Lenny Rachitsky | Lenny’s Podcast – Nikita Miller (The Knot, Trello)
Nikita Miller is a product leader, angel investor, and advisor. She has built and led product teams at companies ranging from early-stage startups to multinationals, and she is currently SVP of Product Management at The Knot Worldwide.
Nikita is passionate about scaling product teams to support high-growth businesses and was a product leader at Trello and Atlassian for five years.
Advice for product managers
- Don’t solely focus on outcomes, remember that output is an indicator of success. Balance the two and ship products quickly. Align roles and responsibilities within teams, work effectively as a remote team, and ask the right questions to get the most out of your team.
- Understand your team’s needs and choose a tool that suits your current project stage. Identify core features that add value to the majority while allowing for customization for specific needs. Remember to consider the emotional stakes and pressures involved.
The best way to get promoted is to do the job that you want to get promoted to.
The most important thing for remote teams is to have overlapping work hours. You need to have at least four hours of overlap every day
Defining team roles
Clearly defining team roles and responsibilities through a contract can prevent misunderstandings and identify areas for potential responsibility shifts, ultimately strengthening the team’s overall performance.
Defining shared responsibilities within product teams can improve efficiency and execution velocity. Regularly revisiting the framework and focusing on decision-making speed and actionable solutions can lead to successful product outcomes.
Breaking up tasks into smaller pieces and articulating clear goals is crucial for effective delegation in team development. Balancing outcomes with execution velocity helps ship ideas quickly to market while maintaining a sense of urgency.
Balancing optimization and big bets depends on company growth. To increase team output, focus on actual output rather than plans.
Successful product management
Product management is a diverse and growing field, with opportunities for professionals from different backgrounds. While technical skills are valuable, they are not always essential, and there are various paths to becoming a successful product manager.
Success in product management requires optimizing priorities, sprinting during critical periods, and taking time to recharge. Balance between work and life is key, with flexibility provided by tech companies.
The most underrated product management skill is communication. Communication is not just about talking, it’s about listening, understanding, and empathizing.
The best way to build trust with your team is to be transparent and honest. You need to share your wins and failures and ask for feedback.
The communication process
- Good communication, documentation, and trust are key for remote teams, while in-person meetings are invaluable for complex problem solving. A structured agenda can ensure productive in-person meetings, and occasional get-togethers can build camaraderie and strong teams.
- Create communication processes and ensure overlap in working hours for collaboration. Onboard new hires by sharing the same foundation. Foster creativity and build a culture where ideas can come from anyone, across geographies and functions. Share responsibility for building together.
Choosing the right project management tool
When it comes to project management tools, Trello is ideal for small teams that are still ideating and brainstorming, while Jira is better suited for established projects with defined tasks that need to be assigned.
However, building productivity software is challenging because users have different needs and expectations, even within the same team. It’s important to identify core features that will benefit the majority of users, while still allowing for customization and flexibility for those who have specific needs.
Whether building for product managers or people planning their weddings, it’s essential to understand the emotional stakes and pressures involved in the project.