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How to become a product-led business: Learnings from Pizza Hut, Barclays & DesignMyNight

by CJ Daniel-Nield21 November 2023 5 Min Read

From figuring out how to get new ideas of the ground, to integrating AI and taking an organisation from feature-factory to data-driven. Becoming a product-led organisation is a challenge, to say the least.

In partnership with Rise, we brought together product leaders from Pizza Hut, Barclays, Beamery and DesignMyNight to hear about the techniques they’ve used and the wins they’ve celebrated when applying product practice to large organisations and new innovations.

Key Takeaways

  • Focus on moving towards the smallest possible action you can take. Whether that’s defining your MVP for experimentation or proving the importance of product.

    • As Liz Clow, Product Leader and CPO put it "Just get started, try something different, and report back".

  • Customers should be at the heart of decision-making. This will help you answer questions like: How do we focus on outcomes? And when’s the right time to start integrating AI?

    • “Put the customer, data and insights at the heart of every decision” Max Nguyen, Senior Product Manager at Pizza Hut explained.

  • A good leader who buys into product will build momentum in the business. Couple this with empowering the people on the ground and you’ll unblock innovation ideas.

    • Zainab Kwaw-Swanzy, Senior Product Manager at Barclays told us: "Sometimes all that is needed is a single leader who is able to empower colleagues around them, encourage them to be a bit more experimental, be strong in decision making".

Experimentation & Innovation: Being experimental is necessary for keeping up with industry changes

CJ Daniel-Nield spoke to Nick Telson and Zainab Kwaw-Swanzy about the part of the product process where teams turn ideas into reality.

  • To experiment quickly in large organisations, teams should be focused on figuring out the bare minimum that is needed to start realising the value of the product.

  • When picking new ideas to build, don’t start by trying to prove something will work. Instead ask your team: ‘How do we prove this is a bad idea?’. By doing this, bad ideas will fall away, good ones will stick.

  • Management weary of experimentation should ease into it: set up a little squad, give them a bit of resource, and start testing things.

  • Teams with millions of customers should take a leaf out of Barclay’s book. Instead of waiting 6 months to launch something that’s never been tested, product teams should launch small and often. Start with 1% of customers, then 2%, then 5% and so on.

Integrating AI: Start with your existing product strategy and customer problems

Valeria Adani spoke to Henry Kirkness and Yuyu Shen about how businesses can answer the question of integrating AI into their product.

  • The biggest opportunity for businesses that want to integrate AI is to learn. Start by understanding the generative AI toolkit (clue: it’s more than chatbots). This knowledge is crucial to help you integrate AI in a meaningful way.

  • Don’t start with AI, start with the problem. If AI naturally becomes the solution to a customer problem, that’s the time to integrate it (this is why understanding your toolkit comes in handy).

  • AI will never be perfect, but it should be useful. This means good AI is assistive: it gives the user a say in the output, rather than completing a job for them.

Becoming product-led: Data-driven decisions & cross-functional collaboration

Fiona McLaren spoke to Max Nguyen and Liz Clow about the culture behind being a successful product-led organisation, and what teams need to be set up for success.

  • Being ‘product-led’ doesn’t mean product people leading the business. It’s about building a shared vision for your product strategy across cross-functional teams – with data at the heart of it.

  • Large organisations need to start thinking in outcomes. Rather than thinking about what features to build, teams should be asking: what are the outcomes we want for our customers?

  • Speak to the rest of the business in their own language (e.g. marketing or sales), but start to bring in product thinking and ways of working. This will help you build strong alignment.

Want more learnings like this from product leaders? Sign up to Inflight, the product newsletter for people who know good product means good business.

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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