Learnings after 1 year of being Head of Product at a B2B platform
These are my learnings after 1 year in the position of Head Of Product at Visable, powering the B2B platforms wlw and europages.
- Culture beats everything
- Write down decisions
- Save time for learning
1. Culture beats everything
Product management is a diverse and fuzzy craft. It's hard to define what exact skills are needed and how they can be developed and which standards exactly you want in your product organisation.
No matter how well you define your "good" for how your product managers should work, you will never give have definitive answers and 100% direction for every product manager.
In this setting of certain uncertainty, the cultural mindset of each product manager matters most:
- Are they willing to learn?
- Are they willing to create clarity and not wait for it?
- Are they willing to help?
- Are they willing to be servant and lateral leaders and put their teams first?
If those mindset questions are not clearly answered with "yes", you will have massive problems with these product managers as their culture does not match yours. You will not be able to change mindsets easily.
Focus on product culture match in everything you do as product leader - hiring, growing, letting go.
2. Write down decisions
Talk is cheap: talking is easy, writing is hard and verbal agreements are forgotten quickly. This is why decisions are often not taken at all, because no one knows about it or taken multiple times as they are forgotten or unclear. The biggest unblocker for teams is to establish standards for how to take decisions – and enforce them. If it's unclear, who actually should and can take the decision, you can tweak Delegation poker and make it decision poker – it helps to communicate about decision expectations and take them more easily.
3. Save time for learning
As Head of Product, you are constantly very busy with operational and strategic topics. If you don't set aside time and energy to reflect and learn by reading and writing beyond these daily tasks, you will be trying to solve every new problem with your old skills and your old mindset and not make any progress.
I try to start every day with at least 30min of learning, my mind is still fresh in the morning and the blizzard of requests from my organization has not reached me yet. My goal is to do this sustainably for 60min every morning.