Bob Vickers, Head of Product
As a product person, it’s important to have a clear approach delivering product.
This informs your product leadership style, from how you breakdown stories to how you communicate with stakeholders.
Being able to articulate an approach allows you to share it with your team and stakeholders. Your approach should inform everything you do, including prioritising decisions. And having a personal, well-defined approach to product management also makes recruiting, hiring and applying for roles much easier. It shows that you have thought about product management and how you are adding value to a business and for your customers.
In this short blog, I’m going to share my own particular product approach — not to say it’s the only approach, but it’s how I currently view the role of a Product Manager.
My approach: deliver value quickly
My approach as a PM is to deliver value quickly. It’s a very simple and easy to understand approach and to me it means I am doing my job.
I’ve used this approach as a Head of Product and as a PM working with a scrum team. And I’d argue that it can be used by any person working in any function across any business.
So here’s why I think these three words are so important.
In an ideal scenario, every slice of functionality produced by my team should reach customers; it’s the only way to get feedback and learn what we should do next. And, for this to happen, we need to continuously break down our work into small deliverable chunks. This means we should continue doing discovery work but, until we turn this discovery insight into delivery for customers, they do not get any benefit. Additionally, as a product leader, investing time with your team in technical enablers like automation testing and continuous delivery will deliver good quality code quickly.
Everything we deliver should have value attached. Ultimately, value can be mapped to two broad categories of benefit:
- Revenue generation or protection
- Cost reduction or avoidance
However, regardless of the benefit we aim to deliver, it’s important to remember the key is not that everything we do needs to be a success, but that we need to learn from quick iterations to improve the chances of succeeding next time. Also, activities like impact mapping keep us aligned to customer value and business goals so that before we even breakdown the work we are confident we are solving the right problem.
If it takes us too long to deliver, then our chances of failure increase exponentially. It means we do not get feedback, we do not learn, we do not improve. This is why activities like story breakdown are so valuable; the ability to deliver the high-value elements of a feature in small increments enables continuous learning. I always ask the team, How can a feature we are working on be delivered more quickly? How can we re-order the work to learn what we need first? How can we reduce our cycle time? This challenges us to find a shorter way to production.
It has taken me time to be able to articulate this simple approach to product. I’ve come to it through the experience of doing things well and doing things not so well. It’s been created by listening to others and seeing how they approach different challenges. It’s taken getting feedback from others and hearing from them what is most important to being an effective PM. It’s also just one part of a job that, among other things, includes having a clear vision for your product area.
I’d also argue that ‘deliver value quickly’ is what agile really means, not the ceremonies or terminology that goes into it. And at LendInvest, I’m lucky to have peers and colleagues who believe the same.
I’d encourage all PMs to work out what their approach is. There are many different tools, techniques and approaches to do the above. If your results mean you ‘deliver value quickly’, then you have a great chance of being a great Product Manager and making your customers happy.