Leading The Product 2017 - Trent Mankelow - Speaker Slides
Leading The Product 2017
Melbourne and Sydney, Australia
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Rowing in the
How we scaled
at Trade Me
Trent Mankelow, Chief Customer Officer
“We are very patchy
and hit and miss, it’s a
bit ‘seat of the pants’
“[Our roadmap] only
gets reviewed when
Jon asks what’s
“We are pretty
management is all very
“There is no science
in the roadmaps”
“It’s still really early
days. We still don’t have
a ‘Trade Me Way’ of
“There needs to be
more rigour around
“It’s a bit sink or
Today, product management at Trade Me
looks quite different
Adrienne, back in August
“Yeah, yeah, but how did you get them to
do what you said?”
1. Recruit product managers to help with
Hi everyone. As you know, we are well on the road to having a consistent and robust product management practice at Trade Me. Since our offsite in late January, we’ve been focussing on finalising our toolset. We have:
• Figured out our rules of engagement,
• Chosen a tool for roadmapping and prioritization, and
• We (nearly!) have a revised one-pager built into the wiki (with reference to OKRs, VCARDI, and our new HEARRT metrics framework)
Our next steps are to start using these tools in anger, and to start following a more consistent product management process. As part of this, I am suggesting changes to our process that I would like your feedback on. In particular, I would like to:
1. Establish a Product Council
It’s one thing that we have these tools and processes, but how do we make sure that they are used correctly? Who are you accountable to in regards to following a robust process? I recommend that we establish a Product Council to provide a level of oversight, and
ultimately ensure we choose the right products to build. I recommend that it is a small group - at the moment I’m thinking Ruth (representing UX and Design) and Simon (representing Tech and Mobile) and myself (as overlord).
Just to be clear, it’s not for me or the Council to tell any of you what to build. Our role is to make sure that we are following the product management processes and that our product priorities aren’t subjective.
The Council will also have a role to play to in fostering co-development and co-operation on similar product initiatives across Trade Me. “Hey Jobs, did you know Motors was doing a similar thing?” etc
Q: Does this make sense? Is the Product Council made up of the right people? What worries do you have?
2. Ensure that every one-pager is formally signed off by the Product Council
I am also proposing that every idea requiring more than 4 weeks’ effort or that is strategic in nature requires a one-pager, which needs to be formally signed off by the appropriate business unit head and the Product Council. The Council sign-off would normally happen
at a once weekly meeting. It’s at these sessions that we’ll be kicking the tyres – did the PM correctly use the HEARRT and VCARDI frameworks, is the elevator pitch sharp, is the problem statement clear, is there enough detail? We’ll also be encouraging you to send
through early drafts so that we are less of an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. In the interests of speed, I think there is a get-out-of-jail free card – if you don’t hear back within 24 hours of a council meeting, you should assume sign-off. FWIW, we are expecting no
more than 2 one-pagers to review per week. And for the avoidance of doubt, work should not start before sign-off and I’ll be arse kicking if it does.
Q: Is there anything here that makes your skin crawl? Any risks or worries?
3. Run governance sessions for product managers every 30 days
These will be shortly before the other 30-day sessions, and again the idea is that bake in the accountability and rigour. At these sessions will have a standing agenda that forces us to step back from the individual one-pagers and ask questions like:
• What has changed in your roadmap since last time? Why?
• What’s been delivered since we last met?
• How are the metrics tracking on initiatives we’ve released in the last 3 – 6 months? What have we learnt?
• Have you released anything that wasn’t covered by a one-pager? (This is to make sure things aren’t sneaking through without a one-pager)
• Is your roadmap well-balanced between customer requests, features that move metrics, etc?
• When was the last time you took time out to think about the bigger picture?
• What are you most proud of?
• What wins have you had?
On re-reading these sound a little bit confrontational, but don’t worry – the sessions should be an equal mix of encouragement and challenge. I also think that is a good string to your bow for those of you who haven’t had much exposure to governance before.
There will be one of these governance sessions per business unit, so in Marketplace there will be a 30-day session that includes Rick, Gabor, Simon, Tim and Phil. The Heads-Of will likely attend these sessions too.
Note that these changes will apply to everyone, including people like Jay and Andrew who wear multiple hats.
I appreciate that while you may be wary of the extra overhead, but when I asked you what you’d change about how we do product management at Trade Me back in January, a clear theme was around improving our processes and tools. I also think this might look worse
than it really is – the idea is that it is lightweight-ish and flexible-ish and that we’ll tweak and iterate when we need to. I think that once the habits are there, we may not need as much oversight. Of course, then it’ll be onto the next thing - we are nowhere near done on
If I could get feedback from you by COB Friday, that would be great.
Looking forward to your thoughts!
Six tips on scaling product management
1.Recruit product managers to help with
2.Use the authority of the CPO position
3.Be open to change
4.Systematise the governance rituals
5.Ask high quality questions
6.Give permission to have fun
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
“If you could get all the people in an organization
rowing in the same direction, you could
dominate any industry, in any market, against
any competition, at any time.”