In this #mtpcon London+EMEA keynote Georgie Smallwood, CPO at Tier Mobility, explains why an understanding of outcomes and impacts are essential to successful product management.
- Outcomes are an important component of a successful business, along with strategy, purpose, and skills.
- What we want to deliver is impact – if there’s a great roadmap, great strategy and great purpose but no impact, then you’re going nowhere.
- “The way” is very important but not discussed much. It means things like context, principles and values which contribute to a successful business.
- A product manager or leader should be clear on the way in order to deliver successful initiatives that have an impact on the company’s outcomes.
- Anyone can be a leader, but a great leader is someone who can set a clear way of operating for the people in the organisation.
Getting the outcomes you want
A perfect roadmap doesn’t necessarily mean you get the outcomes you want to achieve, she says. In life, we do something to get somewhere or something, or someone, and in product we call this value which manifests as a solution – customers use a product to buy a pair of shoes, find somewhere to work and so on. Businesses build products for the same reasons – higher customer lifetime value, new target users and so on. Outcomes are created and depend on what we’re trying to achieve and how we’re trying to achieve it.
What is an outcome?
Outcomes are defined by indicators that are measurable by the team, says Georgie, so they are measurable for the user and measurable for the business. They’re not solution dependent and they focus on solving the problem. She says an outcome isn’t a revenue goal or a product – an outcome for a fintech would be 60% of users making 10 transactions in 35 days, and for a mobility business like Tier it might be 80% of first-time riders riding again within 72 hours.
Georgie then looks at the components that make up a successful business. Many companies think they will be successful with initiatives or good roadmaps, but this often results in feature teams, and a feature team is not well placed to work towards good outcomes. “But then companies realise that, to define the right initiatives, they need a strategy,” says Georgie, but purpose should be at the heart of the business. “Sometimes this is very clear in companies, but sometimes it needs a bit of work. Either way, you need a clear purpose and it needs to be true. If the purpose is inauthentic or fake it won’t work.” You should ask if you have the skills and capabilities within the company to be successful. For more on this see Georgie’s presentation Product Tetris – The ultimate game of leadership.
It’s all about the impact
Georgie jokes that she should rename the presentation “it’s all about the impact”. She says: “Let’s face it, that’s why we’re all in product. We want to deliver value, we want to deliver impact.”
What we want is impact, she says – if there’s a great roadmap, great strategy and great purpose but no impact, then you’re going nowhere.
But we don’t often discuss “the way” that we do things, this means things like context, principles and values, says Georgie. All of these are crucial in understanding where to start. If we skip the way we want to do things we end up with what Georgie calls “busy chaos” and not a lot of impact. It doesn’t scale, and great outcomes come from doing fewer things better. The reason the much-imitated Spotify model works for the company is because the way is clear, and the reason it fails when imitators try to copy it is because the way – context, principles and values – isn’t clear.
As a product manager or leader, you should be clear on the way so that you can deliver successful initiatives that have an impact on the company’s outcomes. Anyone can be a leader, but a great leader is someone who can set a clear way of operating for the people in the organisation.
Tools and tips
Georgie finishes her presentation by suggesting some resources that address some important elements for the way.
- Company values – The HP Way by David Packard
- Clarity on who makes decisions – 6 decision-making frameworks, review.firstround.com
- Product or design principles – Megan Murphy, VP of Product at Hotjar, has created a series of videos
- Across company prioritisation against company outcomes – Decision prioritisation frameworks by Productschool.com
- Success metrics for each team and reporting on those metrics – Defining product success metrics
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