This iteration of our Speaker Series hands the zoom to a product leader who unabashedly states that he is “obsessed with what makes a good product, and everything that goes into building a good product”. Vish Srivastava, former Product Lead at BCG Digital Ventures, invites a dialogue on how to align around positive values, use them as guardrails in the decision-making process, and embed them into your product.
Watch the entire session right here on Products That Count, then swing over to our events page to lock in your seat at more upcoming events for product leaders.
On accountability and execution
Every time a decision is made, the inverse of that decision plays into the equation. Vish sets up his presentation by speaking on the day-to-day decision-making process that goes into product management and how a PM creates positive value on a company and product.
“In order to decide what to build, you’re inherently making the statement of what not to build.”
“Everyone has a different worldview and has a different opinion of what to build. Ultimately, the product team is accountable for taking all of those signals and deciding what will generate the most value for our users and for the company.”
“The average PM doesn’t write code, create product designs, or create marketing assets. We generate decisions. We create alignment around what should be on the roadmap, and then execute against it, all going in one direction”
On narrow metrics and positive values
It’s tempting to make decisions solely based on the numbers and sometimes it can even be the best choice. However, it’s important to keep in mind the intent of an optimization, and to remember that each of those decisions makes a real impact on the user.
“When we obsess around narrow metrics, like activity for example, there’s a lot that’s embedded within that definition that gets obfuscated day to day. It raises questions; what are we really optimizing for? Are you optimizing for someone opening your app, or are we optimizing for doing good, for real positive value for users.”
“Having someone click through each one of the steps in an onboarding funnel doesn’t really tell you about long term value. You don’t really know if this user is going to stay engaged and if you’re going to retain them as soon as they get through the onboarding hurdle. So optimizing just for that sort of conversion can really hide a lot about the real value, and the values that you have as a company.”
On the business impact of value systems
Vish dives into the meat of his topic by presenting various examples of misguided and harmful UX decisions that lead back to product and design teams. The examples he shares clearly demonstrate the real-world impact that comes from product decisions and why having positive values matters for a company.
“There are real business implications and real business impacts from the decisions that you make, either explicitly or implicitly, about what your value system is.”
“As product leaders, we care about tactical design decisions within products, but we care even more about business outcomes. Dark patterns are the idea of making UX decisions that really aren’t clear to the user and that take away their agency. There is no shortage of headlines that can demonstrate the harm that can be caused by product teams and companies that don’t consider values and ethical principles in their decision making.”
“I think PMs, by our very nature, tend to be pragmatic to our core and maybe pragmatic to a fault. The idea of ethics and values are really messy concepts, and there isn’t necessarily a measurable way of grappling with those issues. Certainly, there isn’t a clear ROI for making decisions on what to build today and the impact that we would see in our metrics based on these issues.”
About the speaker
Vish is a product leader obsessed with building products to make the world a better place. He works at Evidation Health, with the mission to empower everyone to participate in better health outcomes. Prior to this, he led product teams at BCG Digital Ventures in a variety of spaces, including philanthropy, voter protection, fintech for the underbanked, and chronic disease management. Vish is an instructor at General Assembly and has degrees from Michigan and Harvard.