March 6, 2020

JMI Portfolio Company Executives and Industry Experts Share Valuable Insights at 2020 Product & Technology Roundtable

By: Eric de Jager, Harbor Products Group and JMI Product Consultant

How do product teams obtain better input from their investors?  “Remember who is on your board and speak in business terms about the value of what you are doing, and the outcomes you are trying to create. What are you building, who are you building it for, and why does it matter?”

This is just one key observation from a great day I just spent with 70 Product and Engineering leaders across the JMI Equity portfolio. Many thanks to guest presenters Karl Rumelhart, CPO of Gainsight, Steve Johnson  of Under10 Consulting and founding Pragmatic Marketing instructor, Ried Thiel, with Amazon Web Services’ Private Equity Practice, and the numerous contributors across the portfolio.

We focused on a number of valuable topics, including:

Does any university or vocational training program equip product or engineering leaders to hone how they work with an executive team to build the “business of their product”? I’m not aware of one that takes this on effectively. Most focus on individual activities, doing proper discovery or building a backlog in an agile environment. Does any offer experienced insight to help product managers and technology leaders work more effectively with their executive team and their board to orchestrate building value in the company? Again, I’m not aware of one.

Today’s content was compelling, practical, and on topics not readily available to product or engineering leaders. Many thanks to JMI and a great group of presenters/workshop leaders!

A few more key learnings from the day:

“Align roles that focus discretely on: (i) markets; and (ii) customers; and enable the first to set context and guardrails for the second.”

“Aligning investment to strategy effectively isn’t just a prioritization exercise in product management; it requires transparency and communication across the leadership team.”

“If you want to build a strong product culture, it can start with having a compelling, company-wide goal that aligns people to a common, worthy outcome; and it requires establishing investment “swim lanes” that help you bucket investments to strategic goals.”

I am already looking forward to next year and continuing the conversation between now and then through JMI’s series of portfolio and third-party expert-led webinars and online discussion group.