In this ProductTank London talk, Senior Director at ThetaRay, Shaun Smith-Taylor, provides insights into how you can grow a product-led company by having the right culture. He explains the history of becoming product-led, the characteristics and culture of a product-led company, and the importance of the CEO and company structure to success.
Watch the video to see his talk in full or read on for an overview of his key points:
- Where have we come from?
- Don Draper’s guide to being product-led
- Product-led characteristics and culture
Where have we come from?
In the early days of product management, many companies were marketing-led. In this situation, the customers were the ones driving decisions. Procter & Gamble was an example of such a marketing-led organization, focused on brand management and customer-centricity.
Eventually, businesses became sales-led. The primary goal was to bring value to the market. However, this was a long process where revenue was king and a focus on the customer journey with a go-to-market strategy at the end.
Next came project-led companies. For these companies, culture was not aligned to market-fit, vision, and strategy. In this scenario, the customer dictates 100% of what the company does. However, it’s hard to scale and prioritize. Also, products in these companies are seen as a supporting function, which ultimately doesn’t deliver the required value to the customer.
Don Draper on product-led
Shaun references Mad Men character, Don Draper, to provide some key traits relevant to being product-led. Like Don Draper, he says, they must have:
- a desire to be a market leader
- the ability to move fast
- an ambitious management team
- the ability to apply blue-sky thinking
Product led characteristics and culture
Shaun then touches on some of the key characteristics of a product-led company and the cultural values they employ.
A product-led company understands its market fit and is customer-centric. It focuses on product value and has alignment from the C-level right down on a shared vision as well as excellent speed to market and a low acquisition cost.
A good product-led organization and the product manager in such an organization utilizes a blue ocean mindset and can think outside of the box. They are customer-centric; they understand the value the product brings to the market, take full ownership of the product line, act fast and challenge the usual way of doing things. For more on this, check out this article by Federico Iglesias on Building extraordinary product teams.
To achieve all of this, your CEO and management team must be product people. They need to own the product roadmap, be innovative and visionary, empower and structure a team to move fast, and recruit a core executive team of product people.
The key takeaways from this talk are the questions that you need to ask to determine if your company is product-led. Some of these include:
- Are the company values at the heart of your product strategy?
- Is there a 360 feedback loop within the product lifecycle?
- Do you act fast and not afraid to fail?
- Does your management team understand and support product?
If the answer to most of these questions is no, then you are not product-led.
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