Interview with Bastiano Farran on the management of new world products

(Photo: Bastiano Farran)

Bastiano is one of the most followed leaders in the world today. He is a visionary whose work and ideas have changed industries as we know them today. At 23, Bastiano was able to earn three million dollars in one month by thinking outside the box, all of which he donated to children with cancer. From there, he never stopped working to achieve his seemingly unattainable goals. After founding several companies and successful companies, Bastiano became regional manager of a highly reputable company, increasing the region’s revenue by 135% within months. He then joined a Big 4 consulting firm as a transformation leader, where he received the highest awards in the industry. This gave him the opportunity to lead multi-billion dollar transformations and build the product management practice for Fortune 100 companies. In 2021, Bastiano was voted “Next Gen Leader” by Forbes in recognition of his great achievements in the business world and his influence on budding young leaders.

In this article, Bastiano is going to share some ideas about modern product management in the post-pandemic “new world”.

What is Modern Product Management?

The product ecosystem is becoming increasingly complex, transforming the role of a product manager from an execution-focused role to a mini-CEO role that is data-driven but has no direct authority . Product managers act as a glue that brings marketing, engineering, business, design, finance, legal and more together. Their work impacts the future of the organization through the products and features created, and through the decisions made along the way. With the post-pandemic “New World”, the success of product managers will depend on their adaptability to constant change, their flexibility, their ease with data and their empathy for customers and internal teams.

How would you describe product development today?

In today’s modern product development, LEAN thinking (doing the right thing) and AGILE delivery (doing things right) play a major role. With a focus on continuously creating value for customers, companies like AirBNB can deliver features to their customers in as fast as 2 days. This is accomplished through a continuous delivery pipeline, an operational process that empowers employees, and a mentorship program that gets new hires up to speed quickly.

After seeing product management applied in several organizations, have you noticed any common pitfalls?

I see a lot of product managers falling in love with their products instead of falling in love with their customers. Even large organizations fall into this trap, like Microsoft’s overly sophisticated Windows Vista and Juicero, the wifi juicer that hasn’t solved any customer problems. Another common practice I see is to focus more on process and less on creating value. Some product managers rush through product development before aligning on what value they’re trying to deliver and to which customer segment and designing a good product strategy.

What sets product managers apart?

The role of the product manager revolves around creating value for customers, where the customer can be internal or external to the organization. Some of the common expectations of a product manager include expertise in the product development lifecycle, the ability to conduct proper customer and market research, defining a vision, alignment to product roadmap, product launch planning and execution, emotional intelligence, cross-functional leadership and building trust across the organization. All this makes a “good” product manager.

However, what makes an exceptional product manager is the ability to empathize with customer issues and needs, and to maximize customer value. An exceptional PM can create clarity, vision and motivation around customer needs, ensure design that solves customer problems. They align the entire product development process around iteration, measurement, and improvement to deliver value to customers. This is also emphasized in LEAN product management where it prioritizes customer issues and needs over internal requirements.

What are the trends in product management and development?

We are witnessing unprecedented times. There are trends that have been emerging for a few years, and other trends that have shaped more quickly due to the 2020 pandemic. Here are some of the trends I see:

Product Digitization: With dispersed teams, lockdowns, and health issues due to the 2020 pandemic, the digital transformation of products has seen an unprecedented breakthrough. Many products and services have gone digital. Common examples are food service, online courses and training, and more.

Geographically distributed product teams: With the routine of working from home, it’s common to find product teams working from anywhere in the world. This makes it easier to find product talent anywhere and lowers the company’s fixed costs.

Customer behaviors and expectations are changing. More and more customers expect organizations to relate to their individual needs. This is triggered by the availability of data and how companies use this data to personalize communication, advertisements and product customizations for customers. It’s a minimal expectation, especially for tech-savvy new generations, that companies better understand their customers.

Tools are changing rapidly: there are a plethora of product management tools on the market today that create efficiencies across the entire product ecosystem. New tools can also create opportunities for virtual team collaboration. This will continue to evolve to address the entire product development process or target a single isolated process, such as creating roadmaps.

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