Does everybody in your organization have an owner’s mindset?

Here comes episode 14 in the CPO Rising Series. It features Vonage CPO Savinay Berry speaking with Products That Count CPO Renée Niemi. Savinay and Renée touch on several key topics, all of them revolving around the owner’s mindset. First, Savinay gives his list of key features he looks for in product leaders. One of those is the owner’s mindset, which he explains in detail. Ultimately, he believes that instilling new hires with this mindset can give your company a significant boost over the competition.

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On the key qualities of product leaders

Savinay has a set of criteria he looks for in product leaders. It begins with creativity.

“How creative are people in doing things that need to get done? Despite any constraints on resourcing, despite constraints on funding. You need to figure out how to get stuff done, despite having all of those constraints in front of you. 

“Number two is perseverance. Which is how do you keep just driving through the walls, just literally pushing through the walls? Never give up? Don’t take no for an answer, have the spirit and resolve of finding an answer in a very creative way. 

“And then related to that, number three is attitude, which is having a positive attitude while doing all of these things. You could be the most creative person out there. But if you’re, you know, being abrasive, and if you’re rubbing people the wrong way, then that doesn’t go well for too long.

“And then having the right rigor and sweating the details. Really going into the spec, going into writing your own MVP docs… And if you’re a senior leader, in any of those functions, I think having the clarity of thought is really important. People should come to you not because of your title. People should come to you because you’re one of those people who can help solve issues and situations which are very tricky, be able to look at all the signal from the noise that’s out there and drive a clear direction from all the chaos. So clarity of thought is really important.

“Designing the org is number two on that list, how do you clearly design an org which supports the strategy, and you put the right people in the right places with the right skill sets. And then finally is the owner’s mindset.”

On the owner’s mindset

Savinay speaks a lot about what he calls the owner’s mindset. In brief, this means that in a truly aligned organization, everyone on the team takes ownership of problems.

“The owner’s mindset is very simple. It’s basically saying that you’re not an employee of the company. Imagine if you are actually the owner of that company. You’re not just the owner of the function that you’re doing. But you’re the owner of the company. Imagine that the money that you’re putting behind it, the budgets that you’re approving, is literally your own money. And truly internalize that. Don’t just look at it at a high level, but truly internalize that. 

“If it’s your own money, and if it’s your own company, what kind of decisions would you make on a regular basis? Would you, for example, look at a problem that sits outside of product and engineering, maybe in marketing. Maybe the marketing campaigns are not going as well as they should. Maybe the training material for the sales teams is not as good as it should be. Or something else. 

“Would you, at that point, just point out the problem and say, hey, it’s somebody else’s problem, and they’ve got to fix it? Or would you put on this owner’s mindset and say, here’s a problem, but you know what, I’m going to help fix it myself. And I’m going to work across the teams and make sure that I can drive resolution on that problem. 

“So it’s really that bias to action, driving systematic change. I believe that if every single person in a company can have that owner’s mindset, any company, any enterprise can punch way above their weight, in terms of what they can accomplish and the value they can provide to the end users.”

On hiring as a competitive advantage

Companies who excel at hiring will win in the marketplace. It’s that simple.

“Hiring the right people at scale, in 2022, is going to be a competitive advantage. Because if you hire them, and train them properly, they’ll be able to have the owner’s mindset. They’ll be able to drive a lot of the change that you’re looking to accomplish in the market. 

“Most people look for new opportunities, because they are getting paid a little higher. But at the end of the day, they will look for something which is mission driven, or there’s a purpose out there. And they can be part of something bigger than themselves and their own jobs. If you can create the right vision and mission for them, of what your company is doing, how it’s going to make a difference in the world, I think that will also vet the right kind of candidates. And frankly, attract more candidates as well. 

“And then finally, of course, you have to be competitive with them. You have to keep engaged with them. I personally reach out to a lot of the people who are at the very end of the hiring process. And then also after the hiring process, after they’ve accepted the offers. So we make sure that they’re keeping engaged. And then have the joy and a sense of excitement and optimism which is going to be extremely valuable for them to hit the ground running. 

“It’s a new world out there. And we’re still learning. But every single Friday, I have a one hour interview with my TA team to focus on talent and the pipeline and the challenges. So it’s a huge focus for me. And if I have the focus, I know the teams will have the focus as well.”

About the speaker
Savinay Berry Vonage, CPO Member
About the host
Renee Niemi Products That Count, CPO
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