Shaking Things Up in a Sleepy Company with GoPro Fmr Senior Director of Product

This week Product School hosted Adam Silver, Former Senior Director of Product at GoPro, for an #AskMeAnything session. Adam discusses different Product Management tools and approaches such as strategy, framework and delivering value. He also gives advise on how to start a PM career.

Adam Silver Frm Sr. Director of Product at GoPro

Meet Adam Silver

Adam has years of experience envisioning new initiatives, driving new product strategies, seeking out strategic partnerships, and building new teams from the ground up. With a technical education as his foundation, he started out in sales before moving into Product Management and then team leadership. Currently, Adam is a Product Strategy Advisor and Product Manager Mentor, helping executive teams with product ideation and strategy, and providing coaching/mentorship for Product Management professionals.

Strategy, Tools and Execution

What do you think is the essence of product strategy? And how do you reach one in a limited amount of time?

Fundamentally, the essence is to define products that will be successful!  That’s a bit of a fluffy answer, but at a macro level, that’s it. In terms of limited time… I would suggest leveraging the collective knowledge of the entire team.  Trust me – there are lots of great product ideas already in the minds of your colleagues – in ALL departments.

What are your thoughts on product management for a tangible product versus a SaaS product?

The short answer is “many”!  But, I’d say that the process is fundamentally different.  Hardware (tangible) products are better suited to clear definition upfront and a waterfall process and Software products are {usually} better suited to an Agile process. There are always going to be exceptions to this, but generally this holds true. 

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How would you identify knowledge gaps in GTM teams and how would you best address these gaps?

I’d say simply – take the time to sit with people on your GTM teams and train them on the product.  If there’s wide demand for knowledge – set up a “lunch and learn” – and you provide the food (people always show up for free food – especially if there are chocolate chip cookies!)

You might also be interested in: How Uber, Groupon, & Comcast Used Corporate Training to Succeed

How do you go about making decisions about hardware? Do you follow a framework that combines hardware and software?

The situation at GoPro was somewhat unique for the reasons I mentioned already – visionary CEO, etc.  In terms of the specific choice of components (camera processor, WiFi silicon, etc) – that was for the hardware engineering team to decide. The Product Management team was there to ensure the product requirements were clearly articulated.

Any tips for driving products and demonstrating the value of product management at a conservative company?

You have a great opportunity ahead of you. If you’re in a sleepy company then shake things up a bit!  Get to know your teams (all departments) and set up some events – lunch and learns – share knowledge, solicit ideas, etc. You are the CEO of your product – go make something spectacular happen!

You might also be interested in: When Saying “No” Adds Value

What is the driving force for a Product Manager and a key skill that enables a PM to deliver value to the organization? What are your tips to build on those skills sets?

The main driving force is passion and enthusiasm (well, I guess that’s 2 forces!)  A key skill set is domain expertise – you must know your product area inside out and understand it from the customer perspective. 

Tip: learn your product and be enthusiastic!

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Breaking into Product Management

What inspired you to shift from sales to Product?

Simply put – my passion for products and technology – especially in the area of digital video… super exciting stuff during the era of the shift from analog to digital (that makes me feel old!)

Do you have any suggestions for newbies looking to break into Product?

 Lots of great resources online, including {of course} Product School! Read as much as you can – books, articles, etc.

You might also be interested in: Free Online Resources for Product Managers

What’s the best way to get myself an interview for a PM job?

The best advice for this is to try to meet people in person. Trade shows are best for this – but COVID has screwed that up, unfortunately. Also try using InMail on LinkedIn to get directly in contact with the key person you’re seeking to connect with. Endlessly sending in CV’s online is a waste of time.

Want to learn more from experienced Product Managers? Join us next week for another #AMASession!

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