In this new Age of Product, the way that we approach product management and product operations must change, and so must our product teams. Product excellence is measurable and can be achieved through various practices. So, how do we ensure product excellence? This week, Product Talk host and Techstars VP of Network, Bhavna Kumar, interviews Contentsquare VP of Product Excellence Danny Carvajal who shares how a product excellence team can help drive overall success.

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On Pillar One of Product Excellence: Strategic Operations 

Pillar one is all about organizing, aligning, and calibrating OKRs. This pillar is designed to align product operations at an organization level, but also at the different products and product team levels. A clear vision helps ensure you deliver an excellent product. This pillar emphasizes the importance of streamlining your objectives and goals across the entire organization, having clarity on vision and strategy, and monitoring the success of these goals and objectives through different metrics. Here are a few questions to pose to your teams when strategizing: 

“How do you cascade goals and objectives across your organization on a quarterly or annual basis?”

“How do those goals relate to the goals of the different functions and teams that we have across the organization? Make sure from top-down and bottoms up alignment, that exercise is happening.”

“How do you monitor success? How do you monitor the progress across those goals? In the organization’s North Star metrics, how do you maintain visibility on all of those things?”

“What are the mission and the vision of the team? And what are the different strategies? How are we going to execute those missions and visions?”

On Pillar Two: Providing Your Product Teams with Resources 

Pillar two is all about providing your product teams with the resources that they will need to grow and succeed. This pillar focuses on learning and developing. A team that is always learning is a team that has unlimited potential. The goal of this pillar is to make sure that you set your various product teams up for success. Having onboarding programs, standard operations procedures, and various resources can help facilitate product operations. Finding the right way to work for your company, and giving your teams the resources they need is vital to product excellence. Focus on these principles when developing your resources: 

“A lot of the focus here is around learning development programs, making sure we have onboarding programs and practices available to help scale the organization, provide them with the tools and that they need to grow … and career tracks, defining them, defining the competencies.”

“The core of [pillar two] is finding the right ways to work, organizing those ways, organizing those practices, those tools, and then lots of facilitation and coaching that go with it.”

“So, how do we enable the actual team members themselves and provide them the resources they need to grow and succeed?”

On Pillar Three: Product Management Practices

Pillar three is all about the methods and practices that your company uses to ensure product excellence. Or as Danny likes to say, it’s about the playbooks. These are the constant practices and processes that your company uses to increase revenue. Having a playbook is extremely important, but knowing when to deviate and try something new is just as important. Deviating from the status quo, while staying within margins, can lead to new heights. There would be no innovation if we always did everything the exact same way. This is what Danny had to say about balancing playbooks with innovation: 

“This is about defining and curating the processes and the practices that support our scale.”

“It’s easy to look to processes to try to drive scale for a company, but don’t let process drive your company, because they will drive it into the ground.” 

“Certainly, there’s a minimal amount of consistency that we want the teams to adopt. But we want to continue fostering innovation and new ways of thinking and hiring new people from the outside who have done it differently.”

“We want to be open to that, to entertain that. We want to open our eyes to those things because the second you don’t, innovation dies and people are not motivated. And nobody wants to work in that environment.”

On Pillar Four: Using Tools to Ensure Product Excellence

Pillar Four is all about providing your product teams with the tools they need to be successful. Having roadmaps, product analysis tools, and other aids help the product team deliver excellent products to their customers. This pillar is about knowing where your product teams might run into problems and creating solutions for them that allow them to do their best work. This pillar teaches us that a team with the right tools is a team with limitless potential. And a team with limitless potential is one that can ensure excellence. Try using these tools with your product teams: 

“Roadmapping tools and product analysis, tools, and those types of things. Knowing the types of things that help the product team deliver products to customers successfully.”

“Thinking about how we can help unblock, remove, and mitigate risks. How we can remove issues and roadblocks for the teams. Give them the best tools to do their best work.”

“In any industry, whether it’s for-profit and business for a product team, or even a nonprofit, potential is limitless if the team is given the right environment with the right tools and the right practices to succeed.” 

“This focuses on the kind of product tech stack that supports our product teams, and then supports product excellence.”

About the speaker
Danny Carvajal Contentsquare, VP of Product Excellence Member

Danny Carvajal is the VP of Product Excellence at Contentsquare. He is a seasoned product development team coach and organizational leader with extensive experience building high-performing cross-functional product teams.

About the host
Bhavna Kumar Techstars, Vice President
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