Product Thinking for Product Management with Melissa Perri
Melissa Perri is a champion for product management who’s built her business around helping others understand it. She now teaches product thinking for product management to all types of companies and excels at experimenting small and fast for big results.
Unlearning Business Analysis and relearning Product Management
Starting out, Melissa had no idea what she wanted to do but she knew she wanted to work with people, code and design together. After passing on Wall Street and developer jobs, Melissa found her first gig as a business analyst at Capital IQ. After numerous roles trailing developing and business analyst, Melissa landed at Open Sky, which served as a pivotal moment in her professional life. She discovered the term that truly represented what she was doing—product management.
Melissa’s manager at Open Sky pushed her into teaching her personal type of product management thinking. This led to successful talks and workshops, and eventually, consulting. However, the employees she worked with weren’t allowed to execute what she was teaching, so she taught her way up to the C Suite, innovating product management into product transformation.
Recognizing and Solving Problems
One skill that sets Melissa apart is her natural ability to recognize, address, and fix problems within organizations. Her mantra is ‘what’s the bigger problem?’ and she follows it to the source. Melissa shares a story about working at a startup and how she had to unlearn everything that had made her successful before. It started with karaoke in Nashville and ended up with Scrum.
Melissa’s next unlearning moment came after she and her product team found major success working together to figure out how to ship products sooner. They were more productive than ever before, but that came to a screeching halt when no one used a product she and her team developed. After a weekend conference for startups, Melissa was inspired and began to experiment more freely. She shares the story of how she overcame her fear of failure that enabled her to breakthrough.
A key question I ask is “What’s the bigger problem?” Often people present poor product management symptoms, therefore we need to dig deeper to discover the problem that really needs to be solved —Melissa Perri
How To Experiment
One of the keys to Melissa’s experimentation strategies is to implement small changes that can be iterated quickly. It all comes down to this: How do I learn a little more about what works and what doesn’t? She reveals a huge mistake that many organizations make when they consider an experiment ‘one and done.’ Instead, she recommends starting with the vision and the outcome, taking the next small step that will lead you to your vision, and the importance of learning as you go. This strategy isn’t fiction, as Melissa shows how she used it to launch her own rapid scaling business of today.
Innovating the Product Management Industry
The product management field as a whole is still quite immature and Melissa believes there is much that can be learned. She speaks in terms of two types of companies: those who have scaled through people growth, and those that scale using software. For both types, the cycle of unlearning must begin in the C Suite. Melissa explains why product thinking is the critical component that ties everything together. And the question these companies need to ask is “How do we evolve our businesses to embrace product thinking for scaling product management?”
A lot of options are not as high risk as you think. And having that sort of mindset allows you to try and learn what will and won’t work to help you succeed —Melissa Perri
Resources for Melissa
- Product Institute
- Escaping The Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value
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