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InfoQ Homepage Podcasts Melissa Perri on What's Needed for Effective Product Management

Melissa Perri on What's Needed for Effective Product Management

This is the Engineering Culture Podcast, from the people behind and the QCon conferences.

In this podcast, Shane Hastie, InfoQ Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, talks to Melissa Perri, a UX and Product Management expert and founder of Produx Labs.

Key Takeaways

  • Put value first – it’s not about building more stuff but making sure we build the right thing for the right people

  • Product ownership is about optimising value for the organisation
  • Managers need to understand their role in product management
  • Identify outcomes and define pirate metrics for success
  • Empower teams to achieve the outcomes, not deliver features


0m:54s Launching an online Product Management school

1m:10s Product Ownership is more than writing user stories

1m:35s Product Ownership includes understanding strategy, prioritization, using experiments to learn about product needs

2m:15s Start with proper education of product owners

2m:40s The importance of understanding the business needs, not just what people are asking for

2m:45s Relating needs back to business goals and outcomes

2m:52s Don’t just “gather requirements” without talking to real users of the product or service

3m:05s Management team whims are not product needs; management needs to let the product owners be OWNERS of the product

3m:15s “Mini CEO” is a dumb concept - product owners don’t have CEO level authority, so calling them this sets unrealistic expectations

3m:32s Management often wants product owners to be decision makers, but don’t support them by relinquishing authority to the product owner

3m:45s Management should communicate the metrics and goals to the product owner and let them work with the delivery team(s) to figure out how to achieve them

4m:20s Product owners told to make decisions but not actually empowered to do so

4m:35s Focus on training the managers on what they need to do to effectively support product ownership and how to communicate clear boundaries and goals

5m:20s A product strategy is not a plan

5m:55s Common approach is for managers to define the features and roadmap instead of identifying and communicating the goals, and trust the teams to figure out the best way to achieve the goals

6m:20s This is an emergent strategy supported by a system of metrics rather than a list of things to build

7m:10s This is a big shift in thinking and approach for many organizations. It is how many successful organizations do work

7m:20s The Toyota Kata improvement approach is founded in a system of metrics. A vision, a challenge and target conditions are set and the teams empowered and supported to achieve the outcomes

8m:00s This continuous improvement approach is one of the foundations for Toyota’s success, and is an approach we should be using

8m:25s Teams and team members need to be supported to work in this way

8m:35s Some people just want to follow a plan; there is a place for them but it may not be in the product ownership space

8m:55s Great product owners are curious, they go out and find out what is the best solution, not just a solution but the very best one to meet users’ needs

9m:10s This only works if management has created a safe environment; it’s OK to learn, OK to experiment and OK to make mistakes (with a limited impact area)

9m:35s When people have a safe space they are open to experimentation and find new and innovative ways of doing things

9m:55s “Release this feature by the end of the year” is not a valid goal

10m:15s Good goals help you further the business and fall into different categories. Use Pirate Metrics which look at the customer lifecycle of engagement with your product.

10m:25s The AARRR Metrics – Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, Referral

11m:05s This changes the conversation about success by linking the metrics to organization outcomes

11m:25s The importance of making the outcomes visible across the organisation, which is a challenge in some large and complex companies. Product owners and teams need to understand the goals of the line of business area they are working in

11m:50s In many organizations the metrics are not transparent, which makes it hard for teams to align around them

12m:10s We can help to overcome this lack of visibility by training managers to be more effective communicators and how to support their teams

12m:35s In the complex software world no single person can have all the ideas, leverage the knowledge and wisdom of your teams

12m:55s This is most often a symptom of not giving managers the knowledge and support they need to be able to effectively lead

13m:20s Managers are often promoted into their role because they were good at doing the work, but they are not given training on how to manage and lead people- this can be overwhelming and causes a major problem for many organizations


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