Back in episode 121 I had the pleasure of talking with Richard Banfield, one of three authors of the new book Product Leadership. Then, in episode 125 I spoke with Martin Eriksson, who also is a co-author of the book. So, it seemed only proper that I make this a true trifecta by interviewing the third co-author, which is Nate Walkingshaw. I was especially eager to do this after Richard told me that Nate is the smartest product person he knows. Nate has some firm opinions on product teams and how to structure teams to work well. You may have seen his thought-provoking post on Mind the Product titled, “Agile Died While You Were Doing Your Standup.” In our discussion, we touch on concepts from that post but dive deeper into team structures and needs for modern product teams.
Nate has started successful companies in the medical and fitness markets and has had many product experiences. Later he became the Chief Product Officer for Pluralsight, the largest providers of online technology learning, where he built a user-centered product team. In 2016 his role expanded to Chief Experience Officer where he oversees Development, Content, and Product Marketing.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some concepts discussed:
- Nate’s new book, Product Leadership, is now available. It is the first book focused on product leadership for product managers.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) has forced teams to change. The feedback loop between users and developers is now “end-of-the-day” – hours, not days.
- Siloed teams won’t work today – product teams must be fully integrated.
- Corporate strategy and technology strategy must be aligned.
- The three key elements for teams that increase velocity are:
- Vision – is there a clear vision for each product team and are they connected to the vision?
- Strategy – do team members know the product strategy and how their work fits into the strategy of the team and the organization?
- Autonomy – do team members have the freedom to explore the execution of the strategy for the team?
- Velocity also increases when team members experience first-hand how customers respond to using the product and to changes when they are made. Web collaboration tools are used with customers for real-time interactions.
- Compensate teams, not individuals, for meeting objectives.
- New Book – Product Leadership: How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams
- Pluralsite—technology training and where Nate is Chief Experience Officer
“In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.” ― Eric Hoffer
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.