Chief Product Officers face many challenges while managing both team motivation and product innovation, especially with pandemic-related workplace changes. There also are constant priority interruptions that can affect the cadence of product innovation. How does a CPO facilitate the right culture to keep up the innovative pace? Nubank CPO and Global CPO 20 winner Jag Duggal shares insights into creating rhythm, hiring a great team, and maintaining innovation.
On Creating Rhythm for Teams
The first thing Jag shared with our CPO Renée Niemi was how to create a rhythm or pace for teams to help with the go-go-go mentality and burnout, in order to leave room for product innovation.
“The biggest thing I try to do for myself and for my teams is to give some amount of predictability. One of my favorite words is cadence or rhythm. Athletes always talk about being in the zone, there’s a rhythm, there’s a cadence, the game actually feels like it slows down.”
“One of the things you often see in startups or overgrown startups, like Google or Facebook, is that leadership often isn’t very intentional about creating rhythm and cadence. A topic comes up, and you decide as a leadership team that you really want to fit it in here and learn more about it.”
“Be as careful as you can about designing the rhythms for updates. They need to be predictable, known well ahead of time, and teams very rarely have to drop everything to give updates. With that is the appropriate level of overhead and not more than that.”
“That’s incredibly important, especially and even more so when the rest of the world is entirely unpredictable. Your business outside may be entirely unpredictable; your life outside may be entirely unpredictable. The more you can make the bits that you can control better for yourself, for your team, for the company, the better.”
On How to Facilitate Culture to Keep Innovation Going
After describing how to set up a cadence for our team, Renée and Jag discuss how to facilitate the culture to keep that innovative pace going. Jag gives a few ways to approach this, including his North Star.
“One is the concept of giving team ownership. You can give a team full ownership if you can give them clarity on who their customer is, who they’re trying to innovate on behalf of, and give them a scorecard. What’s the metric that would define winning? People like to win. If they have clarity on what target they’re aiming for, whose lives they’re looking to make better, and then give them a way to keep score, they can do a lot of magic.”
“There are a couple of other concepts that sort of layer underneath that first one. First, there’s a lot of noise in any system, particularly one that’s moving fast.”
“Incrementally better isn’t good enough. You can have an MVP, and we can talk about that concept, that’s for sure. But in terms of what you’re aiming for, you should be able to articulate what is fundamentally different about your product on behalf of a particular segment of customers.”
“If you can do that if you can bring those mindsets, I think you have a good foundation for innovation. Otherwise, the noise, the velocity, the chaos of just operating in the world when the day-to-day usually overwhelms.”
This content is produced in partnership with Mighty Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, turning ideas with traction into products that win.Mighty Capital
On Measuring Winning for Innovation
Lastly, when you are successful, you want to know how successful you are, right? Measuring and metrics can encourage and motivate teams, and also align and satisfy stakeholders. Jag gives us some ideas of metrics for innovation.
“First and foremost measure customer love. If there isn’t customer love, then everything else is a waste of time. I’ve loved for 20 years the NPS metric. What do customers say about the product and, more importantly, what do they tell their friends? A framework like NPS is super helpful.”
“Next is what do they do aka usage intensity. I worked at a social network, so that’s kind of the currency of the realm, not just how many users you have but how many are active monthly, how many are active weekly, how many are active daily. It’s one of the great success stories of Nubank because we’ve been able to move not just the number of customers but the intensity of their usage up into the right consistently over the last 18 months or so.”
“The last bucket of metrics that I spend a lot of time looking at is, once you have established that there’s product-market fit, it’s growth metrics: how many customers, how much revenue, whatever the currency that you’re measuring is. Is it going up into the right and at what rate? It’s got to become something that is tracked regularly by everyone on the team. If you have a dashboard and it’s set up with a key metric, not just for where things need to be in six months, but where new things need to be today, you unleash the creativity of the entire team, whether it’s 10 people or 1,000 people. That’s incredibly powerful.”
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