform product managers need to be acutely focused on scalability and flexibility to drive necessary platform outcomes.”
Penelope Madry, VP of Product Acquisition at American Express
Takeaway #5: The trends of successful product strategies are changing
What are the core principles of a winning product strategy?
This was a hot topic throughout the fest. Making data-driven decisions and driving product adoption and innovation frequently came up as some of the key drivers of a successful product strategy. It was also clear that a great product strategy needs to serve as the connecting tissue between the organization’s objectives and the product execution. But at the heart of this, is of course the user.
Fully understanding users is becoming increasingly valuable to better understand your product’s usage and align your product organization behind the right metrics. This ties into how product teams can use product analytics as part of their roadmap prioritization process to make more informed decisions.
- Product strategies are shifting from being feature-focused to being much more outcome-driven while being supported by consumer-like product experiences.
- Engaging users proactively is a key focus as customer engagement models evolve.
- And pricing and packaging models are being aligned more towards what’s being delivered in order to allow users to pay for what they actually use, so that focused “land and expand” optimization can occur.
“User behavior is always changing, especially in the B2B and SAAS space. Users want to try before they buy, they want to self-educate through usage, and they want to see and understand how the product delivers to ensure it really fits their use cases.”
Mickey Alon, Founder, and CTO at Gainsight
Didn’t manage to catch the festival? Or fancy a re-watch to really take in all those actionable insights?
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