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Jiaona Zhang: Why All Product Teams Should Have a Scorecard & How to Use It | E1154

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Jiaona Zhang: Why All Product Teams Should Have a Scorecard & How to Use It | E1154

Intro (00:00:00)

  • Jiaona Zhang, a product leader, discusses the exciting nature of being a product leader and the challenges of balancing speed, quality, and scope.

Entry Into the World of Product (00:00:40)

  • Jiaona Zhang realized her passion for product management while working as a consultant.
  • She wanted a role that allowed her to build and implement her ideas rather than just advise on them.
  • Despite not having a CS degree or attending Stanford, she was able to enter product management by leveraging her analytics and economics background.
  • She found her love for product management in the gaming industry due to the constant iteration and engagement required.

Advice for Entering Product Management (00:02:28)

  • For those interested in entering product management, Jiaona Zhang advises:
    • Work on a product you are passionate about.
    • Prioritize getting learning repetitions (reps) by working in an environment that allows for frequent shipping and iteration, such as the gaming industry.

Balancing Speed, Scope & Quality (00:03:10)

  • There's a trade-off between speed, scope, and quality.
  • Speed is crucial for learning and staying competitive.
  • Quality cannot be compromised as it affects user acceptance.
  • The relationship between quality and scope varies depending on the market and customer needs.
  • Quality can be perceived as aesthetics or the extent of automation and ease of use.
  • Striking the right balance between scope and quality is essential, considering customer needs.
  • Scorecards help measure progress and identify areas for improvement.
  • They provide a shared understanding of goals and expectations.
  • Scorecards should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  • They should be reviewed regularly and adjusted as needed.
  • Scorecards can be used to reward and recognize team achievements.

Managing Feedback Cycles (00:06:01)

  • Feedback cycles can be slow in certain industries, such as B2B, where sales cycles are longer.
  • There are leading indicators that can be obtained quickly, such as customer feedback on new features, which can provide valuable insights even before long-term metrics are available.
  • A product scorecard is a tool that helps product teams track and measure their progress towards achieving their goals.
  • It provides a centralized view of key metrics and allows teams to identify trends and make data-driven decisions.
  • Scorecards can be customized to include metrics that are specific to a team's goals and objectives.
  • Some common metrics included in product scorecards are:
    • Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
    • Customer lifetime value (CLTV)
    • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
    • Churn rate
    • Product usage data
  • Scorecards should be reviewed regularly to ensure that teams are on track and to identify areas for improvement.
  • They can also be used to communicate progress to stakeholders and to align team members around a common set of goals.

Documenting Data & Learnings (00:07:51)

  • Codify and document data and learnings to ensure team-wide benefit.
  • Use a KPI tree to track progress and align product metrics with business metrics.
  • Business output metrics at the top of the tree:
    • Financial health metrics (e.g., signups, subscriptions)
    • Shared by every team in the company
  • Input metrics that drive business metrics:
    • Subscriptions, churn rate
  • Product metrics at the lower branches:
    • Adoption, NPS, behavior changes
    • Closely tied to business output metrics
  • KPI tree helps to see how product metrics impact business metrics and overall revenue.

Creating a KPI Tree (00:10:34)

  • A company should always have the skeleton of a KPI tree to understand how the product works and how things flow through the business.
  • Without a clear understanding of the KPI tree, companies may panic when growth stalls and start trying random things without a clear understanding of cause and effect.
  • It's important to identify the levers that drive the desired outcomes for the business and to understand the equation between actions and results.
  • Over-focusing on metrics without understanding the cause-and-effect relationship between actions and outcomes.
  • Not providing teams with both a qualitative headline for success and a quantitative metric to measure progress.
  • Not being able to tell a story around the investment levels that the company believes in.

Different Metrics for Different Teams (00:13:12)

  • Different teams have different metrics.
  • A company should have a clear strategy that is shared by all teams.
  • The best metric for a team depends on what the team is trying to achieve.
  • Growth teams should not be micro-optimizing numbers, they should be making meaningful changes to the product.
  • Growth teams should be able to articulate their hypotheses for what will drive growth.
  • Giving a team a number to optimize can lead to local maximum wins instead of global maximum wins.

The Paradox of Planning (00:16:40)

  • Product teams should use scorecards to track progress and identify areas for improvement, and obtain early signals through prototyping and user testing.
  • The product role is cross-functional and requires adaptability to different areas such as sales, support, and growth.
  • Product leaders should encourage their teams to engage with users, gather feedback, and prioritize it based on different customer types and their needs.
  • Identify your ideal customer profile (ICP) and avoid artificially constraining your business.
  • Focus 80% or more of your time on strategy and rituals, rather than planning and process.
  • Strategy includes knowing your direction, unique positioning, and what you're not doing.
  • Planning often leads to disappointment due to unexpected changes and time constraints.
  • A product team's strategy should be concise and well-articulated in a two-page document led by the CEO or CPO.
  • The strategy document should outline the team's advantages, investments, and non-investments.
  • Rituals are essential for effective product team functioning.

Building Successful Product Teams (00:26:01)

  • Jiaona Zhang emphasizes the importance of using rituals to build habits and improve organizational effectiveness.
  • She advocates for transparency as a key principle and recommends using scorecards to provide visibility into the most critical projects.
  • Scorecards should focus on the 5-10 most important projects that require cross-team collaboration.
  • The purpose of scorecards is to identify risks early and take proactive measures to mitigate them, rather than waiting until it's too late.
  • Effective scorecards involve regular communication and collaboration between product, design, and engineering leaders to ensure alignment and timely problem-solving.
  • Scorecards help align product, engineering, and design leaders on project progress and goals.
  • Transparency is crucial for effective collaboration and decision-making within a product team.
  • Each team member's judgment and ability to fulfill their role contribute to the team's overall predictability and ability to meet deadlines.

Rituals for Effective Product Development (00:30:27)

  • Jiaona Zhang emphasizes transparency and using a scorecard as a ritual within product teams.
  • "Product jams" foster agility and creativity by defining success metrics, identifying risks, and exploring multiple solutions during specific product development stages.
  • Product jams involve founders, product heads, and sales teams, with frequency and participants varying based on the product stage.
  • Asynchronous product jams require more preparation and digital tools like FigJam or Miro.
  • Co-creation, fast movement, and pride of ownership are crucial for product teams.
  • Demo Power Hour showcases work in progress, fostering speed and ownership.
  • Founders should instill urgency by demonstrating user impact and modeling desired behavior.
  • Leaders should model 1.5x the urgency they expect from their teams.

Hiring Product People (00:37:52)

  • Before hiring a product leader, consider leveraging existing team members and clearly define the problem you aim to solve with the hire.
  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses to find a product leader who complements your skills.
  • Domain expertise may be necessary if the current team lacks it, while being a generalist can offer advantages such as reduced bias and a high learning rate.
  • Implement a scorecard system, as suggested by Jiaona Zhang, to measure product team success, identify growth opportunities, and stay competitive.
  • In a rapidly changing world, product teams must be adaptable and willing to discard existing mental models to maintain innovation.
  • Product leaders should embrace agility and adaptability in their strategies to respond effectively to rapid innovation and market changes.
  • Successful businesses can be built in competitive markets by identifying user demand and pain points.
  • Webflow is a powerful tool that enables users to create professional-looking websites with deep brand affinity, but it may not be suitable for everyone, especially those who are not tech-savvy or do not require advanced features.
  • Webflow's acquisition of Until.io aims to provide a comprehensive website development stack beyond just website building capabilities.
  • Linktree has the potential to become a multi-billion dollar business by focusing on testing and optimizing landing pages and evolving into a consumer-first platform where users can discover content from their favorite people.
  • Linktree should take a sequential approach to achieve its goal, starting with increasing repeat usage and making the platform a destination, then attracting brands to attract creators, and finally becoming the go-to platform for both creators and brands.

Quick-Fire Round (00:53:06)

  • Founders should prioritize understanding people's problems before developing solutions to achieve product-market fit.
  • To get promoted, focus on delivering exceptional work in a high-impact area, establish a specific expertise, and avoid being preoccupied with the promotion itself.
  • Recent notable achievements in consumer products include advancements in Chat GPT and Meta's Quest virtual reality technology.
  • Product teams should embrace productive tension with other functions like sales and engineering, with the product person facilitating this collaboration.
  • Companies should consider hiring younger individuals, particularly those from younger generations who are attuned to current trends, to break the cycle of requiring prior product management experience for great product jobs.
  • OpenAI's pursuit of search innovation and Meta's strategic moves in messaging and virtual reality exemplify impressive product strategies.
  • Disney+'s success as a streaming platform is attributed to its focus on delivering quality content.
  • Despite the company's achievements, the CEO of Disney+ remains underrated.
  • The discussion between the speakers was successful, despite deviations from the planned schedule.

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