"Why would you need Product Ops?!"
"Get to an agile way of working with a strong product thinking mindset."
- Chris Compston
I was very skeptical about Product Ops.
I couldn't grasp it. What's Product Ops anyway? What do Prod Ops Managers do the whole day? Why do we need yet another new role and even a whole new team that does things that we've been doing without them the whole time? Aren't we sick of creating new titles for old concepts?
I talked to Chris.
Chris Compston. Check him out!
Thank you Chris.
Chris is my best friend now. Sorry old best friends, you've been pushed aside (you are not but you know I need the dramaturgy).
Chris spoke at the Product at Heart conference at the Product Ops stage about - well - Product Operations. I missed it because I was sitting in the other room listening to the decision-making stream. So, I reached out to him with the question if he could explain Product Ops to me because I don't get why we would need it. Marty Cagan writes about it. Melissa Perri just launched a whole new book about it. I've been in Product Management my whole career and I still didn't get it.
I thought, I'd ask him because he knows his shit. He works (now worked) at Bumble, and previously at Farfetch and Thoughtworks as a Product Ops Leader, so he will tell me what makes it important AND what it actually is, and how to differentiate it from other roles.
And then I spontaneously hit record 😁
Those who follow my German content know that I do this from time to time when I think a conversation that I'm having might be interesting for others in the product world, too. This is the first one in English.
No edit. No preparation. The plain conversation as is. Literally no make-up 😂
Apologies if the audio quality isn't perfect but the purpose of my spontaneous recordings is to share interesting conversations that I feel blessed to have the chance to have, that others might not have. Therefore, more of these will come.
So, here we go. Enjoy the conversation:
Topics we cover:
At what stage of an organization can Product Ops help
HOW we work vs. WHAT we build
Good ratio of Product Ops Manager to Product Teams
Why do we need Product Ops if we already have Product Researchers and Data Analysts?
What's the difference to an Agile Coach or Product Coach?
"Product managers should be understanding and solving customer problems, and making sure that while doing that we can make money with this"
Product Ops can bring in the right people at the right time
What stayed on top of my mind since our conversation:
"We help [the teams] to get to an agile way of working with a strong product thinking mindset." I keep using Chris' quote on what a good product org looks like.
Product Managers don't have to do everything themselves. The solution to this problem that's been introduced in many companies is the split between Product Managers and Product Owners, where PMs get to work on the outside looking and strategic topics and POs work on the inside looking and rather operational topics. This split of the product work sucks for so many reasons. A good new path can be to have a Product Ops team which
takes off work from product people's shoulders
helps streamline a product organization while scaling
helps actually turn the organization into a product organisation
creates new career paths for Individual Contributors (IC) who want to stay IC and keep advancing their career
creates also new career paths for PM who want to become people managers in the same company that might not have a leadership position in the regular PM team.
Three streams: data, research, and streamlined work and collaboration. You might have the roles already in your company. You can group them into Product Ops if it makes sense in your org. If you want to know how to set up Product Ops in your org or otherwise streamline the product work, reach out to Chris Compston.