This article was originally published by Rosa Acri on LinkedIn.
I attended the Product Management Conference hosted in London by the well-known Product School. I bet you’re wondering why I would even join such a conference. As a Scrum Master, I don’t need to know everything that happens in Product Management, right? Not really. I was curious. I wanted to understand more about how Product Lead Growth works. Thanks to my amazing colleagues, I got the opportunity to follow the whole conference online, despite it taking time out of my regular product work. I’d like to share my key takeaways with you and just in case you are wondering, I did not want to note down everything, but there were two talks that, for me personally, really stood out.
Yi-Wei Ang | Have Courage: How to Do the right thing as a (Product) Leader
Yi-Wei Ang - talabat (Chief Product Officer)
Yi-Wei Ang opens his talk with a quote:
“Best products come from teams that make courageous bets.” - Brené Brown
His words resonated with me because he shows that there is a way to be a great leader without falling into the conventional pit of the classic product manager.
Product Leaders are expected to have clarity and conviction even in the face of deep unknowns, but the answer always depends on way too many factors around the product.
Bad Habit: Fake it, till you make it. This often leads to giving answers you do not have.
Realizing how much power lies behind sharing uncertainty and having the courage to say “I do not have the answer” is a process and there are specific steps to achieve before that can happen:
#1 Be courageous
- courage to not know the answer
- courage to do the customer-centric thing
- courage to be wrong (the best Product Leaders are willing to be wrong!)
- courage to do something unconventional
- courage to put the plug, be able to look at the product and the organization in the face and say this is not going anywhere
- courage to not take shortcuts
- courage to speak up and also say the ugly things that need to be said
All change that is so personal has to start from an individual. It’s a long journey, it starts with you and goes into the company's culture.
#2 Work on yourself
- check on your ego
- be curious (” Curiosity kills cynicism” —> if you ask questions, it fights your need to be always right!)
- build up your vulnerability muscle (the more you are vulnerable, the more it comes naturally to you)
#3 Work on your organization
- it’s okay to be imperfect
- encourage each other to jump (don’t be scared to open up possibilities)
- be a role model for vulnerability (be open about your struggles, unpack them together with your team, and build trust)
- never leave things unsaid
Repetition matters, when all of this becomes a norm, a learning culture that everyone enjoys working with will be the result of it.
There is no fake it till you make it. What kills vulnerability, is inauthenticity. Lean into the things that make you uncomfortable. That is what makes the journey worthwhile.
If you made it this far, thank you - but I am not done yet. There was another person, who inspired me even more, and let me tell you: I am always amazed by how much a woman can achieve, especially in a world, where we are still not 100% recognized for what we are capable of. Even more so when it comes to talking about inclusion and diversity in our work life.
Jessica Hall - Unleashing the Power of Inclusion: Empowering Teams and Building Products for all
The talk opens up with “There is far more power in diversity and inclusion than there is in risk”. It is a key part of driving innovation and a crucial part of business success.
- at the heart of inclusion is a sense of belonging
- the heart of belonging is a connection
- inclusion takes practice, connection is a constant
“to feel like you are talking in one voice”
How do you start empowering your Teams?
Empathy reduces as rank increases
- It makes business sense, prioritize it
There is a consensus that diversity and inclusion improve innovation and financial results. We all know that innovation is what we want to achieve. It is also opening up to a wider customer base. You are opening yourself up to other perspectives. Implementing Closed Captions is an example. It is about all the people you can reach that you are not reaching today.
- It has to be lived to succeed
You can get all sorts of people to the company, but if you do not build a culture that includes all the voices, it won’t succeed. We need to open our eyes, get uncomfortable and experience other perspectives. We’ve got to challenge common societal stereotypes and question them. Challenge your perceptions.
- It has to be recognized
If we want to effect a change in the culture, if we want inclusion to just happen, to become a habit, we need to recognize it. Trying to build something that is part of what we do. If it is not part of our culture, we don’t have the engagement we want, and we do not have different voices that are heard.
And my favorite quote of the whole conference:
The world is becoming more diverse, and so must we.
Personally, I try to be the best Ally I can possibly be. At Mercedes-Benz.io I am part of the Diversity & Inclusion Team. We are always challenging current standards and ways to be more inclusive on many different levels.
I hope you enjoyed the insights, and I’d like to hear your thoughts and your opinions on how the culture around your company is handled and if there is any leader you work with that inspires you.
If you like to follow up on the whole keynotes, make sure to check out the Product School YouTube Channel. Here you can find Yi-Wei Ang’s talk and also Jessica Hall's.
Source: Everything here is based on the two keynotes I followed during the ProductCon London on 20th February 2023.
Unsplash picture by Product School.