Our Summer Series of podcasts is designed to introduce you to some of our most popular content and superstar PM professionals from the last six years. This episode focuses on product lifecycle highlights from five popular episodes of Product Talk. What’s your strategy for optimizing your product lifecycle efforts? These product leaders share their insights from their experience managing product lifecycle at leading tech firms.
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On the continuing value of user interviews in the product life cycle
Gina Nebesar is Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Ovia Health. According to Gina, understanding your customer’s needs is the foundation for every great product, and she uses user interviews to guide the product development process.
“I still conduct user interviews on a regular basis to inform my decision making. In my experience, it’s important to ask the user what they would expect to see from your product. In other words, ask them to tell you ‘If there was an app that can help you, what would it look like?’”
“Ultimately, you’ll get into detailed insights as you progress in your user interviews. But the key is to establish the human element early. Once you establish a personal connection, your customers will naturally open up to provide the level of detail you need to create a meaningful product.”
On taking a more holistic view of a product
Vivian Chang is Chief Product Officer at BioDigital,a biomedical visualization company that is often referred to as being “Google Earth for the Human Body.” According to Vivian, product management must look at the big picture. “Instead of focusing on individual features, we look at products from top to bottom as a complete experience,” Vivian said.
“Ultimately, this evolution aligns with product management’s position as the glue between engineering and business functions. We’re not just responsible for creating features or hoping that sales figures out how to sell it. Instead, we have to think about the entire product lifecycle – both from an organizational view and most importantly, through the lens of your customers.”
On why data products matter and how great data drives compelling product solutions
Dacheng Zhao, Group Product Manager at LinkedIn, has focused on creating advertising data products that allow advertisers to make decisions without wasting resources—without spending money to see if a program works.
“All budget used for media planning can focus entirely on the finished product, rather than wasting it to verify that something will work,” Dacheng said. In the product life cycle, “These solutions eliminate competing functions and focus on what drives positive results for customers.”
On small changes having a big impact over a product’s lifecycle
Alex Plutzer is a Senior Product Manager at Coinbase. Alex noted that it’s all too common to think that the only way to make an impact is to completely reimagine a product.
“I am a firm believer in small incremental changes that make an even bigger impact at scale. I think we give too much credit to product managers who build things from scratch. That said, I’m not suggesting that it isn’t fun to take on a brand-new challenge. However, I’ve found that solving problems involving tiny details can lead to massive improvements over the long-term.”
This sort of iterative improvement can be found anywhere, including everyday products that you might think were “sorted out” decades ago. “I find great examples of incremental enhancements on Oxo kitchenware products. For example, they offer a pizza cutter that features a rubber-gripped handle. This may not be as sexy as “disruptive” innovation – but the impact of this design enhancement is significant,” Alex said.
On balancing internal and external factors in PM
Alex Kinnier is Co-founder and CEO at GetUpside. PMs, Alex said, must navigate the product life cycle and move the product through barriers that can prevent it from achieving its potential.
“For example, this includes internal barriers within dependent teams within your product management structure like engineering / marketing / etc. In addition, you need to be mindful of external forces and pushback from your customers.”
Ultimately, success as a product manager is a function of balancing these internal and external factors, Alex said. “Along the way, the key is to capture learnings on a constant basis in developing a roadmap for success.”
About the host
SC Moatti is a technology visionary, entrepreneur and investor. She is the founding partner of Mighty Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, and Products That Count, one of the largest communities of product managers, leaders and founders in the world. Previously, she built products that billions of people use at Facebook, Nokia and Electronic Arts. She also serves on boards of both public and private companies, including mobile technology giant Opera Software (OPERA:Oslo). An award-winning bestselling author, Moatti frequently gives keynotes on business and technology, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review, and on NPR. She lectures at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she earned her MBA and has a Master of Science in electrical engineering. Andrew Chen, one of Uber's top executives, called SC “a genius at making mobile products people love.” For more information, visit scmoatti.com.