If things are going well, at some point your company reaches a point where the CEO or founder needs to bring in some help so that they can focus on all the other stuff they need to do in order to run their business.
Here at Float, that meant hiring a product manager to help with building the product roadmap, prioritising what to do next, and being responsible for ensuring the customer experience continues to be superb. That’s where I come in – my name’s Kieran, and I’ve recently joined as the first product manager at Float.
I’m from New Zealand, and in mid 2016 my wife and I took a very long flight from Auckland to Edinburgh in order to enjoy living in this fantastic city. In my career I’ve worked in a number of different industries (advertising, banking, travel, streaming TV) in both small and large businesses – so I’ve had a pretty varied and interesting career to date.
My philosophy on product management is that you should spend a significant portion of your time identifying, prioritising and (most importantly) understanding problems or opportunities before getting into solution mode – there’s a really great blog post from the folks at Intercom that explains the rationale behind this. I’m also very aware that great solutions come from a variety of different viewpoints – as it happens we have a bunch of really clever folks here at Float who have loads of great ideas.
Joining a new company is always a bit daunting, but everyone at Float has made it super easy for me and has made me feel like part of the team immediately. My first week involved meeting everybody and talking about what’s going on in Float today. I’ve tagged along to user testing sessions, retrospectives and webinars as an observer, just to get a feel for how people work and to get up to speed with what everyone is doing. I also timed it so that my second day in the office was the Christmas party – start as you mean to go on, right? Crucially, the coffee is great quality and readily available – I’m stoked that our CEO Colin makes this a key priority.
My first big challenge is to identify and understand all of the problems and opportunities that we could go after, so we can then decide on the right priorities and make sure we’re all pulling in the right direction. As a newbie, it can be risky to come in and try to make really important decisions about the product straight away. Usually, you just don’t know enough about your customers or the product to get it right. Given that, my aim is to focus more on bringing structure to how we prioritise, and to spend some time learning about our customers.
Here at Float, something we’re really passionate about is understanding our customers. We use the Jobs To Be Done framework to understand which jobs our customers are hiring Float to do, so we can see where we’re helping and identify areas where we could do better. We also capture feedback from conversations via Intercom, so we can identify the most common issues users face, or the most common requests for things they’d like to be able to do. We also undertake user testing to get early feedback on concepts, and iteratively develop those concepts based on what we learn. There’s always room for improvement, so I’ll be focusing on making sure we continue to get the feedback and insight we need in order to build an even better product.
I’ll be dropping blog posts on occasion to talk about the things that we’re doing, and the things we learn as we work on making Float better. If there’s anything you want to know, or anything you’d be interested in reading about, just drop me a line via firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll see what I can do.
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