Dec. 3, 2019

#5 Rich Mironov: Building a thriving product organization

Rich Mironov is a veteran product leader, often called the "product mensch" in Silicon Valley. In this conversation, Rich enlightens us on how to create a thriving product organization and how a product leader can right the ship.

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My guest in this conversation is Rich Mironov (@RichMironov).

Rich is known as the "product mensch" in Silicon Valley, and for good reason. Educated at Yale and Stanford, Rich is a 30-year veteran of product management at multiple enterprises and startups that have gone public who now consults as an interim VP of Product helping companies to get their product organizations working at top notch.

Show notes

How did Rich end up as a product leader? [0:02:30]
Rich's first week in "product" [0:05:01]
How to learn a new space or company when you don't have background in it [0:06:46]
How does Rich figure out what's really going on, and what to do? [0:08:34]
Common failure modes Rich sees [0:09:32]
What does Rich do in his first 4 weeks as head of product? [0:13:33]
How do you build the trust to make the needed changes? [0:18:37]
Roadmaps: common initial challenge [0:20:29]
How to build initial momentum when "engineering can't ship anything" [0:22:17]
"Teams that don't finish anything quit" [0:25:11]
"Caring is probably the #1 most important feature I see in engineering teams that get a lot of really good stuff done" [0:25:21]
What are the conditions that enable a product team to be at their best? [0:25:43]
Lesson: Assume good intent & don't blame people for the system [0:30:13]
"If we design an organization badly, almost everybody we put into that organization fails" [0:30:27]
"As product people we gotta be curious, we gotta look outside ourselves and figure out what's broken. We're analytical, relentless, and we failed them if our product doesn't work." [0:32:08]
Digging into psychological safety [0:34:55]
How to provide top cover for your team [0:36:13]
How do you make it OK to hear truth and speak truth? [0:37:58]
How to keep the exec team aware of what's being built [0:39:19]
The "exclusive or" question to deal with competing roadmap requests [0:40:15]
"Trust starts with delivering the things we said we'd deliver." [0:42:00]
How do you spread outcomes thinking across an organization? [0:44:06]
Roadmaps & outcomes thinking [0:47:13]
How is PM different in a machine learning context? [0:49:16]
"Just because you have a stack of data doesn't mean it's going to tell you anything" [0:52:40]
"Schroedinger's insight" [0:56:05]
How does a product leader think differently about a product portfolio with ML products? [0:56:59]
Impostor syndrome & internalizing impersonal issues [0:59:22]
How do you help the product team level up their skills? [1:06:55]
"The goal of those discussion isn't to focus on some artifact. The goal is to skill up mentally." [1:09:23]
What one change would Rich have product leaders make? [1:11:27]

People, books, companies, resources etc mentioned in episode

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