The ProductTank San Francisco chapter recently hosted their most-awaited event of the year. The former co-founders of Mind the Product, Janna Bastow and James Mayes joined the community to deliver talks on redefining traditional roadmapping and building support for product professionals. Their talks shed light on the evolving landscape of product management and the strategies needed to thrive in this dynamic field.
Janna Bastow: Reshaping roadmaps
Janna Bastow’s talk challenged the status quo of traditional roadmapping, which often falls short in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing environment. She highlighted some key issues with conventional roadmaps, such as prioritizing tasks based on deadlines, which can lead to a blame culture and hinder product development.
Challenging traditional roadmapping
Janna Bastow’s presentation questioned the conventional approach to roadmapping, which often falls short in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing environment. She pinpointed key issues associated with conventional roadmaps, particularly the practice of prioritizing tasks based on deadlines, which can foster a blame culture and hinder product development.
Embracing lean roadmapping
Janna strongly advocated for Lean Roadmapping, a more adaptable approach centered on building, measuring, and learning. Rather than treating the roadmap as a static plan, it becomes a dynamic tool for iterating on the product strategy. This approach enables product teams to avoid investing in the wrong features and continuously adapt to changing circumstances.
The concept of roadmap bankruptcy
Janna introduced the groundbreaking concept of “Roadmap bankruptcy,” which involves discarding existing roadmaps and starting fresh with ongoing feedback from stakeholders. This approach treats product development as an uncharted journey where the destination may shift as new insights emerge.
Leveraging OKRs as a compass
She also emphasized the importance of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) as a guiding compass for the product team. These objectives serve to align the team’s goals and strategies. Janna proposed using Lean Roadmaps to connect initiatives with these objectives, prioritizing problem-solving over adhering to rigid delivery dates. Shifting the focus from timelines to outcomes allows product managers to demonstrate their commitment to reducing technical debt and minimizing delays.
Distinguishing hard and soft launches
In her engaging presentation, Janna encouraged product managers to differentiate between hard launches and soft launches. She stressed that successful product development is not solely about adhering to predefined schedules, and she introduced the Kano model, which helps determine where to allocate resources for maximum customer satisfaction.
AI as a supportive coach
Concluding her talk, Janna encouraged product managers to perceive AI as a coach rather than a replacement. Rather than being the sole repository of answers, their role is to streamline daily workloads, allowing them to focus on more high-value tasks.
James Mayes: Building support for product professionals
James Mayes took the stage to tackle the demanding and often overlooked role of building support for product professionals, which he described as both tedious and challenging. In his presentation, he delved into the evolution of agile methodologies over the past two decades and the wide array of tools available to product managers.
Adapting to the rapidly changing landscape
Acknowledging the relentless pace of change, James observed that customers have undergone more transformation in the past few years than they did over the preceding two decades. In this context, he contended that traditional mentorship might not be the most effective solution and encouraged product managers to explore unconventional avenues of support.
“Fish where the fish are” approach
James offered a pivotal piece of advice: “Fish where the fish are.” Essentially, product managers should seek assistance from those genuinely interested in supporting them, rather than attempting to persuade hesitant mentors. He also championed the idea of stepping outside the product management sphere by participating in events outside their immediate field. By broadening their horizons and absorbing diverse perspectives, product managers can better navigate the ever-changing professional landscape.
The power of storytelling
James placed a significant emphasis on storytelling in his talk, highlighting its crucial role in a product manager’s responsibilities. He stressed that effective storytelling is a fundamental component of building support and driving product success. He urged product managers to share their experiences and insights with others, fostering a culture of learning and growth.
Building a personal advisory board
In essence, James recommended the creation of a personal advisory board – a network of trusted advisors who can offer guidance and support throughout a product manager’s journey. This diverse group can provide valuable perspectives and help product managers overcome challenges while seizing new opportunities.
In an era marked by continuous change and the evolution of product management practices, the talks by Janna Bastow and James Mayes have imparted valuable insights that reshape our approach to roadmaps and underscore the significance of support and community in this dynamic field. These innovative ideas are certain to inspire and guide product managers as they navigate the intricate realm of product development.