PRODUCTHEAD: Navigating change

PRODUCTHEAD: Navigating change

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

hail to the product #

every PRODUCTHEAD edition is online for you to refer back to


tl;dr

Navigating change is hard because we don’t want to be seen as villains

Don’t simply cut-and-paste another company’s organisational model without understanding the context

Consider how the members of your team will understand the change, embrace it, and work through it


hello

Last year I attended a panel discussion featuring Randeep Sidhu. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he was responsible for fixing the UK’s Test and Trace app, which at the time was a bit of a political football, though it did save lives*.

To the amusement of the audience, he introduced the idea that product managers are actually like villains. Not the two-dimensional, take-over-the-world kind that punch down, but the well-written kind who are trying to effect a change (even if their methods are dubious). If you look at the heroes, they’re often reacting to preserve the status quo, to inhibit change.

To cause change to happen, said Randeep, sometimes you need to accept that you’re going to be seen as the bad guy. Fast forward a few months to the closing keynote of Mind The Product’s 2023 London conference, and Randeep expands on this idea in his talk I’ve included for you this week.

Continuing the theme of change, Rich Mironov discusses approaches to deal with major organisational changes: when a company pivots from project-based client work to a product business, and how to transition from a narrow product owner role to an end-to-end product manager.

Mind The Product has also published a short collection of case studies and advice for product leaders managing change in their organisations. It includes contributions from five seasoned product leaders: Ben Foster, Navya Rehani Gupta, Dave Wascha, Inês Liberato and Kate Leto. They cover topics such as how to handle company pivots and investment uncertainty.

Speak to you soon,

Jock

* 2023 research published by Nature Communications estimated that the NHS Test and Trace app likely prevented between 4,600 and 13,000 COVID-related deaths.



what to think about this week

Heroes and villains in the product world

In the closing keynote at #mtpcon London 2023, Randeep Sidhu talks about the framing of heroes and villains for the product world and why creating an impact is so hard.

Randeep’s career to date has primarily been in healthcare and he says a doctor once took him aside and told him “a product you build will kill someone. A decision you make will kill someone. What can you do to make sure your conscience is clear when that happens?”.

Why saving the world is hard

[Randeep Sidhu / Mind The Product]



Reorganizing product teams

At workshops for product leaders, we often discuss different approaches to implementing major organizational changes within product management teams and adjacent groups (e.g. Engineering). Not surprisingly, the general answer is “it depends” on lots of factors. But worth recapping some of the choices and their implications.

One size does not fit all

[Rich Mironov / Mironov Consulting]

Leading product teams through change

Successfully navigating change as a product leader demands strong strategic and leadership abilities. Additionally, product leaders have recently grappled with the effects of COVID-19, the complexities of inflation, and the swiftly changing landscape of artificial intelligence.

Here, we explore the stories of five product leaders who have effectively navigated change in their current and past positions.

Learn from lived experience

[Mind The Product]

recent posts

How do I make my product roadmap a better communication tool?

Hi Jock,

My product roadmap is not getting the right information across to other people in my company. In particular, my customer success and marketing teams are struggling to plan their work for upcoming product releases. I’m also not sure how I can show my roadmap’s relationship to the half-yearly OKRs we set. How can I improve it?

Your product roadmap is a communication tool

[I Manage Products]

How can I keep track of all these product metrics?

Hi Jock,

Do you have any advice on productivity tools for tracking product metrics? I’m seeking guidance on streamlining feedback and metrics management. Juggling continuous discovery insights, team feedback, and metric tracking has become increasingly overwhelming.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start

[I Manage Products]

Getting your first job as a product manager

Job adverts present a chicken-and-egg problem: they all need you to have product management experience to secure a job, but you don’t yet have a product management job to gain that experience.

Don’t let this discourage you!

Practical tips for breaking into a career in product management

[I Manage Products]

can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

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Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from wireless earpods falling into paint tins.


Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a freelance head of product, product management coach and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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