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Easy-wins lead to quicker buy-in: 3 lessons from product leaders at big businesses

by CJ Daniel-Nield17 July 2023 3 Min Read

Let’s face it, if you’re a product leader at a big business you probably don’t have a lot of people who understand product around you. Which can make implementing product challenging, to say the least.

But what might be harder, is not having a space to share your experiments and learn from other product leaders in a similar boat.

So when we do get together with other product leaders what are the big talking points? And what learnings can be shared to help make implementing product easier?

We sat down with product leaders from healthcare, retail, and green-tech industries to hear their top lessons for implementing product successfully.

1. CPOs spend more time advocating, not executing, product.

Product leaders are very rarely doing product (things like user research) in their day-to-day. Instead, they have to advocate for product and convince other stakeholders how things should be done.

To do this well they need to:

  • Have influence and build trust.

  • Have a brilliant team that they can rely on to do good work.

  • Be able to manoeuvre and stay flexible as they go.

2. Easy-wins lead to quicker buy-in

The way to get buy in early on is to just get some easy-wins done, and not worry about the outcomes.

  • Everyone who’s not in product thinks in features not in outcomes. For example, if your organisation is considering adding a Google login button to improve conversion, all people care about is adding the Google login button.

  • At the start of a product leader role, you’re measured in whether you’ve done the thing by when you said you were going to do it.

  • So set yourself some easy achievable things, get them done, and don't get too hung up on the outcomes, because no one else is thinking in outcomes.

  • Once you've done a few of these things, you buy yourself a little bit more room to do more product.

3. The best CPOs are storytellers

Doing successful product is about telling a good story and weaving a strong narrative around why things are happening.

  • Businesses cases in product are really hard to do because you’re often just making up numbers.

  • Define a charter or narrative at the start of your role and use this to start each meeting: repetition is what it takes.

  • Use videos and play back user research to help bring people along the journey.

Key Takeaways

  • The product maturity level of the product organisation defines the types of problems that product leaders have.

  • Product Leads are very rarely doing product in their day-to-day, it’s all about managing stakeholders and processes and advocating for product in the C-Suite.

  • Having a good team is essential to success. Product leaders often take good people with them when they move into new jobs.

  • Those responsible for product need to get wins on the board early to help build trust. This buys more space to do more product.

Getting product right at large organisations is hard. We’re on a mission to change that, so we’re speaking to senior leaders from large organisations like Lego, John Lewis and Barclays to dig into the challenges of implementing product within the unique constraints of their businesses.

Got a story to tell? We want to hear from you. Reach out to CJ for a chat:

I’m CJ, co-founder of Planes and in charge of all things strategy and growth. Coming from the world of startups, I want everything done 10x quicker than humanely possible—and I love my team for trying.
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