Last Monday Luca Criscuolo and Jörg Malang (both SPLSG) welcomed eight product leaders to the second Product Leader Roundtable in Berlin. This time the topic was OKRs.
In this intimate setting, very honest and insightful discussions could happen. Applying the Chatham House Rule, it was possible to profit from peers without impacting confidentiality. Senior leaders from well-established companies, but also start-ups shared their business cases.
For me, the key takeaways were the following:
OKRs have three dimensions:
OKR definition (spend enough time and love into this and involve your organization)
OKR project implementation (think your project through in advance. Don’t take it lightheartedly)
OKRs as catalysator of a massive change process
Getting Top-Executive buy-in is crucial. It even boils down to how the CEO sees his/her role, the company values and the role of HR.
OKRs get Product Leaders excited.
Everyone in the group said in the final feedback round that they had profited from the day. The quality and intensity of the discussion and the hands-on relevancy of the presented business cases made their days.
We are looking forward to the next Roundtable. In case you are interested in being informed about our next event, please make sure to either become SPLSG member here or sign up for our public newsletter here.
In preparation of our Product Leader Roundtable in Berlin on 16/09/2019 focusing on OKRs, we are looking forward to understanding better how widespread this framework is. Please help us by voting below. Thank you!
Objectives and key results (OKRs) are being discussed everywhere. Obviously, they are helpful to align the direction of the company across different teams. But does this make them fundamentally new?
You should be aware that they have first been mentioned already back in 1975 (read more here). Everyone who has some business education will know “Management by Objectives (MbO)”. We would argue that the framework is anything but new. Nevertheless, the fact that today it has become fashionable to implement OKRs in organizations is new. Above all, there seems to be an imminent need to align not only Product and IT, but also strategy and execution, business and product, product and marketing, etc.
Organizational Starting Point
Let’s take a look at the starting point. Organizational silo structures have made it increasingly difficult to have a competitive advantage over others. In a world where customer demands are getting more and more sophisticated, it is vital to be organisationally effective and efficient. At the same time, defining, designing, building and operating products requires an aligned approach. This cannot be planned like a waterfall project. The big word is “agility”. Most importantly, being able to ad hoc react to new insights and the ability to change direction whenever necessary. In a world where this matters most, a product leader needs to stand up. It all boils down to the ability to influence and to lead people into the desired direction. SPLSG have named those skills “horizontal skills.” Based on product management expertise, the responsibility of a product manager is ever-broadening.
OKRs might be a good framework. But without the overarching skills and without the mandate to lead, the implementation will simply end in a mess.
Get to know more
Discuss this topic more! We would recommend our next Product Leader Roundtable on September 14th in Berlin. It is fully dedicated to the topic “OKRs for Product Leaders.” Secure your tickets here.
Thank you to all our supporters and members since our initial launch in February 2019. It has been an interesting ride. We have had our first Product Leader Roundtable Event in Berlin and countless interactions with our members and product leaders who are interested in strengthening the still young discipline of (true) product leadership.
Now it is time to have a break! Enjoy summer and we are looking forward to resuming our activities in August/September.
Our SPLSG initiator & founding partner Jörg Malang will be in Berlin 02/07/ – 05/07/2019 to meet some product leaders and other people interested in catching up. One of the highlights will definitely also be the SPLSG “Biergarten” Event on July 4th.
In case you are interested in meeting Jörg next week, please feel free to schedule a time via Calendly. Looking forward to it!
Something is going on. When you read job ads for “Head of Product”, not only “customer understanding”, “understanding of technology” and “know how to work in an agile environment” show up as requirements. Increasingly things such as “coach and mentor our Product and UX teams to deliver their maximum potential” are there as well. In my interpretation, I would read that leadership capabilities are becoming increasingly important in the product management space. As long as pieces of advice to Heads of Product like “you need to coach your product managers 1:1” is sold like the hottest thing on earth, we haven’t reached a desirable level of maturity in the product management discipline.
I would see this as a good signal. Many product managers ended up in a leadership role in their organizations – and failed. They weren’t able to assess and develop the members of their staff. This is a sign of a bubble happening as we speak – too many people too early in leadership roles. There are Head of Product & VP Product roles in Berlin that are open for weeks and weeks. It is hard to find the right person. And organizations are increasingly hesitant to promote their existing product managers into leadership roles. The new breed of product leaders will have understood the importance of leadership capabilities. They will combine their product management expertise with a wealth of tools and personal experience to create value as a leader. There is no shortcut to this slow growth. To close this post, I would like to familiarize you with the “Peter Principle“ in case you aren’t aware of it yet. It is from 1969. And more valid than ever – especially in the product management function, I am afraid…