In this keynote from #mtpcon London, VP Product Management at Procore Technologies Ezinne Udezue explains that it’s vital for product managers to create the right conditions for their teams to be successful. She examines the ways in which this can be achieved.
- Product managers must create the conditions for their teams to be successful
- We need to value people, relentlessly focus on impact and develop continuous empathy for our customers by respecting the craft of product management
Ezinne begins her talk by saying that the product manager’s job is to “create the right conditions for the team to solve the right customer problem with the right solution, delivered at the right time to drive the right business value”.
Many break this down into six core competencies:
- Strategic thinking
- Details and quality
- User empathy and science
But what does it take to get to that next level of competence?
Invest in Understanding People
First, Ezinne highlights the importance of taking time to find out more about the people who you work with. The better you understand people, she explains, the more you can empathise, trust, and work with them. This has been the core approach which has moved product development forward – bringing UX, product and engineering together. Next comes greater perspectives into the design processes – including disciplines such as marketing, QA or Customer success teams.
Relentlessly Focus on Impact
We all know that outcomes are better than outputs. But impacts should be prioritised above all else. These are the long term, often indirect effects of your outcomes. They are hard to measure – but they are what we hope for or intend our efforts to accomplish. To focus on impact, we have to keep asking if there was a better or quicker way to achieve the same goal.
In the end, we have to ask if it was all worth it. Your teams should be able to illustrate the return on investment that they are responsible for. If you don’t, you’ll always be seen as a cost centre rather than an asset for the business to leverage to drive impact.
Develop Empathy for Your Customers
Listening is not empathy, says Ezinne. She says that to be truly empathetic, you have to be able to imagine what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes. The best way to do this is to experience their day-to-day alongside them.
Users often don’t talk about what they do before and after they use your product. You have to explore with them the full picture of what they’re trying to achieve. There are many different data points to help you understand this – and more importantly get ahead of what people need now, to see what they will want in the future.
In addition, you need to speak to people who aren’t yet your customers. People you couldn’t recruit are an incredible source of information for what your next set of product features could and should be.
Curate Frameworks and Systems for the Craft
Finally, Ezinne tells us that there are lots of different tools at our disposal as product managers. We need to take an interest in them, respect the craft and studiously decide which ones to use and which to ignore. Read the books, but go ahead and use the tools and practice.