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Launching new products inside big organisations – Hannah Gibson on The Product Experience

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What’s it like launching new products within a big organisation like Ocado? In this week’s podcast, Lily and Randy sat down with Hannah Gibson, Chief Product Officer at Ocado Technology to discuss her experiences in product management over the past 10 years at her organisation, and the key lessons learned from launching a new product inside a much bigger establishment.


 

 

 

 

Featured links

Featured Links: Follow Hannah on LinkedIn and Twitter | Work with Hannah! | Ocado

Episode transcript

Randy Silver: 

Wait a minute, Lily. I’ve just got to get the door. My my Ocado deliveries here.

Lily Smith: 

Wait, but we’re about to do an interview. Randy.

Randy Silver: 

You have this right. It’s strangely topical because we’re interviewing Hannah Gibson, the Chief Product Officer at Okada today. And I forgot I’ve actually already bought my apples and donuts.

Lily Smith: 

Okay, but are you trying to be Ken Norton? He’s the one who brings the donuts?

Randy Silver: 

No, I’m just hungry. But back to the subject at hand. What are we talking to Hana about today,

Lily Smith: 

we’re talking about how you launch a brand new product from within a big organisation, the challenges and how to be successful, and we discuss whether in this scenario, you truly are the CEO of the product. Product experience is brought to you by mind the product.

Randy Silver: 

Every week, we talk to the best product people from around the globe about how we can improve our practice, and build products that people love.

Lily Smith: 

Because it mind the product.com to catch up on past episodes, and to discover an extensive library of great content and videos,

Randy Silver: 

browse for free, or become a minor product member to unlock premium articles, unseen videos, AMA’s roundtables, discounts store complexes around the world training opportunities, and more

Lily Smith: 

mind the product also offers free product tank meetups in more than 200 cities. And there’s probably one day you Hannah, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s really great to have you here. So before we get started with our topic, it’d be great if you could give us a real quick intro into who you are, and your background in product like where you got started. Because it’s always nice to hear an origin story. And then also, what you’re doing today.

Hannah Gibson: 

Yeah, it’s great to be here. So I’m I’m Chief Product Officer at Accardo technology. Many people in the UK anyway probably know about Accardo as a grocery company. We’re actually not just a grocery company, but we are a technology company. And we sell our platform to grocers worldwide. And I’ve been at Accardo for about 10 years. But if you think about origin, I guess I started my life out, like many product people, I think in consultancy, so a bit of time in consulting a couple other things and then joined Accardo, actually, in the retail side, thinking more about online trading, but very quickly moved into product. And I’ve been there for really kind of almost the last 10 years. But I think it’s changed a lot along the way, obviously 10 years sounds like a long time some people have been placed. But there hasn’t really felt like one gig or one job, you know, we’ve changed from being UK only to global and change from being B to C to B to B we’ve changed from doing software to hardware as well. So the changes been huge and been really fun kind of product journey along the way.

Lily Smith: 

And one of the things that you’ve done at Accardo is launched new products. So tell us about what’s that been like launching a new product inside a much bigger org what what was the product and kind of what would have been challenges that you had?

Hannah Gibson: 

Yeah, I thought I’d maybe reflecting on this thinking about not even just a new product, but a new service. So really thinking about like a big product launch, right? We don’t see all the time, like new features, new iterations, new parts of the platform. But actually, we did launch a new product, which was called Accardo zoo, where we launched really shortly time, grocery orders to get your groceries delivered quickly, to customers. And that was quite a big shift, right, and quite a different way of thinking about how we do online grocery. And I think when you’re trying to do something quite different and launch something quite new within a big organisation, you’ve got to think quite differently about how you’re going to go about that. And as you know, as you said your question, really, what are the challenges you might face? And certainly, when we were approaching this, we were thinking about it? For me, there were a couple of things that I think really stood out. One of them was like, how do you help people think differently in terms of mindset about what the challenge is you’re thinking about? And in product, it’s always about hypotheses, right? You’ve got to figure out what your hypotheses are. You’ve got to try and test them. And then you’ve got to go from there. And what’s really missing when you’re launching something completely new, right, not just an iteration, is you’ve got a really solid vision of where you think it might go. And I think sometimes in product people shy away a little bit, I think from setting the vision setting where you can get to, and actually I think it’s okay to say this is where we think the product could go. It’s going to change, I’m going to be wrong on some of the aspects. But actually, when you’re trying to do something new in a large organisation or even when you’re trying to do something new and a startup, being very clear about what the possible could be. I think it’s really important to this. I know for me about mindset Other maybe the other bit is an improvisation. How do you think about how you can prioritise how you can structure but we can get into that if you’re into that more.

Randy Silver: 

So, Ocado has evolved a huge amount in the last 10 years, you went from launching things that were, you know, as you said, you were a b2c, you were launching the service in the first place. And then you pivoted along the way and did lots of other things. is launching a new product or service within the company the same now as it was when you were startup scale up mode? Or is it totally different now that you’ve got global enterprise customers?

Hannah Gibson: 

Yeah, it’s a it’s a really good question. And of course, it’s different. I still think underlying it, it’s the same kind of attitude of like, let’s learn, and let’s understand, let’s try and build products that we believe people love as weapons, they are my product. But actually, absolutely, when you’ve got a b2b, customer base, actually, you’ve got to think a lot harder about what are the things you can do to enable it to scale from the outside that you might not have done otherwise, you’ve got to think more clearly about how it’s going to meet different needs of different customers in different locations across the globe. And you’ve got to think probably a bit harder about the prioritisation because actually, there’s multiple partners at play, and multiple people who could get benefit from what you’re building. So I think it adds a lot of complexity, overall, how you approach it. But as ever, with product management, I don’t know if you guys find this, but I do think the general themes are the same. It’s just how you apply them can change. And you can put different focus on different parts of that, of that product launch, you know, like, have you got hypothesis, as you know, how hard you think about it, and how much you test that might be different, depending on the scale of the change, and the scale of the impact it’s gonna have across your customer base. So I think the same things remain true. But I’m just you implement them in slightly different ways.

Randy Silver: 

Good. So let’s dig into that a little bit. I’m curious, what are the different kinds of things? What’s one of the challenges that came up of doing it a different way, as you evolved, you know, whether it was with working with internal stakeholders who now maybe had a business that they wanted to protect or going from doing a B tests with customers to doing, you can’t really do that with enterprise quite the same way? Well, you can

Hannah Gibson: 

in a way, right, so you still want to a B test. And we have a B test now with our partners. And so what she is one of those partners to start doing a B tests with so that we can learn and grow with them and roll that out then to the other partners. So you still can do that. I think you know, when you think about those much larger scale experiments, that Zoom example we talked about before, I think that, you know, that requires a lot more techy everyone the journey of where you’re going, helping them explain understand the why help them understand what the potential might be. But in a way, I think it’s, you know, that’s just about the kind of the process that you’ve been placed and how much energy you put into different parts of the process, really.

Lily Smith: 

And you mentioned that it’s really important when you’re launching a new product inside a bigger org to sell the vision. How how did you go about creating your vision for Accardo? Zoom and selling that internally?

Hannah Gibson: 

Yeah, it’s a great question. So I always came back to two things, which I think in products always really matter. The first is, what’s the customer experience? And the second is kind of what’s the what’s the PnL impact? So what’s what’s it going to look like, from a longer term perspective, for profitability point of view, and on the customer experience side, we went and did a bunch of as you normally do, you know, cuz customer interviews and understood what’s how customers were shopping today, and what they were using the different purchases for what their different habits were. So with a diary studies, we did interviews, all the rest of it, we looked at some data as well, which gave us an idea but couldn’t tell us exactly what they might do in the future. And with that, we created as your as your Aussie often do a set of personas, which we could then go and talk to random people around the business and have had quite a strong sense of that as exactly what the party kind of segment was to go after. And then on the operational side, I was crystal clear on like, Okay, this is what we want the end game, p&l to look like. This is kind of what we got to believe to get there. And I think that was very helpful for people to be able to see the clarity around. This is where the customers were heading. And then also, this was from a operational point of view, what we’ve got to achieve to get there now, doesn’t mean you got to get there on day one. But it means when people start to understand what we’re going to build what we’re going to do it, you’re giving more context, and you’re allowing people to make those trade offs themselves, allow them to prioritise the right things. I think that that helps a lot.

Lily Smith: 

And I find that really interesting because one of the things I think that’s different about launching a product inside a bigger org versus working for a startup as a product person is the potential ownership of the kind of the p&l URL for that product launch. And this is where, you know, that kind of classic thing of the CEO of the product Sure, could actually be slightly more accurate. So I’m interested to know, like, within that product launch that you were doing, and kind of the PnL that you put together, like, how did you go about that part? Was that you with the finance team? Or were you kind of left to your own devices? And you have to come up with something that worked? Like?

Hannah Gibson: 

Good question. Good question. I think, definitely, I thought a lot about what was the right structure? And what’s our organisational kind of model that we wanted to make this work really well? And I always thought about it as Who do you want dedicated to the kind of the product launch? And who do you want to kind of lean on who who actually is best to still sit within their organisational current departments that you kind of want to bring into the, into the virtual club of that of that product launch. And so we have those who are dedicated to to the products, which was, you know, the Tech Tech team, for example. And that was in part because we didn’t want there to be caches around prioritisation of that, and then a lot of sense for them to be fully focused on this. And there’s other areas where it actually you need kind of some, some quite specific expertise. And but you might not need it full time. So for finance, for example, yeah, you know, with the console neighbourhood support on the team, marketing, for example, actually, you know, we utilise the main marketing team have a lot of knowledge, but we had someone within my business unit who was focused on marketing just for that product. So we did this kind of blurring of who did what, who sat within which partner organisation, but most importantly, I thought about us all as one big virtual team. And definitely, as always, you know, the sum of the parts, you should be able to make greater than the whole by making sure that everyone’s really focused on what we could achieve and the excitement of it all. But I think you’re right, that in the sense that the fact that the broader p&l meant that we can actually really all focus on the right trade offs, and wherever you’re going to, you know, think about the overall prioritisation I think everybody even if they weren’t, you know, fully full time on this on this, we’re excited about being part of it. If anything, I probably had more people who wants to be part of it, the less so that was? I guess.

Randy Silver: 

So that’s an interesting one, I find there’s a huge difference in the product managers I’ve met, who have a consulting background versus the ones who don’t, and the way that they can build relationships around p&l and understand the difference between your this is what we’re going to do this the theory of where we want to go versus the people who have been more operational in the past, or spend more time on that side and the reality. I’m curious, the people on your team who haven’t come from a consulting background, how do you how do you train them up? How do you get them into the realities this and get them to be able to have those, those really deep relationships with people on the other side? Yeah,

Hannah Gibson: 

it’s a great question, right? Because we’re rolling out some kind of commercial training at the moment to help people understand better partners business models, our business model, kind of the sensitivities, I always talk a lot actually about, kind of sensitivity analysis, I think is a great thing to do as a product manager, figuring out what if like, what if this was a bit higher? What if this was a bit lower? Because the reality is product is, we actually know not very much about what’s going to happen, right? And so all you can do is prepare for the different eventualities of what might happen and understand some the kind of the importance of that. So yeah, we are rolling out, you know, commercial training, but I also try and make sure that we are spending a lot of time with, you know, various parts of the business. And we, I think using the right metrics makes a big difference as well. So I think as ever, if you get the right metrics, and help people tie back their metric, to that line of the p&l, I think that makes a huge difference. And everyone can see what part they’re playing. I also think it helps people work across different streams, different boundaries, because ultimately, you’ve got this kind of guiding light guiding metric that you can all go back to. So yeah, I think it’s a super important conversation to have. But equally, I do think, as ever, a mix of product skill sets is super important. I’ve got a slightly more commercial background, but I haven’t spent night shifts in a warehouse, you know, at various points in time. So I’m of my team ham, and they bring an awful lot to the table because they’ve done that thing as ever with products. You want a blend of different skill sets, different different competencies that you can bring to the table.

Randy Silver: 

So I worked at Amazon years ago, I did do the night shifts. They took us in the actual as an editor at the time, and they took us through some of the night shifts at Christmas time. So I know exactly what your topic was interested. I learned a tonne it was it was something I was glad to be doing for a week. And that was it’s kind of thing rather than rather than as a full time job. But I’m curious when did the other berries I’ve seen is is cultural and it’s just terminology at times. So product people like to say things like we’re going to fail fast and iterate and get better and too many times the operational people over worked with her ever that and just heard the word fail, they didn’t hear the intent behind it, which is we’re going to learn fast not commit resources, we’re not going to do a six month waterfall project when we can do a one week experiment kind of thing. But, you know, to two nations or two parts of the business separated by a common language sometimes. And I’m just curious if that’s something you’ve seen, or if there’s how you train people to build a better relationship by speaking the right language to?

Hannah Gibson: 

Yeah, it’s a great question. I think, actually, because we’ve been, I’d frame it as almost like learning together across both the Operations and Technology for some time. That actually, you know, we do work very closely with the operations team. And I think they understand pretty well how we learned and we’ve got to where we have, because we have, you know, tried things run hard at things, we’ve always tried to think differently about how we can solve problems. I think that’s ingrained in the culture generally. So I think I feel pretty lucky from that perspective, having said that, there is always a lovely healthy tension that will exist. And I think for the right reasons, what we try and do is talk about, you know, what the trade offs are, and help people on that journey and help people understand what the different options can be. And haven’t found any specific challenges with language. I shouldn’t say, I don’t think we’ve come across that as a particular particular issue. But again, maybe I’m just lucky from from where we’re at. And we’ve all been on that journey together. And I think that makes it a bit easier.

Randy Silver: 

Or you’re just better at it than I am, which is fine.

Lily Smith: 

Okay, so with any sort of product launch or startup business, you’re kind of you’re aiming to have an MVP to start with. And sometimes this can be slightly controversial as to what your MVP is. So how did you get to a decision around what to launch with with the first piece? And did you because I imagine if you’re launching a new product, in quite a big business, which is you’ve kind of already said, Everyone was super excited to get involved, is probably more a case of like holding people at the door and trying to do things in secret as much as possible. That’s why we’re doing anyway. Yeah,

Hannah Gibson: 

so I guess the MVP question is, is always a great one, right. And I always think about this as trying to break it down a little bit. And, again, just going back to being really clear about what you’re trying to achieve. And for us in the grocery business, what’s really important is customer retention. It’s a bit more like a subscription model, I guess that a transactional model. And when you’re launching a service, you need people to want to come back to it again. And again, like grocery shopping can be weekly, if not more frequent. And so for me, it was all about, again, as I’ve argued for management about prioritisation. And so being really clear about what’s gonna matter. And for me, it was around that customer experience, I used to I couldn’t phrase called a perfect execution, right, whatever happened, it happened to, to the customer, seem perfect, seemed like whatever we promised, we were going to deliver that perfect that would everything from how we built the product, how we thought about our marketing, so if we didn’t deliver your product, within the first few weeks, we get a pretty generous, like, you know, refund for that, because we knew it mattered so much to customers. But behind the scenes, we were definitely you know, less optimal in terms of process or optimization of the processes, which, for Akali was something that we spend so many years optimising to suddenly launch something which wasn’t there was obviously quite a different thing. And we had a path to get there. We knew that what looked like, but we were okay, on day one doing something different. And so, yeah, with MVP, it was definitely about thinking about what really, really mattered. We also within that kind of perfect execution, I definitely did scoped a couple of things. So we could be perfect at the things we kind of told our customers, we’re going to be great if that made sense. So try not to overextend that experience. And again, that just goes back to understanding what you what you think really is going to matter. And then focus on

Randy Silver: 

that when you do that you’re going to have an effect on this p&l projections that we talked about earlier. How do you sell that? How do you create the environment so that everyone else can just keep on doing the work, rather than it becoming, you know, a pile on environment?

Hannah Gibson: 

Yeah, it’s a great question. I think there’s, I think there’s two things that I always I always consider in general one is making sure everyone’s got a view of what the path is to get there. We’ve started over the last couple of years doing what we call like outcome based roadmaps. So actually, what does the past look like to get to the you know, the number you want? I think the more you can share that with, you know, stakeholders or finance I read needs to be that helps an awful lot. So yeah, we’re never not gonna upgrade to that today. But this is where Gotta get to. And then secondly, going back to that point I mentioned earlier on the kind of sensitivity analysis, because ultimately, you know, we know we’re not going to be right on everything actually interesting when we launch some of the numbers will be better than even I predicted. And I think we’re pretty optimistic person. So that was great, because actually, you know, some of these challenges weren’t there that I thought were going to be there. But don’t get me wrong. Other ones were right. But that’s okay. And I think if you can show people that, you know, depending on a couple different scenarios, these the options, we’ve got to plug those holes to make it better or to whatever, then I think that helps. I also think you kind of got to come back to A, we are doing this experiment, we’re doing this to test willingness to learn. And I spent a lot of time getting overexcited about all the stuff we were going to learn once we were alive. And I think if you get people excited about that, then you can help them on the journey too.

Lily Smith: 

So they say if you launch a product, and you’re not slightly embarrassed, then you’ve launched it too late. But it sounds like you were kind of like really careful about making sure that it was a really excellent customer experience. So do you think that

Hannah Gibson: 

could have launched earlier? Yeah, good question I actually didn’t have, I’m gonna get out of this real quick. There weren’t that many options. Because of this, when you’re building physical infrastructure. Actually, there were some timeframes around that, that you can’t necessarily change that with having said that, we could have gone live with something very manual, a lot earlier. And the problem is, if we’d done that we wouldn’t have really tested one of the core hypotheses, which is people want to have a large range of products to choose from. It’s not just about speed. It’s about choice as well. And I think, again, you gotta be very clear what you’re testing and what you believe the kind of view you’re aiming to trial. And so yeah, it’s a good question, whether we should we have got something different. Don’t get me wrong, I would say I was embarrassed about things. I think because I say, I think there are many things I’d look at and say, Well, I want to do that better. I went round our second version of this site the other day, which has got a new improved shiny version, which is fantastic. And, yeah, that made me proud. So maybe, maybe I’ll frame it in a slightly optimistic tone. And so I think I’m proud of very proud of so yeah, could we have cut, save a little bit? Maybe in some areas, but I actually think that we really proved that very fast. And, again, maybe actually reflects in your question, I think the context is always different. And the context in our world is you’re paying for a physical environment, you’re paying for operations, you’re paying for supply chain costs, you’re paying for food, that if you don’t sell will, you’ll go to waste. And so I think the context of that is quite different from doing a startup environment where you’re getting a new website live. That’s, you know, your I don’t know, is some level of service. And so, again, context matters. I think given that, I think it was it was broadly right, but don’t get me wrong, there’ll be some things that I would change.

Randy Silver: 

So that’s an interesting one, you’re talking about food, which obviously, is a sunk cost. If you’re depending on how you do, you’re talking about physical infrastructure. And you’re talking about a hypothesis of a wide range of things delivered quickly. That’s not something you can do a huge amount of iteration on in the first bit. It’s either on or it’s off. So how do you launch it? Is that something you launch? You do with? Say, Okay, we’re only going to do with to a limited range of area rate a certain number of orders per hour? Or how do you Yeah, exactly,

Hannah Gibson: 

that only so we did it within a particular radius, we built a new warehouse specifically for this, you’ve got a limited radius. Again, this goes back to why it mattered that this customer experiences vary. Because if you’ve got a limited radius, it’s not that you can just start small and then gradually roll out to more and more customers. Because if you burn through that customer base, you can’t suddenly go and get more right there in that radius, the households are there. And we’ve had a pretty aggressive target for household penetration. And so that’s why it was so important for the long term, the business case to make sure that we were really, really upfront about why that mattered. So much

Randy Silver: 

of the attitude that you take towards this because I’ve seen presentations in the past from Ocado people where they they give great lessons, they give a great talk, but at the end, there’s always a video of all the failures of the robots. And it’s great because you’re not hiding the fact that there was learning and experimentation along the way. But everyone loves to see robot fail videos.

Hannah Gibson: 

They did mostly work Randy.

Randy Silver: 

I’m not worried. I’m sure they do work just fine. And you wouldn’t be showing us the videos of the failures if you didn’t haven’t already solved it.

Lily Smith: 

So what tips would you give to someone who worked in a kind of larger organisation and had just been given a project to say, right, we’ve got this idea or this concept or we want to solve this problem. We think it’s a brand new product. It’s yours run with It like, what do they need to be mindful of? And yeah, what are your what’s your best advice for them?

Hannah Gibson: 

My top tips. My, I do think in that scenario, the idea of kind of think, like, you know, the CEO of a product, actually, it’s not a phrase that I often use, because you’ve got to think very carefully about it when you use that phrase, because actually, for many people of colour, you’re part of a bigger product is one bigger product that we that we sell. And so it doesn’t always apply. And I think that’s the case for many different product managers I speak to, but depending on the scale of what you’ve been asked to launch, think about it end to end, think about it as if it’s a business and you’re running that business. And then I think it’s super important. If it’s very new, I think this is true for startup as well as in a bigger organisation, to just continually help people understand the mindset shift. What do they know today? I’m repeat back to them what they think about how their business works today, and then tell them what’s different. Why is this different? How everyone shift into that mindset. And I think that could help an awful lot. And then I’d also say, especially in large organisations very carefully about what the team is how you bring people together in the model I mentioned before, I guess it’s pretty akin to a tribe model. It doesn’t have to be that hard, like complicated, but just be very intentional about how you set things up. And then I also think you want people who are, you’re the right people around you, not people who are advocates and people who love what you’re doing to to help you bring everyone on that journey help you get everyone there. And we had certainly had some some awesome people on the team who were just advocates, but optimist about what we’re building and how great it was, and that has ever, you know, get the right people and you are 80% of the way there. So I think he’s ever worked with some great people and you’re in a great place.

Lily Smith: 

Awesome. That sounds like very sound advice to be had. It’s been so great talking to you. And I can’t believe that conversation has just flown by so quickly. But thank you so much for joining us and imparting some of your experience and knowledge.

Hannah Gibson: 

Thank you very much for having me. Good steak.

Lily Smith: 

The product experience is the first and the best podcast from mine the product. Our hosts are me Lily Smith, and me Randy silver. Louron Pratt is our producer and Luke Smith is our editor.

Randy Silver: 

Our theme music is from Hamburg baseband power. That’s P AU. Thanks to Arnie killer who curates both product tank and MTP engage in Hamburg and who also plays bass in the band for letting us use their music. You can connect with your local product community via product tank regular free meetups in over 200 cities worldwide.

Lily Smith: 

If there’s not one near you, maybe you should think about starting one. To find out more go to mind the product.com forward slash product tank

What's it like launching new products within a big organisation like Ocado? In this week's podcast, Lily and Randy sat down with Hannah Gibson, Chief Product Officer at Ocado Technology to discuss her experiences in product management over the past 10 years at her organisation, and the key lessons learned from launching a new product inside a much bigger establishment.
       

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Featured Links: Follow Hannah on LinkedIn and Twitter | Work with Hannah! | Ocado

Episode transcript

Randy Silver:  Wait a minute, Lily. I've just got to get the door. My my Ocado deliveries here. Lily Smith:  Wait, but we're about to do an interview. Randy. Randy Silver:  You have this right. It's strangely topical because we're interviewing Hannah Gibson, the Chief Product Officer at Okada today. And I forgot I've actually already bought my apples and donuts. Lily Smith:  Okay, but are you trying to be Ken Norton? He's the one who brings the donuts? Randy Silver:  No, I'm just hungry. But back to the subject at hand. What are we talking to Hana about today, Lily Smith:  we're talking about how you launch a brand new product from within a big organisation, the challenges and how to be successful, and we discuss whether in this scenario, you truly are the CEO of the product. Product experience is brought to you by mind the product. Randy Silver:  Every week, we talk to the best product people from around the globe about how we can improve our practice, and build products that people love. Lily Smith:  Because it mind the product.com to catch up on past episodes, and to discover an extensive library of great content and videos, Randy Silver:  browse for free, or become a minor product member to unlock premium articles, unseen videos, AMA's roundtables, discounts store complexes around the world training opportunities, and more Lily Smith:  mind the product also offers free product tank meetups in more than 200 cities. And there's probably one day you Hannah, thank you so much for joining us today. It's really great to have you here. So before we get started with our topic, it'd be great if you could give us a real quick intro into who you are, and your background in product like where you got started. Because it's always nice to hear an origin story. And then also, what you're doing today. Hannah Gibson:  Yeah, it's great to be here. So I'm I'm Chief Product Officer at Accardo technology. Many people in the UK anyway probably know about Accardo as a grocery company. We're actually not just a grocery company, but we are a technology company. And we sell our platform to grocers worldwide. And I've been at Accardo for about 10 years. But if you think about origin, I guess I started my life out, like many product people, I think in consultancy, so a bit of time in consulting a couple other things and then joined Accardo, actually, in the retail side, thinking more about online trading, but very quickly moved into product. And I've been there for really kind of almost the last 10 years. But I think it's changed a lot along the way, obviously 10 years sounds like a long time some people have been placed. But there hasn't really felt like one gig or one job, you know, we've changed from being UK only to global and change from being B to C to B to B we've changed from doing software to hardware as well. So the changes been huge and been really fun kind of product journey along the way. Lily Smith:  And one of the things that you've done at Accardo is launched new products. So tell us about what's that been like launching a new product inside a much bigger org what what was the product and kind of what would have been challenges that you had? Hannah Gibson:  Yeah, I thought I'd maybe reflecting on this thinking about not even just a new product, but a new service. So really thinking about like a big product launch, right? We don't see all the time, like new features, new iterations, new parts of the platform. But actually, we did launch a new product, which was called Accardo zoo, where we launched really shortly time, grocery orders to get your groceries delivered quickly, to customers. And that was quite a big shift, right, and quite a different way of thinking about how we do online grocery. And I think when you're trying to do something quite different and launch something quite new within a big organisation, you've got to think quite differently about how you're going to go about that. And as you know, as you said your question, really, what are the challenges you might face? And certainly, when we were approaching this, we were thinking about it? For me, there were a couple of things that I think really stood out. One of them was like, how do you help people think differently in terms of mindset about what the challenge is you're thinking about? And in product, it's always about hypotheses, right? You've got to figure out what your hypotheses are. You've got to try and test them. And then you've got to go from there. And what's really missing when you're launching something completely new, right, not just an iteration, is you've got a really solid vision of where you think it might go. And I think sometimes in product people shy away a little bit, I think from setting the vision setting where you can get to, and actually I think it's okay to say this is where we think the product could go. It's going to change, I'm going to be wrong on some of the aspects. But actually, when you're trying to do something new in a large organisation or even when you're trying to do something new and a startup, being very clear about what the possible could be. I think it's really important to this. I know for me about mindset Other maybe the other bit is an improvisation. How do you think about how you can prioritise how you can structure but we can get into that if you're into that more. Randy Silver:  So, Ocado has evolved a huge amount in the last 10 years, you went from launching things that were, you know, as you said, you were a b2c, you were launching the service in the first place. And then you pivoted along the way and did lots of other things. is launching a new product or service within the company the same now as it was when you were startup scale up mode? Or is it totally different now that you've got global enterprise customers? Hannah Gibson:  Yeah, it's a it's a really good question. And of course, it's different. I still think underlying it, it's the same kind of attitude of like, let's learn, and let's understand, let's try and build products that we believe people love as weapons, they are my product. But actually, absolutely, when you've got a b2b, customer base, actually, you've got to think a lot harder about what are the things you can do to enable it to scale from the outside that you might not have done otherwise, you've got to think more clearly about how it's going to meet different needs of different customers in different locations across the globe. And you've got to think probably a bit harder about the prioritisation because actually, there's multiple partners at play, and multiple people who could get benefit from what you're building. So I think it adds a lot of complexity, overall, how you approach it. But as ever, with product management, I don't know if you guys find this, but I do think the general themes are the same. It's just how you apply them can change. And you can put different focus on different parts of that, of that product launch, you know, like, have you got hypothesis, as you know, how hard you think about it, and how much you test that might be different, depending on the scale of the change, and the scale of the impact it's gonna have across your customer base. So I think the same things remain true. But I'm just you implement them in slightly different ways. Randy Silver:  Good. So let's dig into that a little bit. I'm curious, what are the different kinds of things? What's one of the challenges that came up of doing it a different way, as you evolved, you know, whether it was with working with internal stakeholders who now maybe had a business that they wanted to protect or going from doing a B tests with customers to doing, you can't really do that with enterprise quite the same way? Well, you can Hannah Gibson:  in a way, right, so you still want to a B test. And we have a B test now with our partners. And so what she is one of those partners to start doing a B tests with so that we can learn and grow with them and roll that out then to the other partners. So you still can do that. I think you know, when you think about those much larger scale experiments, that Zoom example we talked about before, I think that, you know, that requires a lot more techy everyone the journey of where you're going, helping them explain understand the why help them understand what the potential might be. But in a way, I think it's, you know, that's just about the kind of the process that you've been placed and how much energy you put into different parts of the process, really. Lily Smith:  And you mentioned that it's really important when you're launching a new product inside a bigger org to sell the vision. How how did you go about creating your vision for Accardo? Zoom and selling that internally? Hannah Gibson:  Yeah, it's a great question. So I always came back to two things, which I think in products always really matter. The first is, what's the customer experience? And the second is kind of what's the what's the PnL impact? So what's what's it going to look like, from a longer term perspective, for profitability point of view, and on the customer experience side, we went and did a bunch of as you normally do, you know, cuz customer interviews and understood what's how customers were shopping today, and what they were using the different purchases for what their different habits were. So with a diary studies, we did interviews, all the rest of it, we looked at some data as well, which gave us an idea but couldn't tell us exactly what they might do in the future. And with that, we created as your as your Aussie often do a set of personas, which we could then go and talk to random people around the business and have had quite a strong sense of that as exactly what the party kind of segment was to go after. And then on the operational side, I was crystal clear on like, Okay, this is what we want the end game, p&l to look like. This is kind of what we got to believe to get there. And I think that was very helpful for people to be able to see the clarity around. This is where the customers were heading. And then also, this was from a operational point of view, what we've got to achieve to get there now, doesn't mean you got to get there on day one. But it means when people start to understand what we're going to build what we're going to do it, you're giving more context, and you're allowing people to make those trade offs themselves, allow them to prioritise the right things. I think that that helps a lot. Lily Smith:  And I find that really interesting because one of the things I think that's different about launching a product inside a bigger org versus working for a startup as a product person is the potential ownership of the kind of the p&l URL for that product launch. And this is where, you know, that kind of classic thing of the CEO of the product Sure, could actually be slightly more accurate. So I'm interested to know, like, within that product launch that you were doing, and kind of the PnL that you put together, like, how did you go about that part? Was that you with the finance team? Or were you kind of left to your own devices? And you have to come up with something that worked? Like? Hannah Gibson:  Good question. Good question. I think, definitely, I thought a lot about what was the right structure? And what's our organisational kind of model that we wanted to make this work really well? And I always thought about it as Who do you want dedicated to the kind of the product launch? And who do you want to kind of lean on who who actually is best to still sit within their organisational current departments that you kind of want to bring into the, into the virtual club of that of that product launch. And so we have those who are dedicated to to the products, which was, you know, the Tech Tech team, for example. And that was in part because we didn't want there to be caches around prioritisation of that, and then a lot of sense for them to be fully focused on this. And there's other areas where it actually you need kind of some, some quite specific expertise. And but you might not need it full time. So for finance, for example, yeah, you know, with the console neighbourhood support on the team, marketing, for example, actually, you know, we utilise the main marketing team have a lot of knowledge, but we had someone within my business unit who was focused on marketing just for that product. So we did this kind of blurring of who did what, who sat within which partner organisation, but most importantly, I thought about us all as one big virtual team. And definitely, as always, you know, the sum of the parts, you should be able to make greater than the whole by making sure that everyone's really focused on what we could achieve and the excitement of it all. But I think you're right, that in the sense that the fact that the broader p&l meant that we can actually really all focus on the right trade offs, and wherever you're going to, you know, think about the overall prioritisation I think everybody even if they weren't, you know, fully full time on this on this, we're excited about being part of it. If anything, I probably had more people who wants to be part of it, the less so that was? I guess. Randy Silver:  So that's an interesting one, I find there's a huge difference in the product managers I've met, who have a consulting background versus the ones who don't, and the way that they can build relationships around p&l and understand the difference between your this is what we're going to do this the theory of where we want to go versus the people who have been more operational in the past, or spend more time on that side and the reality. I'm curious, the people on your team who haven't come from a consulting background, how do you how do you train them up? How do you get them into the realities this and get them to be able to have those, those really deep relationships with people on the other side? Yeah, Hannah Gibson:  it's a great question, right? Because we're rolling out some kind of commercial training at the moment to help people understand better partners business models, our business model, kind of the sensitivities, I always talk a lot actually about, kind of sensitivity analysis, I think is a great thing to do as a product manager, figuring out what if like, what if this was a bit higher? What if this was a bit lower? Because the reality is product is, we actually know not very much about what's going to happen, right? And so all you can do is prepare for the different eventualities of what might happen and understand some the kind of the importance of that. So yeah, we are rolling out, you know, commercial training, but I also try and make sure that we are spending a lot of time with, you know, various parts of the business. And we, I think using the right metrics makes a big difference as well. So I think as ever, if you get the right metrics, and help people tie back their metric, to that line of the p&l, I think that makes a huge difference. And everyone can see what part they're playing. I also think it helps people work across different streams, different boundaries, because ultimately, you've got this kind of guiding light guiding metric that you can all go back to. So yeah, I think it's a super important conversation to have. But equally, I do think, as ever, a mix of product skill sets is super important. I've got a slightly more commercial background, but I haven't spent night shifts in a warehouse, you know, at various points in time. So I'm of my team ham, and they bring an awful lot to the table because they've done that thing as ever with products. You want a blend of different skill sets, different different competencies that you can bring to the table. Randy Silver:  So I worked at Amazon years ago, I did do the night shifts. They took us in the actual as an editor at the time, and they took us through some of the night shifts at Christmas time. So I know exactly what your topic was interested. I learned a tonne it was it was something I was glad to be doing for a week. And that was it's kind of thing rather than rather than as a full time job. But I'm curious when did the other berries I've seen is is cultural and it's just terminology at times. So product people like to say things like we're going to fail fast and iterate and get better and too many times the operational people over worked with her ever that and just heard the word fail, they didn't hear the intent behind it, which is we're going to learn fast not commit resources, we're not going to do a six month waterfall project when we can do a one week experiment kind of thing. But, you know, to two nations or two parts of the business separated by a common language sometimes. And I'm just curious if that's something you've seen, or if there's how you train people to build a better relationship by speaking the right language to? Hannah Gibson:  Yeah, it's a great question. I think, actually, because we've been, I'd frame it as almost like learning together across both the Operations and Technology for some time. That actually, you know, we do work very closely with the operations team. And I think they understand pretty well how we learned and we've got to where we have, because we have, you know, tried things run hard at things, we've always tried to think differently about how we can solve problems. I think that's ingrained in the culture generally. So I think I feel pretty lucky from that perspective, having said that, there is always a lovely healthy tension that will exist. And I think for the right reasons, what we try and do is talk about, you know, what the trade offs are, and help people on that journey and help people understand what the different options can be. And haven't found any specific challenges with language. I shouldn't say, I don't think we've come across that as a particular particular issue. But again, maybe I'm just lucky from from where we're at. And we've all been on that journey together. And I think that makes it a bit easier. Randy Silver:  Or you're just better at it than I am, which is fine. Lily Smith:  Okay, so with any sort of product launch or startup business, you're kind of you're aiming to have an MVP to start with. And sometimes this can be slightly controversial as to what your MVP is. So how did you get to a decision around what to launch with with the first piece? And did you because I imagine if you're launching a new product, in quite a big business, which is you've kind of already said, Everyone was super excited to get involved, is probably more a case of like holding people at the door and trying to do things in secret as much as possible. That's why we're doing anyway. Yeah, Hannah Gibson:  so I guess the MVP question is, is always a great one, right. And I always think about this as trying to break it down a little bit. And, again, just going back to being really clear about what you're trying to achieve. And for us in the grocery business, what's really important is customer retention. It's a bit more like a subscription model, I guess that a transactional model. And when you're launching a service, you need people to want to come back to it again. And again, like grocery shopping can be weekly, if not more frequent. And so for me, it was all about, again, as I've argued for management about prioritisation. And so being really clear about what's gonna matter. And for me, it was around that customer experience, I used to I couldn't phrase called a perfect execution, right, whatever happened, it happened to, to the customer, seem perfect, seemed like whatever we promised, we were going to deliver that perfect that would everything from how we built the product, how we thought about our marketing, so if we didn't deliver your product, within the first few weeks, we get a pretty generous, like, you know, refund for that, because we knew it mattered so much to customers. But behind the scenes, we were definitely you know, less optimal in terms of process or optimization of the processes, which, for Akali was something that we spend so many years optimising to suddenly launch something which wasn't there was obviously quite a different thing. And we had a path to get there. We knew that what looked like, but we were okay, on day one doing something different. And so, yeah, with MVP, it was definitely about thinking about what really, really mattered. We also within that kind of perfect execution, I definitely did scoped a couple of things. So we could be perfect at the things we kind of told our customers, we're going to be great if that made sense. So try not to overextend that experience. And again, that just goes back to understanding what you what you think really is going to matter. And then focus on Randy Silver:  that when you do that you're going to have an effect on this p&l projections that we talked about earlier. How do you sell that? How do you create the environment so that everyone else can just keep on doing the work, rather than it becoming, you know, a pile on environment? Hannah Gibson:  Yeah, it's a great question. I think there's, I think there's two things that I always I always consider in general one is making sure everyone's got a view of what the path is to get there. We've started over the last couple of years doing what we call like outcome based roadmaps. So actually, what does the past look like to get to the you know, the number you want? I think the more you can share that with, you know, stakeholders or finance I read needs to be that helps an awful lot. So yeah, we're never not gonna upgrade to that today. But this is where Gotta get to. And then secondly, going back to that point I mentioned earlier on the kind of sensitivity analysis, because ultimately, you know, we know we're not going to be right on everything actually interesting when we launch some of the numbers will be better than even I predicted. And I think we're pretty optimistic person. So that was great, because actually, you know, some of these challenges weren't there that I thought were going to be there. But don't get me wrong. Other ones were right. But that's okay. And I think if you can show people that, you know, depending on a couple different scenarios, these the options, we've got to plug those holes to make it better or to whatever, then I think that helps. I also think you kind of got to come back to A, we are doing this experiment, we're doing this to test willingness to learn. And I spent a lot of time getting overexcited about all the stuff we were going to learn once we were alive. And I think if you get people excited about that, then you can help them on the journey too. Lily Smith:  So they say if you launch a product, and you're not slightly embarrassed, then you've launched it too late. But it sounds like you were kind of like really careful about making sure that it was a really excellent customer experience. So do you think that Hannah Gibson:  could have launched earlier? Yeah, good question I actually didn't have, I'm gonna get out of this real quick. There weren't that many options. Because of this, when you're building physical infrastructure. Actually, there were some timeframes around that, that you can't necessarily change that with having said that, we could have gone live with something very manual, a lot earlier. And the problem is, if we'd done that we wouldn't have really tested one of the core hypotheses, which is people want to have a large range of products to choose from. It's not just about speed. It's about choice as well. And I think, again, you gotta be very clear what you're testing and what you believe the kind of view you're aiming to trial. And so yeah, it's a good question, whether we should we have got something different. Don't get me wrong, I would say I was embarrassed about things. I think because I say, I think there are many things I'd look at and say, Well, I want to do that better. I went round our second version of this site the other day, which has got a new improved shiny version, which is fantastic. And, yeah, that made me proud. So maybe, maybe I'll frame it in a slightly optimistic tone. And so I think I'm proud of very proud of so yeah, could we have cut, save a little bit? Maybe in some areas, but I actually think that we really proved that very fast. And, again, maybe actually reflects in your question, I think the context is always different. And the context in our world is you're paying for a physical environment, you're paying for operations, you're paying for supply chain costs, you're paying for food, that if you don't sell will, you'll go to waste. And so I think the context of that is quite different from doing a startup environment where you're getting a new website live. That's, you know, your I don't know, is some level of service. And so, again, context matters. I think given that, I think it was it was broadly right, but don't get me wrong, there'll be some things that I would change. Randy Silver:  So that's an interesting one, you're talking about food, which obviously, is a sunk cost. If you're depending on how you do, you're talking about physical infrastructure. And you're talking about a hypothesis of a wide range of things delivered quickly. That's not something you can do a huge amount of iteration on in the first bit. It's either on or it's off. So how do you launch it? Is that something you launch? You do with? Say, Okay, we're only going to do with to a limited range of area rate a certain number of orders per hour? Or how do you Yeah, exactly, Hannah Gibson:  that only so we did it within a particular radius, we built a new warehouse specifically for this, you've got a limited radius. Again, this goes back to why it mattered that this customer experiences vary. Because if you've got a limited radius, it's not that you can just start small and then gradually roll out to more and more customers. Because if you burn through that customer base, you can't suddenly go and get more right there in that radius, the households are there. And we've had a pretty aggressive target for household penetration. And so that's why it was so important for the long term, the business case to make sure that we were really, really upfront about why that mattered. So much Randy Silver:  of the attitude that you take towards this because I've seen presentations in the past from Ocado people where they they give great lessons, they give a great talk, but at the end, there's always a video of all the failures of the robots. And it's great because you're not hiding the fact that there was learning and experimentation along the way. But everyone loves to see robot fail videos. Hannah Gibson:  They did mostly work Randy. Randy Silver:  I'm not worried. I'm sure they do work just fine. And you wouldn't be showing us the videos of the failures if you didn't haven't already solved it. Lily Smith:  So what tips would you give to someone who worked in a kind of larger organisation and had just been given a project to say, right, we've got this idea or this concept or we want to solve this problem. We think it's a brand new product. It's yours run with It like, what do they need to be mindful of? And yeah, what are your what's your best advice for them? Hannah Gibson:  My top tips. My, I do think in that scenario, the idea of kind of think, like, you know, the CEO of a product, actually, it's not a phrase that I often use, because you've got to think very carefully about it when you use that phrase, because actually, for many people of colour, you're part of a bigger product is one bigger product that we that we sell. And so it doesn't always apply. And I think that's the case for many different product managers I speak to, but depending on the scale of what you've been asked to launch, think about it end to end, think about it as if it's a business and you're running that business. And then I think it's super important. If it's very new, I think this is true for startup as well as in a bigger organisation, to just continually help people understand the mindset shift. What do they know today? I'm repeat back to them what they think about how their business works today, and then tell them what's different. Why is this different? How everyone shift into that mindset. And I think that could help an awful lot. And then I'd also say, especially in large organisations very carefully about what the team is how you bring people together in the model I mentioned before, I guess it's pretty akin to a tribe model. It doesn't have to be that hard, like complicated, but just be very intentional about how you set things up. And then I also think you want people who are, you're the right people around you, not people who are advocates and people who love what you're doing to to help you bring everyone on that journey help you get everyone there. And we had certainly had some some awesome people on the team who were just advocates, but optimist about what we're building and how great it was, and that has ever, you know, get the right people and you are 80% of the way there. So I think he's ever worked with some great people and you're in a great place. Lily Smith:  Awesome. That sounds like very sound advice to be had. It's been so great talking to you. And I can't believe that conversation has just flown by so quickly. But thank you so much for joining us and imparting some of your experience and knowledge. Hannah Gibson:  Thank you very much for having me. Good steak. Lily Smith:  The product experience is the first and the best podcast from mine the product. Our hosts are me Lily Smith, and me Randy silver. Louron Pratt is our producer and Luke Smith is our editor. Randy Silver:  Our theme music is from Hamburg baseband power. That's P AU. Thanks to Arnie killer who curates both product tank and MTP engage in Hamburg and who also plays bass in the band for letting us use their music. You can connect with your local product community via product tank regular free meetups in over 200 cities worldwide. Lily Smith:  If there's not one near you, maybe you should think about starting one. To find out more go to mind the product.com forward slash product tank