7 podcasts that will help you be a better product manager

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I first began listening to podcasts in earnest two years ago, generally as part of my daily two hour commute. Unlike other forms of media, I like the fact that with podcasts, I can switch off from everything around me and just concentrate on really listening to (and absorbing) the episode I’m playing; of being fully present in that moment.

Podcasting allows me to use my commute time to learn more about the things I love; to explore new ways of thinking and ideas; and to see the world from many different perspectives.

While product management is just one of the podcast playlists you will find on my phone, it is one that I return to week in, week out, to refine, expand and add to my core skills as a product manager. I’ve put together a list of a few of my favourites. I hope you like them!

Design Your Thinking 

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Hosted by Karthik Vijaykumar, Design Your Thinking brings together the worlds of design thinking and product management with Karthik interviewing leading product management and design managers (mostly from the United States). Karthik is skilled in helping weave a narrative and manages to draw out some interesting and relevant insights from his guests.

The Design Your Thinking website includes a summary of what you will learn in each podcast, additional resources relating to the guest and topics covered, making it easy to navigate and choose which podcast to add to your playlist.

This is HCD

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This is HCD is aims to bring a shared vision and understanding between the people who contribute to the creation of services in the world.

It provides fortnightly content for product managers, service designers, user experience designers, user researchers, visual designers, interaction designers and user interface designers to name a few.

Hosted by Gerry Scullion and Adrienne Tan, and broadcast from Sydney, Australia, This is HCD is a much needed addition in the product management and design podcast landscape.

While a relatively new podcast series, This is HCD has already delivered – covering a range of sectors and elements of business and service design. These include applying design thinking to education; using ethnographic research to uncover customer needs as well as the difference between brand and icon design.

One of my favourite podcasts!

100PM

100PM is on a mission to interview 100 Product Managers from around the world – and fortunately for us, allows us to share that journey via their podcast.

Born out of a desire to bring a diverse range of perspectives to demystify and create a common understanding about the profession of product management, host Suzanne Abate, interviews a global cast of product management leaders.

“100 PM is as much a resource for students, career-changers and tech-lovers as it is for those of us who are already working in product management to know we’re not alone in our struggles.” – Suzanne Abate

Anecdotally Speaking 

Anecdotally Speaking podcast

Story telling, and the ability to convey concepts and ideas in an engaging way and with influence is a core skill for any product manager. In this Podcast, Shawn Callahan and  Mark Schenk use real life business stories to help listeners awaken the storyteller within.

Let’s face it, a core function of product management is the ability to influence and ‘sell’ the value of your ideas and propositions to key stakeholders, customers and backers. If you can’t communicate your idea effectively then you have a problem.

Anecdotally Speaking is a great podcast to help you craft your business and personal narrative and communicate your ideas with confidence.

Masters of Scale

Masters of Scale is an original podcast hosted by LinkedIn Co-Founder and Greylock Partner Reid Hoffman showing how companies grow from zero to a gazillion. In this  series of podcasts, Hoffman tests his theories with famous founders.

Professionally produced, Masters of Scale keeps listeners engaged as guests tell stories of how they have disrupted the industries they work in and developed sustainable business ideas which they have successfully grown at scale (hence the title!).

Masters of Scale is the first media programme in the United States to commit to a 50-50 gender balance for guests.

We Need Another Meeting – A podcast about product

We Need Another Meeting is the brainchild of Josh Tolman and Kyle Jacobsen. Covering a wide range of product management, UX and design domains, We Need Another Meeting is a great resource for both beginner and experienced product managers alike.

In addition to covering core topics such as how to manage product prioritisation and scope creep, Josh and Kyle also address often neglected areas such as pricing and metrics.

Professional Pricing Society Podcast

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While pitched at pricing professionals, the PPS Pricing Podcast has some valuable insights and lessons for product managers, particularly on defining and creating value.

If you have ever struggled to define the value of your product within a business case or monetise your product idea, then this is a must add to your podcast playlist.

If you are looking for an alternative resource on pricing, then you might want to try Pricing Prophetsfounded by Australian Jon Manning. While not a regular podcast, the  there are a number of podcasts you can download from their learning centre.

What podcasts are you listening to?

 

Yours Productly – Jobs To Be Done

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JTBD takes the focus away from feature sets. Instead the core focus moves to understanding what it that the product is solving for; the customer need; the job the customers are going to use the product for and how to solve for that.

Want to know more about the Jobs to Be Done framework?

Visit Yours Productly and listen to Ravi Kumar and I discuss the key concepts and how #JTBD can be applied in product development.

Women in Design: How to Trust Yourself

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Reposted from the fifth Women in Design event on the 19th of April 2016.

“Female voices, she argued, are underrepresented in professional settings, from entry-level positions to the C-suite. But when women become more visible, they’re subject to extra criticism and backlash, whether they’re simply sharing their talents or pitching their voices into more charged discussions like negotiating salaries,raising venture capital, and speaking out against sexism.” – Maria Molfino

Some common themes to those discussed at the Sydney Product Talks session on the role of gender in product management.

Wonderful advice from this panel discussion at the Designer FundHappy reading: How to Trust Yourself: Insights from 6 Top Women Leaders in Design & Tech

Does Gender Play a Role in Product Management?

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Last night I led a discussion at the Product Talks Sydney in relation to the role of gender in product management.

One of the reasons I started thatproductchick was because, as a woman in product management, I felt disconnected from much of the product management discussion and representation. When you search for “product manager” online, for example, overwhelmingly the imagery and language is male.

In my product management career to date, I have encountered both overt and implicit gender bias. With experience (and many mistakes!), I have learned how to be effective and overcome these challenges. As with any implicit behaviour however, they are difficult to identify, navigate and ultimately change. (Any product manager who has explored the role of behavioural economics in service and product design will know how powerful implicit belief systems are.)

Below is a brief excerpt from last night’s presentation, outlining things product managers and leaders can do to to address gender bias and make the product community reflective of the community in which our products and services thrive:

  • Don’t hold yourself back – work outside your comfort zone and take the opportunities that come your way
  • Be explicit about your career aspirations and choices. Ask for and participate in professional development and training
  • Keep real-time records – objective metrics and compliments that you can use in your performance conversation and be prepared substantiate and highlight your achievements
  • Don’t undermine yourself – be quietly confident
  • Watch out for being unfairly assigned ‘office housework’. Be strategic about what you say yes to and what you say no to
  • Know your product portfolio financials and metrics – metrics are hard to argue against; they build your credentials and can bridge divides based on stereotypes or biases
  • Actively engage stakeholders early and frequently – even the tough ones.
  • As a product leader (both women and men), actively hire for diversity and inclusion. Be conscious of your inherent bias.
  • Support your team to work across (and up) your organisational structure

A big shout out to Adrienne and Nick from Brainmates for hosting last night’s event.

You can download a full copy of the presentation: Does Gender Play A Role In Product Management V3.7

 

Don’t confuse a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with a Go-To-Market shortcut

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As a Product Manager I am often working towards the launch and development of an MVP – Minimum Viable Product. An MVP is a great means to launch quickly and effectively in market; to test and learn, iterate and refine. It should not, however be confused with a go-to-market short cut.

In developing an MVP you can’t negate good product management disciplines:

  • Know what market or customer problem you are solving for – what is the job to be done?
  • What does success look like? How will you measure success – unit sales; conversion; customer satisfaction; utilisation. Make sure that you have defined measures which are actionable. If you can’t do anything against your measures then they are worthless.
  • An MVP does not mean you don’t have to take care in both product and user experience design. Test your MVP before you take it to market. I like to do this across a number of iterations and/or channels; internally, online and with real, live prospects/customers.
  • Engage the business. Make sure that your key stakeholders across the business understand the value your proposition will deliver and their respective roles in testing, iterating and embedding it in market.

Lastly, make sure you have a well defined exit strategy. Hopefully your MVP has been strategically developed against a set of core business objectives. However, if for some reason you take it to market and it fails, you need to know when to pivot, when to refine and when to exit.