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TALENT: The 7Ts Of Product-Led Transformation

By Adrienne Tan

Too often, in transformation programs we focus on the technology and not enough on ensuring we have the right capability in our teams to deliver on the transformation promise.Transformation starts with people! The only way to successfully transform is to identify and hire the right people with the right adaptive skills.

How do we assess our current capability and then recruit and build the right team to deliver on the transformation process?


Technology is the enabler that provides people with the tools to transform organisations.

When leaders think about investing in technology, they should first think about investing in the people who can make that technology useful.

Digital Transformation Is About Talent, Not Technology

The only way to transform is to identify and hire the right people with the right attitudes and skills and put them in the right seats.

Product Leaders who do well initiate recruitment outreach activities and answer two questions at the start of the Transformation effort:

  1. Who do I need now to help us Transform?
  2. Who will I need in the future to work in the new operating environment?

While there is a cross-over between the two questions (after all, great Product people are flexible!) the skills, attitudes and even specific roles required vary.

1. Resources Now

These are change-makers, pioneers, who thrive when writing the first words on a blank page. They are the people who can see the ‘Target State’.

Adaptive skills are key. These are people who can motivate, lead with informal authority, and most importantly take the broader team on the journey to get them on board with where the transformation is headed.

Their roles must focus largely (ideally entirely) on making the transformation happen. These teams are not assigned to 50% BAU / 50% Project.

Their biggest, most important goal is to ensure that the organisation executes on its Transformation Plan and ultimately becomes Product-Led.

We often see organisations struggle to find the right people internally for this stage. After all, many of the current team initially signed up for their current role, not to be a transformational change-agent – and that is okay! Don’t be afraid to look to the market, or to firms that specialise in transformation for the help you need at this point.

2. Resources for the Future

These are the growers. Those who excel in working within defined systems using the right tools. These are the people who take the words already on the page beyond where the original author ever thought possible.

Adaptive skills are still essential, but we start hiring with more of a bias towards the technical – the deep product experts who can use their product skills to continually drive value.

During your transformation, design for a ‘Target State’ that focuses on small teams that are independent, cross-functional, and accountable for deliverables and outcomes.

Bridging the Talent Gap

In order to determine which skills you need now and in the future, consider the following:

  1. Review the ‘Target State’ operating model to deeply understand the types of skills required to perform the work and activities required to achieve the Portfolio or Product Vision.
  2. Create a Master Accountabilities Chart which includes:
    1. A list of the required functional units in the organisation (Growth, Product, Data etc) to run the new operating model.
    2. The accountabilities of each functional unit.
    3. The key measurable outcomes delivered by each functional unit.
    4. The technical and adaptive skills required by each functional unit in the organisation.
    5. Describe the outcomes required by each function.
      1. Don’t include roles and role titles because we often get caught up in pay scales.
  3. Assess each team member using a standardised, objective assessment survey across each functional unit.
    1. Benchmark the current skills available in the organisation.
  4. Understand the skill gaps that you’ll encounter in the future and devise a plan to bridge the gap.
    1. The plan may include lifting your organisation’s profile in the community, identifying and hiring new recruits over a period of time, contracted short term resources, training existing team members and potentially shifting roles for some folks.

Lastly, it takes patience and time to build a high performing team. It all starts with understanding your skill requirements and crafting a job description that firstly, prevents the wrong people from applying for the role and secondly, entices the right people to join the organisation. Once, you’ve got the right people, a consistent, comprehensive onboarding program is the third element in engaging members of your high performing team.


Want to improve your company’s chances of Transformation success by learning how others transformed their companies and teams using Product-Led techniques? The evidence shows that Product-Led organisations yield better financial results.

LTP DIGITAL 2021 is a one-day conference on May 26, 2021 that is all about how to become one of those organisations.


SPEAKING ON TRIGGERS:

Ken Sandy,
Author, The Influential Product Manager, Ex-VP Product, Masterclass & Lynda.com, Lecturer, UC Berkley

Learn how Ken Sandy, Author of The Influential Product Manager, led and built teams at fast-growth, early-stage companies amid industry disruption. How did Ken harness the “Talent” in his team to deliver on the promise of a product-led transformation?

How do we assess our current capability and then recruit and build the right team to deliver on the transformation process?