Introducing our 5 Minutes With… series where we speak to industry professionals about their views, opinions and predictions.
Our Product Talent Partner, Jasmine Bindley caught up with Nadia Tosheva about what lies in store for product management in 2021. Nadia is a consultant and mentor, advising start-up founders and entrepreneurs in the area of product strategy, vision and team structure; she also coaches various product leaders and designers helping with professional development and best practices.
Here's what she had to say:
What’s been the most pivotal piece of advice given to you in Product Management?
The first thing that comes to mind is actually more of learning in user research, feedback and decision making specifically - Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do!
This is mostly about not just following what people ask for and complain about, but being able to read between the lines with a critical view, and come up with creative solutions to their problems. Especially if they’re new to the role, it’s too easy for many product leaders to not get this right and lead their products into less inspired and often less impactful paths.
What’s your favourite Digital Product out there and why?
My favourite example for this is thriva.com - I love what a ubiquitous experience they provide!
It has a lot of wonderfully made digital interactions and also a very physical part of the product experience - physically taking a blood sample yourself, sending it off and a lab processing it, before you as a user interact with the results online again. The journey is very well thought through, and so are the parts of the product - the forms, website, testing kit, communication, etc.
What aspects of product management do you find the most exciting?
Working with people is probably both the hardest and the most exciting aspect.
Many managers focus on the process, on delivery and also of course on the end customers. But what actually makes both the work and the environment great is establishing a great team that is autonomous, works well together and actively utilises every person’s unique skills and experience. Creating and encouraging this is hard but incredibly fruitful and rewarding!
Best product book you would recommend to anyone getting in to Product?
If I really have to pick just only one, it has to be Marty Cagan’s INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love. It’s a classic and a great building block for product mindset and culture.
Do you have one you would like to talk about yourself?
One topic that’s always relevant but even more so recently is communication!
Over-communicating and constant alignment is an integral part of good product management, but hitting the right balance with allowing and encouraging deep and meaningful work proves a challenge. I’ve written an article on asynchronous communication that talks about this further.
What is in-store for Product, and what you predict for the industry for 2021?
It may be obvious to many, but what the pandemic introduced as a drive for more remote work and digitalisation of various aspects of our lives isn’t going to go away. I can see a mixture of further development in that direction even though many businesses can’t wait to “get back to normal” and provide physical services and in-person interactions.
One of the positive aspects of the changes that started in 2020 is that collaboration has become somewhat more inclusive. Companies and teams are now more able/open to working people with disabilities or other limitations, or people based in other physical locations. Despite the different medium of collaboration, I do believe this will bring more diversity and more creative ideas and solutions as well. I expect there will be a raise of much more interactive and ubiquitous products and service that will blend the physical and digital world further.