When setting priorities, are you properly sizing the opportunity?
In the ninth episode in the 2022 Product Awards series, we learn that with prioritization, sizing is everything. Ubiety Technologies Chief Product Officer Nacho Andrade sits down with Hootsuite SVP of Product Darren Guarnaccia. They discuss the best way to go about choosing the best opportunities. They also talk about why curiosity and empathy are two key traits for PMs. Finally, Darren sheds light on how he fosters curiosity in his PMs.
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On sizing the opportunity
A major problem in product management is prioritization. In other words, with so many problems to solve, which one do you try to solve? And above all, which problems are worth pursuing?
Darren says, “Sizing is everything. What’s the opportunity size? We often start with an inception process. It really kind of sizes the opportunity, depending on how big this thing is. If it’s feature level, and we want to build it, then we need to have a point of view about what is the impact. Is this going to help drive better trials, paid conversion, or win rates? Or is this going to save us on churn? If it’s bigger than that, then what’s the market space? And the opportunity?
“We use tools like RICE to kind of prioritize feature level things. What I like about RICE is simply that it makes you think about the reach and the impact. And then how confident you are in that data. And then you divide it by effort. So it’s helpful, because it really helps you prioritizing. But bigger than that, like when they get to the, to the epic, you know, multi epic level. Now, you need to really start to really think business cases. And what’s the opportunity, size, and space? And what your competitor is doing.”
On what makes a great product manager
A great PM needs a wide skill set, from tech to business. But a great PM definitely needs to be in tune with the customer. Consequently, for Darren what makes a great PM comes down to two things.
“Curiosity and empathy. The best quote I’ve seen is that as a product person, you’re the spokesperson for that user, that customer. You’re living in their boots, and you really understand their problems. Both the functional job to be done and the emotional job to be done. What they’re really trying to achieve, and you really understand them.
“The other thing I really look for is commercial mentality. Because it’s not just about shipping a feature. It’s about how you monetize that feature, and how you’re going to grow that business. We talk a lot about the product manager as the CEO of their business or the GM. But it really is a commercial thinking. How am I going to grow this business? How am I going to monetize this thing?
“I love the book, Monetizing Innovation, because it really talks about understanding willingness to pay before you write a line of code. And that’s brilliant. Because we really should be understanding how customers are going to value this feature, this product, before we even build it. So we understand how best to build it.”
On helping to foster curiosity as a product leader
To wrap up, Nacho asked Darren about how he fosters curiosity in his PMs. After all, if curiosity is a key PM trait, it should be encouraged. Indeed, Darren has specific ways he goes about doing that.
“I think a lot of it is centered around just understanding the customer. I have OKRs around how many times you’re talking to customers. And how quickly you are reviewing feedback from the field. And how connected are you? So it’s things like that, that foster those conversations.
“And really operationalizing the whole idea of learning and asking those questions. Building systems of learning. Implementing tools that help you start to scratch that itch. Things like FullStory. Things like Mixpanel, that we use to understand how people are doing – or not doing – their job. Where they are getting stuck and then wanting to know more. And then again, building the bridges to the people who can help connect them to customers. We’re doing all of those things to really try and operationalize that curiosity.
“And also, some clear lines of accountability. Because I think product people should always stay away from the how. They need to be in the what and why business, and leave design and engineering to figure out the how. You can certainly be consulted. And as the person most empathetic to the customer and their problem, you’re certainly chock full of knowledge. But you really need to resist getting into the business of how. You really need to be spending time on the why and the what.”