Lessons from Atlassian | Megan Cook (Head of Product, Jira)

Lessons from Atlassian | Megan Cook (Head of Product, Jira)

Creating a Culture of Innovation and Psychological Safety

  • Megan Cook, Head of Product for Jira, emphasizes the importance of creating space for play and psychological safety within teams to foster innovation and open communication.
  • She implemented several strategies, including creating peer feedback groups and organizing informal peer group meetings to build trust, rely on each other, and receive valuable input.

Strategies for Effective Leadership and Communication

  • To increase productivity, leaders should allocate time for deep work and minimize meetings.
  • Leaders can sync their calendars to create long stretches of uninterrupted time and make themselves available for additional one-on-one meetings as needed.
  • To make the most of meeting time, leaders should avoid status updates and instead use asynchronous communication tools.
  • Leaders should document decisions, strategies, and project kickoffs to ensure transparency and accountability.
  • Audio and video recordings can be a valuable tool for remote communication and documentation.

Getting Buy-In and Making Tough Decisions

  • Getting buy-in for ideas and projects requires involving stakeholders early in the process and incorporating their feedback.
  • It's important to be open to different perspectives and solutions when seeking buy-in.
  • Fighting the good fight, or doing the things that need to be done even if they're not popular or a priority, is important for long-term success.

The Journey of Launching a Successful Product

  • Atlassian's success in launching multiple successful products is attributed to their willingness to take multiple shots and learn from each attempt.
  • The process of validating and launching a new product involves partnering with customers and iterating quickly to assess its viability.
  • Atlassian uses a step-by-step gated process called "JIRA Product Discovery" to evaluate new product ideas.
  • Advice for launching a second product in a large company:
    • Start really small with the idea and solution.
    • Don't add too many people to the team.
    • Give the team freedom to move quickly and solve problems in a different way.

Jira's Success and Key Learnings

  • Jira's success can be attributed to its customer-centric approach, with rituals in place to gather and act on customer feedback.
  • The company fosters a culture of innovation through hackathons, open idea sharing, and exploring emerging technologies.
  • Jira addresses specific market needs by creating products like Jira Product Discovery, driven by real-world problem-solving.
  • Continuous investment in both core business and future opportunities ensures long-term success.
  • Jira's agility allows for quick adaptation to market shifts, as seen in the company's successful transition to a cloud-based experience.
  • The ability to make tough decisions, such as killing off underperforming products, contributes to Jira's ongoing success.

Megan Cook's Recommendations and Personal Insights

  • Megan recommends thinking bigger with products that you like and considering how they can be applied more broadly or to other uses.
  • She suggests implementing a "Fight Club" concept where team members meet regularly to address conflicts and solve problems.
  • Megan recommends the books "Inspired" by Marty Cagan and "Scaling People" by Claire Hughes Johnson.
  • Her favorite recent TV show is "Foundation," but she notes that the show differs significantly from the book series.
  • Megan likes to ask candidates about their biggest failure during interviews to assess their vulnerability, growth mindset, and problem-solving approach.
  • She recently discovered and loves the Traeger smoker, praising its delightful unboxing experience, playful design, and integrated features.
  • Megan's life motto is "Sur maximizing joy," which involves finding what's important and leaning into it, or turning annoyances into enjoyable experiences.
  • Megan Cook discusses what brings her joy, including using a fingerprint reader on her front door, valuing and maintaining relationships, and surfing.
  • She emphasizes the importance of making time for important things and nurturing relationships.

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