ProductCon 2020

The future of product

  • Top product manager skills: AI, data, UX, leadership, communication, creativity
  • Shifting the focus to things that are important but not urgent
  • Book recommendation – the signals are talking
  • Trend monitoring – sustained manifestations of change
  • “Millennials see some long term commitments as risk for future hardship and disappointment”
  • Mobile payments are increasing 300% year on year

Knowing the competition

  • “Nokia dismissed the iPhone when it came out, but they weren’t competing with a handset, they were competing with a brand”
  • WhatsApp overtook Skype by removing key friction points, e.g. contact finding based on people’s device directories rather than the need to know someone’s username and have a request accepted
  • Skype weren’t aware enough that they were competing in the communication space rather than the desktop sharing space
  • “Competition isn’t always what you think it is”
  • “Startups don’t compete against each other, they compete against apathy”
  • It took Blockbuster six years to recognise Netflix as a competitor, they believed they were offering something different
  • To compete with AmazonPrime, Netflix paid $2m upfront for House of Cards because they watched trend data in order to confidently predict that the show would put them ahead
  • Read Hastings: “Think of a night you didn’t watch Netflix. We compete with drinking a bottle of wine”
  • “If you focus on the product, you’ll get more product, don’t make it a race to the bottom”

Creating balanced teams

  • Product, design and engineering work together, achieving maturity by valuing and amplifying each other’s value
  • Psychological safety is fundamental to highly functional teams
  • Create team norms, hold each other accountable, ceremony, facilitation, checkins and health checks, collaboration, communication, shared learning, adjusting to feedback
  • Understand the customer value and work together towards it
  • People feel equally responsible and empowered for the team’s outcomes
  • Upskilling and knowledge sharing
  • Every balanced team will be different, because it reflects the talents and preferences of its members
  • Run regular customer empathy experiments

Product analytics

  • Having the right tools doesn’t mean you’re a data-driven team
  • Discipline and mindset
  • Make hypotheses not decisions
  • “You can always find a narrative by which something can be viewed as successful”
  • Duolingo: “Make incremental change with a diverse portfolio of big bets and small surefire bets”

Creating and managing best in class products

  • When there’s a gap in knowledge we fill it with assumptions
  • “If we don’t understand why we’re building something, we’re going to build the wrong thing”
  • A single person can’t lift the team alone, collaboration and shared leadership is key

Product adoption by Spotify

  • 248m monthly active users
  • Prioritising scale within the company
  • Building trust internally and externally
  • “Product managers are hired to add value to the engineering teams”
  • Within your team, find the gap they need to be filled and fill it
  • Meet everyone, be clear, build together, test together, communicate, learn
  • Find the customer evidence to prove or disprove your assumptions
  • What shall we do next, are we working on the most important items for the company?
  • What is the cost of not doing it?
  • Advocate for autonomy and put systems in place to align with company direction
  • Focus on impact not delivery, including when pitching goals to teams
  • Behave and work as one team
  • Optimise your product for the most common use case, but make it usable for the least common

User retention by MagicLab

  • Owners of Badoo, Chappy and Bumble
  • App dating is the number one way people meet their partners in the US
  • Aim to get every user a match in 24 hours
  • They divide churn into good (found a partner) and bad (gave up and went to a competitor)
  • Good churn was a surprisingly hard sell to senior management
  • They had to work hard at building understanding of the core company values and mission
  • “True love isn’t always forever, we also want to welcome back returning good churn customers”

Fireside chat by Miro

  • “We want to help users structure their thinking and make their work visible”