Season 2 Episode 4: The Strategic Role of Product Operations in Business Growth

The Strategic Role of Product Operations in Business Growth

In Episode 4, Season 2 of ,UX Leadership By Design Denise Tilles discusses the critical role of product operations in scaling businesses and enhancing product development. She underscores the necessity of integrating product and design teams with a strong emphasis on leveraging data and research operations to drive impactful business results. Denise targets a broad audience for the book, including product managers, VPs, CPOs, and CEOs, to emphasize the universal benefit of adopting product operations frameworks. Key insights include the essential nature of operationalizing product teams, the significance of data in refining product strategy, and the importance of cross-functional collaboration for effective operationalization.

Key Takeaways

  • Data-Driven Insights: The transformative impact of integrating data analysis into product management to uncover revenue opportunities and drive strategic decisions.
  • Operationalizing Product Management: Identifying signs for the need to formalize product operations within growing organizations to enhance alignment and efficiency.
  • Broad Audience Engagement: The importance of product operations for a range of professionals from product managers to CEOs, highlighting its cross-functional relevance.
  • Value of Collaboration: Emphasizing the synergy between product, design, and technology operations to foster a cohesive and effective operational framework.
  • Learning and Growth: Encouraging a culture of continuous learning and adaptation within product teams to remain agile and responsive to market demands.
  • Strategic Alignment: The crucial role of product operations in aligning product development efforts with overarching business goals and customer needs.
  • Resource Optimization: How product operations can help in prioritizing and efficiently utilizing resources, especially in times of economic constraints.
  • Cross-functional Communication: Facilitating better communication and collaboration across departments to ensure a unified approach to product development and business strategy.
  • Empowerment through Education: The potential for operational roles to educate and empower teams in research and data literacy, enhancing their ability to contribute to product success.
  • Focus on Value Creation: Reiterating the core objective of product management and operations as the creation and delivery of value to customers and the business alike.

About Our Guest

With over a decade of product leadership experience, Denise Tilles supports companies like Bloomberg, Sam’s Club, and athenahealth to enable meaningful outcomes by strengthening capabilities in:

  • Product operations
  • Product Strategy
  • Organizational Design
  • Product Operating Model

On the operating side, she’s built and led product teams at Cision, Conde Nast, and For more information, contact Denise at

Resources & Links


00:00 Introduction and Background
03:13 Discovering Product Operations
04:26 Defining Product Management
05:29 Target Audience for the Book
08:14 When to Operationalize Product Teams
10:36 The Role of Data in Product Operations
18:09 Overlap and Collaboration with Other Ops Teams
22:03 Aligning Design and Product for Operationalization
23:45 The Importance of Research Ops
26:00 Collaboration between Design and Product
28:23 Value of Product Operations


Mark Baldino (00:01.614)
Hello and welcome to UX Leadership by Design. I'm your host, Mark Baldino. I'm also the co-founder of Fuzzy Math. Fuzzy Math is the user experience design consultancy that brings consumer grade UX to business applications, B2B and the enterprise. Today I speak with Denise Tilles, the author of Product Operations, How Successful Companies Build Better Products at Scale. And Denise is gonna explain not just the whys and the hows of product operations and how to best utilize data to align your organization with business and business value. But also what are some of the things you can look for in your organization to understand if it's actually time to operationalize your product management practice to enable your organization as a whole to scale effectively. So the book by title maybe my intended audience might be towards product management folks, and it does a great job at that. But I honestly, I promise that designers, technologists, design leaders, and technology leaders should give this book a read. It is chock full of helpful examples, case studies, charts, graphs, ways you can build a more efficient product management operation at your organization. So without further ado, let's get to the conversation.

Mark Baldino (00:01.538)
Denise, welcome to the podcast. Hi. Oh, it's great to see you again. Full disclosure, everybody. Denise is a former client of ours at Fuzzy Math and had the pleasure of working with her and then have just kept in touch. And you know, you and I have exchanged kind of a bunch of information of best practices in product, best practices in UX design. And I'm thrilled. You recently put out a book, which hopefully you have a copy of. You can show the group, which is called...

Denise (00:03.67)
Thanks Mark, thanks for having me.

Denise (00:23.469)

Denise (00:29.498)

Mark Baldino (00:30.99)
Product Operations, How Successful Companies Build Better Products at Scale. Congratulations. It is a tremendous resource. I've used it with my clients. I'm using it with my team. Before we get to the book, can you just give the audience a sense of your background? How did you get from early in your career to now being a published author?

Denise (00:50.874)
when we worked together. Yeah, so my background actually is in media. So I'm a recovered editor. And somehow I ended up in product. And I think that's how a lot of folks end up in product. There's not sort of a straight line towards that role. And ended up at Condé Nast and leading product there for The New Yorker and a couple of other brands. And then moved into a role at a B2B SaaS company called Scision. I thought, oh.

I don't know much about this. I guess it'll be fine. It turned out it was like the most impactful role I would ever have because I never had access to revenue data when I worked as a product manager at Conde Nast. And it's kind of like having your arm tied behind your back. So when I got the decision, I was leading a team. I'm like, there's so much data. I don't really know what to do with it. There's a lot here. And my boss, the SVP of products said, why don't we get like some data people in here? And I was like, sounds great.

And so we ended up hiring someone very overqualified. She ended up being our VP of strategy and insights, but really I think it was product ops. We ended up hiring a sort of research type of person and she also had a number cruncher type of person, analysts, and with the three of them, we ended up getting amazing insights because they understood the products we had with my product managers, but they had a little bit of objective sort of pullback on it and could identify trends and...

potential challenges that my product managers were too close to. So it turned out in the end, they identified an opportunity that made us a million dollars the first year in a beta product. That was kind of back of the pocket type of thing. I was like, Oh, this is great. Fast forward, fast forward a few years later, I ended up working with Melissa Perry of escaping the bill trap, amazing product visionary. And she starts talking about product operations. Like, what's that? And she's explaining it. I'm like,

Mark Baldino (02:35.414)
That's amazing.

Denise (02:47.638)
I think that's what we were doing. It just didn't have that name, it's Cision. So when I worked with her at Products Labs, her consultancy, we had been supporting a venture capital company in New York City as their center of excellence, sort of being a provider of product resources. And we did some training around product operations. So it kind of got me even more excited to think about all of it beyond data. And pandemic came.

And Melissa decided to focus on teaching at Harvard. We wound down the consulting practice. I decided to go out on my own. And starting to build up my practice, I thought, no one's written a book on this. It's kind of shocking to me. So I slapped her. I'm like, I'm thinking of writing a book at that bananas. And she's like, no, it's a great idea. Why don't you do it with me? And she's like, she still kind of just gotten over the trauma of writing Escaping the Build Trap. But she's like, all right, I'll give it a whirl. So two and a half years it took us.

you know, you're released in October of 2023. And it was probably similar to having a child almost. I have two children, not quite so similar, but it was a lot, but it's great to have something physical to hold is quite an accomplishment.

Mark Baldino (03:51.955)
It's fantastic. It's fantastic.

Mark Baldino (03:57.206)
It's so cool. I mean, for us who work in the digital space to build something physical and to share your knowledge is amazing. And it feels like there's… we'll get into some of the advice and best practices, but it seems timeless at some level, right? I think you're like you're handling the topics at a level that, you know, if I read this two years ago, or if I read in two years, it's really still going to be applicable. I have a question for you. Before we get into product operations,

Denise (04:01.826)
Right, right.

Denise (04:19.002)
I hope so. That's great.

Mark Baldino (04:26.614)
How do you define product management?

Denise (04:29.13)
Oh golly.

Mark Baldino (04:30.638)
Sorry, I just feel like I ask people that who work in product management, I get different answers. I'm kind of curious like what you think.

Denise (04:36.054)
Yeah, well, absolutely. And I ask people that question too. So really it's about helping make sure that with these development resources we have, if we're building a software product or a software enabled type of product that we're focused on the value and delivering value for our customers, internal customers, and really focusing on building the right thing at the right time in the right way. So, yeah. Okay, good.

Mark Baldino (05:01.282)
Fantastic. Sorry, that's great. Succinct, I love it, and that's super helpful. And value, if any of my team is listening, I preach that day in and day out. And when it's not just about, from a UX perspective, it's not just about the user value, there's business value. It's like, it's a complicated kind of ecosystem. So for the book in building out sort of product operations, are you targeting the book at...

Denise (05:05.625)

Denise (05:15.638)
Yeah. Magic Product, yeah.

Mark Baldino (05:29.118)
senior level product management? Is it anybody in product? Is it people who really want to like build this more thorough practice? Is there anybody that is like, this is the role that is going to get the most value or is it you feel like it's a little bit holistic?

Denise (06:24.034)
Mm-hmm. So I'm going to reveal a little secret to you. I kind of went against my own advice when I work with clients. We start talking about products they're building and I say, well, who is this for? Well, kind of everyone. I'm like, if you serve everyone, you serve no one. So let's focus in. But we're kind of trying to serve everyone. So let me explain a little more. Part of the writing the book was about the fact that Melissa Perry and I would get a lot of the same questions. You know, like, what is it?

How do I need it? How do we implement it? What does that look like? What does good look like? And also, I don't know how to explain to my manager what product operations is and the value. So lots of emails, similar emails, and we're like, well, this could be a good resource for maybe a product manager, a VP or a CPO, Chief Product Officer, to hand to their CEO and say, here's what it is, and here's some actual case studies of companies that have implemented and really reaped some...

you know, specific and tangible rewards. It's also for the product manager thinking, wow, I'm spending a lot of my day writing scripts just to get data, just to start making decisions. There's gotta be a better way I've heard about this. And then also maybe the VP who's like, I may be able to earmark one resource for product operations, but how do I do it? What should I be focusing on? I've heard different things count as product operations. So.

It's really those different use cases. So I hope that we've been able to sort of address each one. And it was a little bit of a tightrope trying to think of appealing to each audience.

Mark Baldino (07:59.114)
Well, somebody who's not in product but works with product every single day, I found it extremely valuable from a designer role. So I think you did hit that. What are some triggers within an organization of its time to operationalize our product team?

Denise (08:03.77)

Denise (08:14.71)
Yeah. So in the book, one of the folks we talked to for a case study, Blake Samick, he's been really kind of at the forefront of product operations. He established it at Uber and then did the same thing at Stripe. And now he's at Opening Eye and doing the same thing. And we spoke to him about his experiences. He hadn't yet gone to Opening Eye when we chatted with him, but about establishing it at Uber and like, well, what was that tipping point? You know, what made you guys realize? And he said, just as we were scaling so rapidly,

the disconnects were just getting bigger and bigger with, you know, business side, development side, product side, and they were not aligning. So things were getting done, but not necessarily in the most impactful way. Communications were starting to slip, you know, thinking about what we're delivering versus, you know, sort of laddering up to the strategy that may not be happening. I'm speaking more generally now. So it's really, if you're thinking about what you hired your product managers for,

And that is like creating value, achieving business growth, aligning well with your stakeholders. If they're spending more time not doing that, then that's probably a sign. And that's typically someone writing scripts to even get the data out, which seems so arcane to me, but you'd be amazed how many companies are still in this state. Folks that are spending all day sort of with intake for triage, intake for ideas, a customer

They had a sales debt customer commit, things that sales say they can't sell unless you build these things. Right. 1200 requests. And they just were like, boop, boop. And it's like, well, what's sort of the threshold of adding these? So, it's about thinking, how do we put some, someone used this word yesterday, I was teaching a master class for product operations, a container around it, some sort of structure.

Why are you asking for this? What is the outcome they're trying to, you know, hope to get with this? Just a little bit of friction before people are just throwing things over the fence. So that's one example. It's really about getting towards surrounding our PMs with all of the enablement they need to make faster and better decisions. So if they're taking a long time even to make those decisions, that's a sign.

Mark Baldino (10:32.526)
focus on.

Mark Baldino (10:36.214)
Yeah, that's a great one. And probably there's a lot of pain associated with that visceral pain with decision-making or lack of decision-making, not just within product, but all the other groups, including business and sales and marketing and technology. Everyone that reports up to the CTO or the C-suite, everyone in the C-suite is going to be feeling that pain. So that's an acute one. And I love, so first of all, love that you have these vignettes, these sort of real stories.

Denise (10:48.791)

Mark Baldino (11:05.262)
or vignettes, I should say, you have case studies, then you have these vignettes of people. And it's just a great kind of mental tool to get into the head space of kind of, you know, people who are struggling with some of the challenges. And you spend time at the beginning of the book, which is so great, which is like, how do you, about the business case and how you sort of make the business case for product operations. And so seeing pain in your organization, seeing lack of decision-making, seeing misalignment, some growth of scale.

Denise (11:07.387)
So yeah.

Denise (11:23.802)
Thank you.

Mark Baldino (11:33.858)
And then somebody says I want to operationalize something. And then you include a bunch of pushbacks that you might get from the C-suite. But you eventually get into the data component, which I would love to talk about. But summarize that sense of what do you need to do if you're in product leadership and you feel like you're seeing the warning signs, flashing red for you, and you have to go and make that case to say, we need to operationalize this. What does that conversation look like? And what does that mean?

Denise (11:41.849)

Mark Baldino (12:02.518)
data do we need as product leaders or do they need as product leaders to approach those in charge or executives to make this case?

Denise (12:10.858)
I think you hit it on the headmark with data. So I was chatting with a large company based in Denmark the other day, and they want to introduce product operations. And they kind of shared some slides that they were preparing to share with their VP of product. And I said, I think you might want to include the actual pain points. And if you can actually see how that manifests in revenue lost, money left on the table.

efficiencies that are impacting the way people work with satisfaction with the culture. Those are the ways that you want to be able to sort of tangibly show here are the challenges, here's the impact, and here is what we suggest and how we sort of phase it in a very sequenced way to start addressing some of these, see if we can get some quick wins and start building. So it's really about pointing out.

really the fails in the most positive way. But here are some challenges that we've had PMs leave because they don't feel like they have what they need to do their job well.

Mark Baldino (13:17.054)
I have a continual sort of, I don't want to say it's a challenge, but I feel like that the more designers and leaders speak about business value and speak the language of business, the better and more impactful they can be. And that is a real, it's a stretch. It's not something that a lot of designers learn as practitioners along the way. It's not something necessarily that's taught in school. There's a little bit more talking about it.

Denise (13:27.13)

Mark Baldino (13:46.498)
Do product managers feel comfortable talking about, speaking the language of business? Is that a stretch for them or is it comfortable for them to gather this data, put something together and kind of make that case? And obviously, you know, different people. So maybe I'm asking you to paint too broad of a brush, but.

Denise (14:02.822)
No, no, it's super relevant. And it was so funny. I was just messaging today with Giff Constable who teaches a class about financial fluency for product managers. And I'm like, finally, someone had needed, I'm not that person, but someone needed to write this book or teach this class. And I've mentioned it to a number of folks. And I see this a lot in my consultancy. I'll work with companies either on.

establishing product operations, doing sort of a maturity assessment there, or just sort of a product management assessment in terms of product maturity. And oftentimes, you know, the PMs will either over index in delivery, over index in strategic. Commercial tends to be that gap. And it's hard. If you've come from a technical background, you may not be sort of be able to speak that language. If you come from a design background, probably similar.

It's not something, there's not a lot of folks that come from the sales site. Some, but not a lot or from the biz dev site. So it's just kind of a, um, donut hole. I think that is inherent in this, this sort of archetype of people that take this role. Um, so absolutely. I think there's a challenge there as well. I highly recommend this class. I'm actually going to be auditing it soon, so I can hopefully speak to it more, but there's not a, there should be a book too. People need this literacy.

Mark Baldino (15:24.866)
No, within the show notes, obviously include LinkedIn and places. We'll talk about some places people can find you, but if you want to send me that link, I'll include that as well, because I just saw something on LinkedIn that was really, really similar. It was financial fluency for designers. And I was like, okay. And somebody was just like, hey, I think this is a need. And they were really just asking, which one of the things I love about LinkedIn is like, do people think this is an agenda that I could teach a course on? Is this of interest? And people were like 100% and gave some feedback.

Denise (15:41.176)
Oh, that's good.

Mark Baldino (15:56.246)
I think the market right now, broader macro market, micro finances, it's strained right now. And I think when designers, product managers, leadership within those groups can't align themselves with business goals, I think it gets easy to... I shouldn't speak for product, but I think sometimes for design. It gets easy to discount the value.

and it looks like, oh, we're just spending too much time doing this. And I think a lot of design leaders need to stretch into that space to speak to business, to speak the language of business, and to help their team understand that and be kind of fluent as well. Because I think individual contributors, they generally want to know how they're contributing to the broader picture at a business. And for designers, it's a lot about user value, right? And they don't always talk about

or think about business value. And I think product does more naturally. And I think that's a shared, that's like almost a shared language, business value that I think designers can do a better job with, design leaders can do a better job with. And product can do the same. And it's actually can be kind of a connection point between the groups.

Denise (17:04.185)
We'll agree.

Denise (17:12.238)
But to be able to sort of build on that for a UX designer to sort of present a concept and talk about the potential advantages and improvements that something might present, but to also be able to have that facility to talk about it from a business point of view, that's powerful. And if you're in sort of a room of decision makers, they're gonna listen, they're gonna listen. So I think that's great, I love that.

Mark Baldino (17:41.034)
100%. So I would love to talk. I mean, a lot of folks who listen to the podcast, you know, are in design leadership roles. I now feel like a lot of product and design in some organizations is kind of getting merged. And like, when I first heard about operationalizing things, you know, from like a technology perspective, it was like development ops. And then we've been talking at Fuzzy Math about UX operations or UX ops for a while with moderate success. And now sort of this sense of like,

Denise (18:04.739)

Mark Baldino (18:09.666)
the product operations. And I think it's interesting to hear these concepts, you know, when businesses, organizations are at scale. Do you worry about how, where the overlaps are, responsibilities, how DevOps, UX ops, product ops should work together, should not work together? I mean, what's your kind of take there? Is it, do you worry about that or is it like, oh, we'll figure it out?

Denise (18:27.539)
Mm-hmm. So, yeah.

Denise (18:34.518)
It's not a worry. I think it's more of an opportunity. And we talk about this in the book and I talk about this in the workshop that I teach, but you know, there's value in working together and not sort of working in a vacuum, but understanding, you know, where research ops may be sort of, you know, owning and sort of leading the charge and where product ops, uh, again, maybe leading charge and, and acknowledging that sort of overlap. Um, and then. Presenting to the organization, like

this is the United Front and here's how we're making sure enablement at large organizational excellence is really being supported. And I think the different ops teams can be a great resource to each other too, in terms of, you know, sharing ideas, sharing fails, sharing wins, venting. So they can actually be like operational super friends, if you will. So, and I've seen that in a couple of companies. So I don't worry about it. I see it as an opportunity and honestly,

Some folks have come to me and like, oh, we have N jobs and we have design ops, but we're thinking of making it all product ops and putting it under that. Okay, I guess. So I'm seeing some of that. Yeah.

Mark Baldino (19:43.566)
Yeah. That's interesting. Do you think it can be that... I mean, you said shared superpower. I mean, do you have an opinion that product ops can be the larger umbrella to research design DevOps, like your engineering ops? Or should it be the superset and others fall within it, or should they be parallel or maybe whatever works best with an organization?

Denise (20:06.298)
I think whatever works best for that organization, I think more heads are better than one. And I really feel like DevOps is kind of a sort of special, unique thing. I see research and design ops having more commonality, I think, with product ops. Um, I don't think it matters how it happens. And that comes up sometimes too, with clients of like, well, we have a data science team. So I guess we don't need support there. I'm like, doesn't mean product ops has to generate it. You just need to figure out how to harness it and put it in that lens for product managers.

So that's really what it's about.

Mark Baldino (20:39.25)
Yeah, fair enough. And I feel like when we're doing design or UX ops, I totally agree. I feel like the research is a big component that is a good overlap. I want to dive into that in a second. And then when we're dealing with engineering, we start to do design systems. So when we're systematizing the design, that's an area where it's like engineering ops or DevOps sort of overlap. So maybe the Venn diagram, maybe somebody did the Venn diagram, maybe that's a great visual for moving forward, is where do these operational components...

Denise (20:48.366)

Mark Baldino (21:06.334)
overlap because I always think it's important to be clear about, you know, we are owners here versus we're contributors here, and that gives all the groups a sense of like, okay, we have shared buy-in. I can contribute, I can give feedback, but at the end of the day, it's, let's say, it's the responsibility of design to run research. And then we're going to share it out in a fashion, and maybe product has part of that synthesis is owned by product, which is maybe aligning the business failure, for example.

Denise (21:15.487)
Oh, good.

Denise (21:33.314)

Mark Baldino (21:34.038)
And the same way as opposed to introducing one more group, and it feels like, oh, there's a disconnect between these. It's like, where can we find some of the overlaps that feel really comfortable for people, still give them the lane to play in and own, but also feel like we're contributing to something cohesive? And I do feel like the first part, I think it's one of the first sections in your book, is around data and aligning data. You even do like, you get some visuals, you have a table of the data elements and the problems they kind of solve and what you should be looking at. You then actually like lay out a dashboard.

Denise (21:54.213)

Mark Baldino (22:03.254)
All of that, to me, I talk about a lot with companies trying to increase the UX maturity within their organization. I just feel like the data component is so important, maybe hard to get right, but I want to give you both real kudos for laying it out really clearly. This is why you need to work with data. This is actually literally how you can present it. It's kind of a practical guide. I haven't necessarily seen, in terms of how to lay out this...

data in a cohesive fashion so it speaks up the chain of management and down to the team and stuff like that. So it's not just really, and I guess I'm just saying Denise, it's not really

Denise (22:39.93)
Well, definitely kudos to Melissa for sure on that. We both have worked on that, but it's amazing the blind spots sometimes people have about their audience and what they care about. And especially the further you get up, they don't care about the release. They don't care about the features. They wanna understand the value. They wanna understand what the resourcing looks like. I have a roadmap template where it's just literally like infrastructure 10%, innovation 30%, BAU 40%, don't make me add those up.

And that's so powerful because people are like, wow, you really understand where your resources are going and being intentional about it. So, and you should know, right? We should know.

Mark Baldino (23:21.314)
Yeah, 100% we should know. If you're working in an organization, we'll just use design and product as two groups. And are there areas that we can align each other to help operationalize, or I should say align with one another? You mentioned kind of the superpowers. We talked about, I don't know if research is one or finding some sort of, excuse me, use case or proof of concept.

Denise (23:45.358)

Mark Baldino (23:47.202)
The only thing that you've seen an example where design and product are working really closely together and they're actually making this case for how we should operationalize our efforts more than just doing the work, but actually with this goal of being more efficient as we can sort of scale the organization.

Denise (24:03.542)
Right. I'll use research ops as an example. So most companies, show me one that doesn't have one of our case studies fidelity. They have so many UX researchers. I've never seen that many at any other company. But most companies, that's a very precious resource. There's not very many UX researchers. So either product managers can get in line and wait a year, or UX research can help them learn how to fish, right? Teach them to fish. So I would see some sort of

of collaboration where you sort of think from, you know, the lowest end to the highest end of research complexity and figuring out what's that sort of tipping point where you should be working with research ops and research and getting in line and waiting versus what are the things I can solve myself, but we'll give you the tools to do that. So at Fidelity, they actually have people take a class, the PMs, to get sort of.

qualified in how to do that, which I think is great because it's garbage in, garbage out. Otherwise, if you don't really know how to apply the principles. I would think that would be a great area of just thinking about from a spectrum and the area that product could DIY it and then where that needs to be handled in a more cohesive way with the UX research team. I hear that a lot. Well, we are in line and we never got it, so we just went ahead and...

just did the work without doing any research. So, yeah.

Mark Baldino (25:31.402)
Right. And then what comes, as you said, garbage in, garbage out, what then comes back from product, went to other groups, or you bring it back to design and they're like, we didn't do any research and we didn't have the time to do any research. And then that creates a weird sort of tension. I mean, again, I'll paint a broad pressure. My best projects at Fuzzy Mouth with our clients are when we have like insanely tight connection and collaboration with product. And some of the times we've struggled is when there's sort of a gap there. And so I think we can always find ways to

to work more closely together. And I do think, you know, I think a lot of the user centered or human centered design process is translatable to other groups or humans. I think it's one of its greatest powers is that other people can learn it. It's also at times it can dilute the quality of the work. So we kind of, that's why operationalizing things are important. But I 100% I've been in hundreds of research sessions alongside.

Denise (26:04.16)

Mark Baldino (26:30.082)
product managers, and I think they do a great job. There's nothing to say they couldn't do a better job. I think that there's a role for maybe more formal research and things where you're doing these like maybe a longitudinal study. But I do think that there are standard operating procedures that design can create, training courses, amazing. And just sharing that knowledge of like, these are the things to watch out for when you're doing design research. This is input, output is really, really important. Let's all make sure this goes in the same output. And I think when...

Denise (26:47.105)

Mark Baldino (26:59.638)
designers get out of their own way and say that this is somebody else can own part of this. When I've seen the output come back with the proper, you know, sort of like, guidance and guidelines, it's actually really empowering to have other people out there talking to customers or users and getting that feedback because then it doesn't feel like it's... Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Denise (27:19.338)
Well, products should be doing that. It shouldn't be secondary all the time. So another area I see a lot of opportunity is some sort of research database. So many product managers, if they're doing the work, then the recording sits on their hard drive. So what would that look like to actually atomize these things and cue points and tag them? And some more mature research, I think teams have this, but...

How can we sort of work together to make sure these things are being leveraged across all of the product teams, all of the design teams, and maybe even the business teams too might find some of these insights useful.

Mark Baldino (27:57.638)
100%. I really am sharing the book with my design team because I feel like there's a ton of components we end up talking about and you all have systematized it. And even if it falls under product operations or it doesn't matter, there's a lot of really great best practices in the book that I think can help align teams. So I want to give you a little bit of a parting words or anything that we didn't cover or is there something really important about product operations or the book that you want people to sort of walk away knowing or learning or investigating?

Denise (28:35.534)
Yeah, I think especially right now, and you sort of alluded to this earlier in the economic climate, we're seeing layoffs and product operations, let's face it, is a cost center, right? But one that provides leverage that's hopefully generating more revenue for the team disenabling. But it's short-sighted for companies to let go of these product operations. You have fewer resources. This is absolutely the time to understand how we're utilizing them, is it paying off? If you, I will speak to a large music platform company that had a lot of layoffs at the end of last year. And the CEO had a long memo to the staff and it was published in the Wall Street Journal and talked about the fact that they had lost their way and they were too focused on work about the work and they needed to focus on the work.

Sounds OK. Does that move you towards the build trap where you're building to build and not necessarily focused on the value? Mind you, this company did not have a huge investment in product operations anyway. I did speak to the one person they had who got let go. But you think about it like that, I think the pendulum will swing where people are like, oh, we have a lot of people, but are we building the right things? Are we using what resources we do have in the most valuable way to generate

business outcome and better outcomes for customers. So I think that will probably come up to pass.

Mark Baldino (30:09.09)
I won't try to summarize what you just said because I think it was succinct in terms of like this is the value of investing and operationalize your product management process. So well said. Yeah, yeah, of course. And so as I mentioned before the book, I will include a link to where people can purchase the book. Yeah on Amazon and obviously to your LinkedIn. Where else can people find you?

Denise (30:11.126)

Denise (30:20.378)
Yes, all the more important now.

Denise (30:28.258)
Yeah, Amazon.

Denise (30:35.582)
Oh gosh, LinkedIn is probably the best way, or I have a website,, if you're interested in learning more about product operations. Yeah.

Mark Baldino (30:45.258)
And then you do, obviously the book, but in consulting gigs and teaching and that sort of stuff is that.

Denise (30:50.614)
Yeah, I just wrapped up a long engagement with Bloomberg and I've worked with companies like Sam's Club and a number of healthcare and life sciences. I had no background in that, but that's how it's ended up. But working with them in establishing product practices, understanding product maturity, where do their product managers sit in terms of a maturity scale and how can we sort of leverage

what's going well and then sort of support them to become even better product managers. And then also working with companies, do you need product ops? What would that look like? How would you staff it? And coming up with a design sprint to understand where the needs are and then helping them put together a plan. So yeah, it's fun. Yeah.

Mark Baldino (31:35.746)
Fantastic. That's awesome. Well, thank you for your time today. Thanks for writing a book, which is a fabulous resource for design leaders and product management, up and down the sort of the communication chain. So thank you again for being on the podcast and sharing your knowledge. We'll make sure we have plenty of ways for people to reach out to you, Denise.

Denise (31:57.882)
Great, thanks so much. Cheers.

Mark Baldino (31:59.426)
Thank you.
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