Last year I made the decision to hire a product manager, who I soon had fully take the reigns as VP Product. I wrote last year about the decision. The decision was primarily driven by the need for me to operate at the CEO level and the priorities that a scaling company required. But it was also clear to me and others that I was not the type of product person (at that time) that could tak the product to the next level. That’s a diplomatic way of saying I was starting to suck.
- Iterated quickly – When we were in rapid learning mode, we were able to respond very quickly to what we were learning. We built a lot of product, quickly.
- Communication – I was able to ensure that what I had conceived was executed as closely to my vision as possible – through wireframes, Pivotal stories, and tight feedback loops.
- User input – More than at any time in the company since, we were regularly engaged with our users and potential users – and able to translate that into actionable product changes.
- Product market fit – Many products never get to the point where the set of features they have match the customer pain. We were able to.
- Overall strategy and structure – Especially looking at what our dead or dying competitors had done – we made the right overall strategic decisions. This has allowed us to scale in revenue.
- Move fast, break things – This mantra was really my biggest area of improvement. We moved fast, yes. But we broke too many things. Or rather, I allowed too many bugs, defects, scaling issues, gaps, etc. to develop in the growing product. Had these been addressed right at inception, it would have just been a minor annoyance. But I allowed them to fester, and never demanded we fix them – instead requiring massive amount of effort later on.
- Attention to detail – One of my bigger weaknesses is attention to detail. As I’ve learned, in product, it’s the details that count. How does this page work when we go from five buckets to twelve buckets?
- Design as a resource, not a driver – We’ve always had a focus on good design from early on. I had worked with many great designers previously, and had a stable of them to call on as we were getting the company up and running. However, design wasn’t making the decisions regarding layout and functionality – more style than anything else. My attempts at bringing UX onto the team weren’t successful – but that was more of a personnel issue.
- Not saying no – when co-founders, advisors, partners, and users demanded new features and functionality – I did not provide enough resistance. At the end of the day, a CRM requires a relatively wide footprint, but I was too quick to please.