Delivery Hero largest global food network outside of China, with more than 4 million food orders a day operating in 600 cities across the world. With brands like Food Panda they are a food global powerhouse you probably haven’t heard of as they don’t have a US or UK presence.
Curtis talks about planning product for many languages, countries and brands. How to be an expert at not being an expert and the importance of being upfront with the senior team.
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NB this is auto generated so excuse the computer idiosyncrasies.
[00:00:00] [00:00:00] Joe: [00:00:00] tell me a bit about you, who are your kind of your, Your journey, how, how have you ended up where you are today?
[00:00:05] Curtis: [00:00:05] Yeah, sure. No problem. maybe, can work backwards. So at the moment I’m a senior product manager at delivery hero. looking out for a few of our teams internally, primarily kind of client platform teams. Part of that, I was at hello, fresh, again, as a senior product manager, looking primarily at kind of, how people pick the meals, trying to see you can get them to get a few more boxes with us.
[00:00:24] Sure. It a lot of fun. I actually started my career in tech, but more enterprise it. So it was a service manager for Alsace and the BBC. And the way I describe the service manager, she take all the resources, things about product management and put them to one side where you’re kind of left with is, is service management.
[00:00:39] But I actually loved it. I always loved that kind of setting between the business and technology and how can you enable the organization to be more successful? so that’s sort of my story. I actually got into product management. Like most people seem to in a bit of a sideways way. when I was at, I wanted to save, do my masters and there was this little quirky food style, two in London that wanted customer care agents at 10, 10 pounds an hour, when you do [00:01:00] that.
[00:01:00] And so a few opportunities to improve processes, small little internal application. And then yeah, asked if I’d be interested in being the product manager, product owner in Berlin for the customer care and success team. And I was like, mm, what is a product manager? They’re Googling later? I was like, no, it sounds like a lot of fun.
[00:01:15] And that was actually. How I moved into product and then I’ve been in Bella in the last few years.
[00:01:20]Joe: [00:01:20] tell us a bit about, Delivery Hero and then, so maybe not all our listeners are familiar with, with Delivery Hero. Talk me through who they, who you are.
[00:01:27] Curtis: [00:01:27] Yeah, not a problem. So yeah, totally hero self doesn’t deliver anything.
[00:01:31]it’s actually a kind of a portfolio company of a number of different brands. So depending on where in the world you are, you may have heard of brands like food ponder for Dora at yum, except in Turkey, Taliban, middle East, for example. And there’ll be here is kind of the parent organization of all those.
[00:01:43] We, we aim to, we aim to focus some local, which is why we have all these local brands and not just one. Global brand. and we are pretty big. We’re shipping currently to 4 million orders a day across our global, a global company. It’s pretty cool. food doing food delivery. So we’re taking orders, IRR, and then, having kind of time [00:02:00] in, in restaurants, they can, they can fulfill these orders outside and then with a logistics fleet of writers to go and help clinic connect those to the customers.
[00:02:07] So, yeah, really cool product, really cool companies, tech.
[00:02:11] Joe: [00:02:11] And so some of the markets, you mentioned that, do you, do you operate in any of the markets maybe I’ll list on or so UK, U S do you distribute here, operate neither of those two?
[00:02:19]Curtis: [00:02:19] no, we don’t actually, we primarily, we promoted focusing the ones, I think, first few years.
[00:02:23]you’re kind of a bit of a battleground because one of the big names, so takeaway.com just eat. I think actually a couple of years ago, living here has sold the German operations for about a billion Euro deal. so we exit those markets, you know, focusing on our, some of our other markets now.
[00:02:38]Joe: [00:02:38] which of the markets you’re focusing on.
[00:02:40]Curtis: [00:02:40] . I work primarily with Foodora and Food Panda, so fedora, kind of sets in a lot of our, not a lot of countries. any listens that you have in a Czech Republic or Hungary we’re working with, With a net pincer and the meal, and then obviously food ponder primarily in kind of Bulgaria Marinia.
[00:02:56] And then a lot of the APAC countries are Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, for [00:03:00] example. And so there, the, the, the, the, the teams and the runs I work primarily with, I still get to chat to my colleagues in Taliban payer, for example, but not working directly with the customers in those
[00:03:08] Joe: [00:03:08] markets. Okay, so delivery here then it’s kind of a global food delivery organization that operates lots of local brands in individual countries.
[00:03:16] And typically then it sounds like your bigger markets are Scandinavia central Europe and parts of Southeast Asia. Is that, is that fair to say the biggest markets you work across?
[00:03:27] Curtis: [00:03:27] The ones I work in yeaah, definitely. Asia, we’re growing incredibly quick. it’s a really exciting time to work with, with, with our customers over there.
[00:03:33] So a lot focusing, a lot of investment there. yeah.
[00:03:37]Joe: [00:03:37] which of the two products that you manage as part of that then?
[00:03:41] Curtis: [00:03:41] So I’m growing a little bit of a, a group of teams. So we kind of, for the area I look after as a group kind of informally termed client platform.
[00:03:49] So it’s really about looking at a number of internal teams that designed to enable and make other teams internally more successful. So think of a thick cover things like team we have called client info. [00:04:00] That is a web iOS and Android. Really looking at what is kind of the overall architecture or app.
[00:04:05] You know, we now have hundreds of developers, how can we improve that productivity? How can make sure our app is stable and performance. So they look at that and the enabling function, also into that, I guess you’ve got test automation. So making sure that we can ship high quality code without, without any areas of books.
[00:04:19]another side of that as a team, we have called design engineering. So our team called kind of a UI platform team, really looking at how we make it, car designers and developers more, more productive in terms of the tools they’re using and also make sure we have a nice standard layer in a UI platform.
[00:04:34] Again, like as, as we grow, that the part of the organization I work in now, we’re talking hundreds of developers and designers and just making sure that they have the tools they need to be successful and they can focus on the past, the organization and the customers and the business metrics they need to focus on without having to worry about kind of the things on the hook we want to be there for them.
[00:04:52] And then the final team that I look up to is a team called homescreen and navigation. Again, looking at the overall navigation architecture of our app, and [00:05:00] then the first screen that the customers see when they open the app. So I was looking at, yeah, it’s time for interactive. And then once the app is open, what do our customers have access to?
[00:05:07] And how did they start that journey in the app?
[00:05:11] Joe: [00:05:11] Wow. So that’s really quite a diverse set of a portfolio of products. You’ve got that. So a lot of internal enabling tools to make sure that the teams across all the individual countries, you’ve got the team, the tools they need to do better at work, as well as some of the standardized functions for the apps as well.
[00:05:29] Curtis: [00:05:29] Yeah, that’s completely correct. That’s complete. Correct? I think, yes. As I said, we’re now running in the numbers of hundreds, kind of the tech and product team. I think as organizations grow, right, what, what worked at one X doesn’t work at five X and 10 X. And I think you start to see those come through.
[00:05:42] So there’s been a lot of focus recently or of last year from kind of our leadership to say, right? How do we build these kind of internal platform teams? We normally talk about platform in terms of like server infrastructure. There’s actually a lot more. We can do that to make all of the teams and our other colleagues much more successful.
[00:05:56] And it’s a really interesting problem. Space are obviously, our users and our customers are [00:06:00] kind of our internal colleagues and how can we enable them so they can enable our customers. It’s a lot of fun.
[00:06:04]Joe: [00:06:04] And so we’re talking about product decisions today. Can you tell me about a recent product decision that you have been involved in making or that you’ve had to make yourself.
[00:06:13] Curtis: [00:06:13] Yeah, absolutely. it was a great question. I had, I had a bit of a think about this. I think I’ll probably wanna focus on just one of our teams, which I would call, we call homeschool navigation. So as I mentioned, it’s that the first, first screen customer see when they open the app. And the big question is like, what, what should a customer see on that screen?
[00:06:27] Right. So obviously you. They were mostly known for restaurant delivery, but actually were expanding two different what we call quick commerce. So the ability to pop up the app and you can order food from your favorite restaurant, you can order food for collection. Also ordering things like your groceries, pharmaceuticals or toilet paper.
[00:06:43] So this is kind of the quick commissary, right? We’re in and we’re exploring. but obviously interest is a kind of navigation Springs. So what, what do we show on the home and what is the most important thing? and that was a big decision. And I think my short answer, this is actually I deferred making this decision because of how we built it.
[00:07:00] [00:06:59] And that was a big thing at time. Like, you know, the original conversation was like, what do we show here? We don’t know. And the idea that, you know, as, as I said, where we fulfill 4 million orders a day, the idea that we can have a homescreen that supports all of our users is it it’s misleading. And I don’t presume to have that knowledge.
[00:07:16] Obviously we have different, Different service lines, different offerings. and I don’t have the depth of knowledge and all those products, sun, what is the right thing to show with? So what we decided to do, actually, we decided to build the homescreen as a platform. So instead of hard coding exactly what the home screen should be, into the app, we built it as a backend platform service.
[00:07:33] So the app is dynamic. It listens to the response from our hosting service. And fulfills based, sorry. It listens. It makes you home screen service and the homogeneous service based on what it knows, what it understands about this, this customer. And what’s available to that customer. It will show things in a different way, different priority.
[00:07:50]and what that means is we can always be quite responsive to their group of customers that are looking at a given time, also in pens, a lot flexibility to our colleagues in the organization. Again, kind of what I mentioned was like, I [00:08:00] don’t know what the exact thing to show for our customers are with.
[00:08:02] I’ve met a number of product colleagues in different product teams. Knowing those areas in a lot more detail. So the idea being to enable them to come together and leverage the platform. So almost democratization of decisions, instead of trying to be a gatekeeper and understand actually broadly, what, what, you know, what does do our customers want?
[00:08:20] I don’t know. So let’s work on that together. Let’s democratize that decision and that was a big step for us. I think saying you’re going as a product manager, someone says, Felicia says, what’s the homescreen gonna have on it. And I go. I don’t know. but this is how we’re going to approach it. We want this platform concept.
[00:08:34] We want to, enable other teams to, to, to drive that content on that. And I think that went down really well. Also had a benefit as well in terms of how we think about performance, because we have one estimate, one request can come back and, we can make decision in one place.
[00:08:50]Joe: [00:08:50] So is this the idea that you did the concepts behind how you designed the new home screen in the app was that you wanted to enable the local product teams to be able to decide what they should be on there for their local [00:09:00] markets to give them a platform, to be able to do it rather than dictating to them from that kind of central office, that this is the way that they should do it.
[00:09:07]Curtis: [00:09:07] it’s a huge question quickly as, as our business opens into new service lines and new offerings, it’s really hard to keep up with that. and your, the benefit as well as it really helps with our kind of time to market. It’s about time to value. And obviously one part of that is the time to market.
[00:09:19] How quickly can we build the thing? And the other part of that is, is it the right thing to build? we’re trying to decouple this from, for example, the app release process, and we have two week release cycle trying to decouple that so we can, learn quickly release quickly, run tests. That was a big thing.
[00:09:33]I think, I think it was the answer that a lot of our kind of leadership expected when he said, what’s the homescreen gonna be? I said, I don’t know, but this is how we want to approach it. it went down really well and we’ll get some good traction with it.
[00:09:44] Joe: [00:09:44] So what informed that decision? What were the inputs to it?
[00:09:48] Curtis: [00:09:48] I think there’s a few things. So I, my mode of operation generally for decision making is democratization. I understand as a product manager I am a generalist. There’s going to be very rare. I know the most out of anybody in that room, [00:10:00] I think as we start to come together and we looked at just the diversity of opinions that we needed to try and build this homescreen, it seemed more manageable to come to a conclusion decision.
[00:10:09] It was going to be one of those things. It’s just very complex. because of the broad nature of what this screen was meant to do, right. Particularly as we weave into different service offerings. So I think one of the things I realized. Early on was how hard it was to get all the people I needed into one room to me was a signifier.
[00:10:24] There’s a lot more underlying complexity. So that was one of the big things that, and also, I think just understanding how we as business want to position these different service lines. We know that traditionally the majority of our revenue has come from a restaurant delivery. How did these different service lines come in?
[00:10:40] As we think about quick commerce, it’s really hard. That’s not going to be the thing that I go. This is my decision. Here we go. We can, we can set the strategy for how these things. Get together and need to be actually, this is going to be a constant learning improvement. We need to make sure that we’re building this in such a way that we can quickly get a results understanding, and we can start to target that right.
[00:10:58] Was a big, big part of it. I was like, essentially [00:11:00] not knowing what the answer was and saying, okay, what do we have to build? So we can start to learn what the answers might be. This is plural, obviously as a set, cause it depends on the customer, or the segment of customers and the market. So we’re talking about, and the second thing for us was a big thing about what is our app.
[00:11:16] Performance is going to be, so obviously we work across a number of printers. Some of them have kind of a, maybe a less performance infrastructure, like telecoms infrastructure. The maybe though I’m used to hairstyle and Berlin. So thinking very much about what should that experience be. It’s very different.
[00:11:30] When you look at know the percentage of people that loading our app on two G or three G connections instead of like LTE. So thinking about, well, at the moment, when our upstart salt, we make all these different requests and all those different quests have to go across the entire network. What can we do?
[00:11:43] What can we do to simplify this? so I think there’s a couple of things there let’s simplify the amount of requests you have to make. So you’ve got a great customer service, but then also let’s make sure we empower our local teams because at the end of day, they’re much, much closer to our users and our customers there.
[00:11:55] So really thinking more, a little bit more longterm for us to answer an immediate question.
[00:12:01] [00:12:00] Joe: [00:12:01] I love that concept of that. You mentioned you, when you, when you tried to get everybody in a room, you realized that there are lots of people involved in this decision making. And that kind of was a big warning sign to you that this is not going to be an easy decision to make even the decision that could be made by that lots of large group of people.
[00:12:16] That’s a really interesting signal that, you know, that shows that perhaps you’re trying to tackle too much in one go, and I love the approach you took, where. You know, again, putting something out there, not knowing what the answer might be, but putting some tools out there to help you get to what that answer might be to help and enable the local teams to get to what the answer might be of what is displayed on that particular home screen.
[00:12:36] So I really liked those two ideas. They come together really nicely for that. ,
[00:12:39] it sounds to me as well that there may have been a challenge for you in advocating that choice. Cause it sounds like the expectation was is that you were going to dictate what was going to be on this home screen, across. The global suite of apps you manage, and then it came to the conclusion that actually that’s not what you were going to do.
[00:12:55] Did you have any challenge is advocating that across the organization? [00:13:00]
[00:13:00] Curtis: [00:13:00] I don’t think it was actually challenges. I think, when their expectations, one of, one of two things can happen, right? Is people are kind of normally looking for a certain outcome in what they’re trying to do now with expectations, you can come in and completely overwrite what those outcomes out of the chasing that can be quite tough.
[00:13:15] And there’s a misalignment thing, but I think what we actually ended up pitching was maybe not what they’re expecting in terms of seeing in terms of like, this is the mockup. With these entry points and these things that you can do on the screen, but actually what we did really kind of enabled them to get to that vision over a long period of time, with a lot more empowerment to local teams.
[00:13:32] So that went down pretty well. I am a huge fan of slide decks. So I’m one of those powerful people, but not in terms of like walls of texts, like, you know, hundred slides it’s really about, can you get 20 slides in that, that visualize and explain piece by piece why you’ve made these decisions? I think that was always a big thing.
[00:13:49] I, I often talk about doing. There’s a saying that don’t attribute to malice that you can attribute to incompetence. I don’t really like that saying because I think it assumes that you’re right and that everyone else is wrong, which is certainly not the case. I [00:14:00] tweaked that saying, to be don’t attribute to malice what you can attribute to misalignment.
[00:14:03] So the reason I’m a big, such a big fun of slide decks is you can actually digest and visualize in really kind of basic steps. Like, Hey, this is the problem with seeing these are, these are some of our assumptions that are underlying that, and then people can call out and actually that assumption is not correct.
[00:14:16] And you can have a meaningful conversation there. Stop where you get. Two fighting misaligned, and then you just take them through that story. Yeah. And I pulled this slide up together, along with my, engineering manager, Paul and we circulated it kind of, some of the markets got initial feedback. And then when we presented it to a broader group, it was kind of refined enough that people kind of follow the story for the message we were going through and was like, actually, yeah, this, this makes sense.
[00:14:38] And obviously that question is when can we get it? But I think that initial point of making sure we’re aligned in terms of the stretch, we wanted to go where it’s stretching, where we were going, but also the reason behind it, everyone could get on board with that.
[00:14:50]Joe: [00:14:50] So it sounds like you use the slide deck then to kind of use that as a way of telling the story across all of the local teams, as well as the senior stakeholders, it seems to senior management are involved with that [00:15:00] decision.
[00:15:00] So one slide deck that evolved over time as you were, I guess, presenting it and going through that with everybody that was involved in that quite complicated, quite, I suppose, large scale decision that had an impact across huge number of local businesses and a number of teams as well.
[00:15:16]Curtis: [00:15:16] that was the key thing there is that you just gave this communication a chance. Google slides, comment, feature on sending it out that and just let people come back and answer that queries. It should really be a conversation.
[00:15:25]Joe: [00:15:25] . Is that something you, do you follow for all of the decisions you make? I mean, is there kind of a special process that for example, you follow or that delivery hero follows in terms of kind of larger scale decision making
[00:15:34] Curtis: [00:15:34] like this. no, I don’t think there’s a, it doesn’t necessarily have a set process.
[00:15:40] The teams are really empowered to kind of present and present things, how they, like we have some, some dice things. So for example, you know, we have quarterly planning sessions where we have the every 45 teams. I think in terms of our ever the organization, we use the same template, what we tweak around the edges to communicate the message, There was another format.
[00:15:57] I think the reason I genuinely love [00:16:00] slide experts is that it helps me organize, articulate my thoughts as you go through that process, the forcing function of sitting down and creating a slide deck or some kind of artifact really give you the time and space to reflect on what am I articulating as well?
[00:16:14] What have I missed? And that’s happened to me in the past where I’ve done a slide that kind of half way through. I’m like, actually, this is. the way I’ve been communicating, this is terrible. And, and when you sit down, actually tried to document it. it lets you go back and I’m a big fan of analogies.
[00:16:25] And I think that’s a really good way of just kind of working through those, those thoughts and those thought processes. Yeah, no, there was a process. I think that when you’re in an organization, the cyber 45 scores, the idea that you can mandate a way of communicating, this is really tough. and I’ve, I’ve not seen.
[00:16:41] I think Delivery Hero has worked that out as well. The, you, you, you can’t impose that on a team. You, you have to give those teams flexibility to work with SD calls and the people interface with what does that, what is the best communication medium for them. Okay.
[00:16:55] Joe: [00:16:55] And talk, talk, it’s more, a bit more of these quarterly planning sessions that you sort of mentioned 45 squads [00:17:00] involved in that
[00:17:01]Curtis: [00:17:01] So one of the complexities that come to scale scale is one of those, one of those things, like we size, like it’s a great thing, but it’s supposed to be really tough. Like now there’s very few other times you can get together with, with such a broad group of like senior leadership and business leaders from across the business.
[00:17:14] And that’s kind of really got time to sit and to sell what you’re working on. I think one of the big things that we’ve learned over the pay of doing this, particularly as we grow and it is. Those sessions are not really, they’re not really the discussion point. Most of you discussions should have happened kind of primarily before hun.
[00:17:29] That’s a really good chance to say, listen, Hey, this is what our outlook is for the next quarter. So these are the key key problems that we want to focus on. These are the things that we’re, we’re thinking about doing it. The most of this conversation should really be free aligned before you go in. You don’t want to catch anyone I’ve got in front of that many people.
[00:17:46] So that was a big learning thing. I think some of our squads at the moment, playing around with the concept of doing a half year planning. And I think it’s always about how do you. How do you look at these processes? Again, particularly as you grow what works at one X doesn’t work, the Fiveworx isn’t like a 10 X, [00:18:00] about looking at what, what do we have to change now?
[00:18:02] And I think when we told them about decisions, decisions, and not just buying the products that we ship, it’s all about the people, the process and the technology underneath that. And I think one of the big ones, parts of our product managers, you actually get to influence a lot that, and it’s about thinking about how can we reevaluate and how do we change things in a sensible way.
[00:18:19]Joe: [00:18:19] So it sounds like that the quarterly, I suppose, planning sessions are more of a way of everybody sharing their progress together as a whole, I guess, getting all of the well there’s 45 squats together. So everybody’s aware of what’s going on. So rather than it being a decision making place, it’s more a way of just sharing what the team, what the, what the organization’s working on.
[00:18:38] And I like that point you’ve talked about in terms of, it’s sort of focusing on the key problems, you’re addressing that. The key problems you’re addressing, coming up as part of the business. I love the idea that it’s, rather than focusing on the detail, it’s more, what problems are coming up and here’s what we’re looking to do to try and solve them.
[00:18:53] Curtis: [00:18:53] I want to mislead it. Obviously the details still come up and we’ll, we’ll still end up talking a little bit about an Africa sign or a particular feature that we’ve already kind [00:19:00] of pre aligned on. Those things are going to happen. I think sometimes we would, there’s an idealized view that we would only talk about business problems, but there’s also, there’s a reality here.
[00:19:07] That information has to flow up and down and, particularly in a large organization, that’s always, it’s not always going to happen as organically as you want. So I think it’s okay. I think as long as everyone, as long as you as a team and when I say team, I mean not just individual product squatted product team, but the, you as a community of colleagues and a business, come out with the same understanding about what you want to go, where you want to go and roughly how you can do that.
[00:19:28] I think that’s the key thing. And I think that’s how you left for chip.
[00:19:31]Joe: [00:19:31] And so talk us through the, the squads. Then you sort of mentioned 45 squads. Is there a particular structure then at the organization of the product teams that deliver hero?
[00:19:41] Curtis: [00:19:41] Yeah, so, so I’m talking about just one part of our organization.
[00:19:45] So, in our global office, we have. three main groups, I guess you will. You’ll you could call them. So one is about really consumer and what is happening for kind of the local bar 300 fedora and insert meal, focusing on them. Then we [00:20:00] also have a, another two groups of teams that kind of focus really on writers and then the logistics side of it, and then all our vendors themselves.
[00:20:07] Cause remember delivering here as a platform, we don’t actually sell. Anything we have are all bent upon is either restaurants or grocery stores or stores generally. Sorry. And then we have our writers. I focus primarily on consumer. I think the organization’s grown very organically over time and we’ve, we’ve grown very quickly.
[00:20:24]I’ve been at delivery hero just over a year now. I think the team has doubled in size. Which is incredible achievement. we kind of have a few different groups. One is what we call foundation, looking at kind of a broad spectrum of things that support, various squads. I know that we have a, an area that we call shop, which is kind of 10, kind of called funnel is probably the best way to say it.
[00:20:44] And then we have a, another couple of tribes when we have called new business, which is kind of expanding and exploring different service lines. And then we have another one that’s called a discovery, which is really about how do we, raise awareness of, kind of. Parts of different service lines and kind of the early parts of funnel.
[00:20:59][00:21:00] again, I think there’s a, if you look at an organization map, you’re always gonna find those, this squats. Well, that doesn’t really make sense. I think that’s one of those things that you get with organic growth. And so I think always looking to work out how do these things make sense, but as a very high level structure of how we’re grouping teams together, we use kind of, yeah.
[00:21:15] Use the Spotify model to build on top of, and kind of be a terrain for kind of deliver here away. But the idea of a group of squads in a tribe focused on a similar mission is probably how people can visualize it. .
[00:21:25]Joe: [00:21:25] So that, that’s part of my mother’s quite fast, which wasn’t it? The squads and the tribes, like you say, focusing on missions.
[00:21:29] And I liked the way you talked about what the missions are at delivery hero as well, and how that, you know, as a platform, you’ve got quite unique sets of users operating customers, operating on different sides of that platform from customers to riders, to consumers, to other people too. So it’s a really interesting model of how the organization sets up.
[00:21:45] Oh, interesting. Okay. So we’ve, we’ve talked, A bit about that, that structure, then talk me through about culture. How do you think culture plays a part in the decision making process and the previously, obviously you’ve worked at other organizations too, like HelloFresh, and now you’re liberal hero. How has [00:22:00] culture played into decision making processes in your experience of your career?
[00:22:05]Curtis: [00:22:05] I mean, there’s, there’s that very famous thing, right? The culture eats strategy for breakfast, and I think the culture is such a key driver of it.
[00:22:12] Joe: [00:22:12] I
[00:22:13] Curtis: [00:22:13] think so the big thing I think I’ve always got out of this, I think it’s always been about trust and trust is this is a concept I’ve been playing around with a lot more, and it can be hard and it can be hard, particularly like, you know, so a lot of our kind of key stakeholders and our key business leaders, particularly ones that are looking after APAC, for example, sit in a completely different times.
[00:22:29] I mean, for us, we get, we got an overlap of a few days where you can’t do that thing where you can, you kind of bump into it and then go. Want to go grab a coffee. So I think really being explicit in trying to make sure your people you’re communicating what your, what you’re working on. I think one of the big challenges of any organization that gets to scale is how do you keep breaking down silos?
[00:22:47] Because humans are very good at this. We’re very good at putting ourselves. So this is our team. This is what we’re working on. And unfortunately, large organization that doesn’t work because you got all this extra overhead for an organization. Had all these extra or organizations trying to [00:23:00] open these communication channels.
[00:23:01]culturally, I think you have to, Furbish your leaders really happy focus on making sure that these silos are not building up and starting to knock them down. You see them, appear. and I think. That’s what I would, that’s what I’d be expecting from a leadership. And I’d also be expecting kind of a, what I would call a tactical operational colleagues so that the product managers like me are on the ground doing this.
[00:23:19] I would expect them to also be reaching out. the other thing, I think it’s always about trust. I’m saying we start with positive intent. I like to believe that every single one of my colleagues is operating in a way that they believe is best for the business. Now. That person and myself can have different ideas about how we should achieve that.
[00:23:37] But it goes back to the alignment, miss, misalignment. It’s about always trying to give people the benefit of the doubt and work through. that’s a big thing. I think the other thing as well, I think sometimes product managers, we talk a lot about empowerment and it’s really important thing. Like, you know, you’re essentially trusted with a group of engineers and engineers are expensive and you’re trusted to get some kind of ROI on this, this, this group of humans, which is briliant. It’s a really interesting challenge, but we also have to [00:24:00] acknowledge that particularly in large organizations, I, as a product manager, although I may have a broad understanding, I definitely don’t have the breadth of understanding that say my senior leadership will have, I definitely don’t have the depth of understanding that one of my PMs will have a focus on a particular area. So I think operating the fact that she, this all kind of stuff that we don’t know, and it’s really being comfortable with the fact that we don’t know lots of stuff and just being open to having those conversations.
[00:24:24] I think that’s right. A really key thing. something that definitely, I know, really important to our seat when I was at hello, fresh new, our CTO had this thing where he spoke about kind of the, the leadership and the operational teams and it’s this constant flow of information up and down, like, yeah.
[00:24:37] That leadership, just that strategy and guidance and false information, not forcing, pushing information down and in return they need, they need the operational teams to push information back. Like, what are the results? What are the impediments? And this, this conversation has to go up or down. There’s no one person in any organization, particularly when you get large, that has all the answers.
[00:24:55] The only way that it works seems to be, To be collaborative and it sounds really [00:25:00] cliche, but it, but it’s true. Like no one knows all the answers, so we really need to make sure we put, have trust first alignment first and then kind of move together as a team.
[00:25:10] Joe: [00:25:10] I love that concept of trust and alignment and how you’re right.
[00:25:14] It’s that experience. And we can probably all list. This can feel that experience of that, of the extra overhead of a dealer working across silos. And I loved your comment there about don’t put down to malice. What might just be around misalignment is that idea that everybody feels they’re doing the best for the business.
[00:25:29] They just might be slightly misaligned with that rather than I guess, taking it personally, which was a lot of people can do in those situations. And a great, another great point about. The breadth versus the breadth of understanding that the senior management have of how the businesses should be run versus the depth of understanding that the teams have got over the, the day to day operations.
[00:25:48] You sort of talked about the results, impediments feeding up and the vision and guidance coming down. So I love those, what that way of talking about what, an organization is that has kind of trust and empowerment. Built-ins, that’s a [00:26:00] really nice way of putting it.
[00:26:02]so we talked about culture then, and we talked about some of the decisions that have gone.
[00:26:06] Okay. Back to that decision, you talked about with the home screen, is that, is that live? Is that out there in the world now the new platform home screen
[00:26:14] Curtis: [00:26:14] it’s in, initial testing. this is possibly one of those, Support, one of the things that she, maybe that’s an interesting part of it. So if we’re saying it was, was it the right decision to approach it this way?
[00:26:24] Yes, but I think definitely looking back mean trying to get ourselves to the point that, we’ve built, we’ve built a platform, right. And that was never going to be a small undertaking. Was it as lean as it could have been? No, I think I had this conversation with my engineer manager last week. I’m sure.
[00:26:39] I think there’s looking back. There’s a few things we could’ve done differently. I think we had grand vision and sometimes when you have a grand vision, your scope can expand. I think looking back with a properly. Although we may not change the big decision about where we want it to go. I think we may have approached it a little bit differently, how we wanted to do that.
[00:26:55]some of it was complex, just technical that just rearchitect can the app around to letting you do this is one of the [00:27:00] complexities. I think with hindsight, we could have been a bit scrappier in terms of how we architected things. I think there’s some, there’s some better decisions that we could’ve made there.
[00:27:09]yeah, I mean, my main, my main reflection I’ve had recently over how the decisions that we’ve made.
[00:27:15] Joe: [00:27:15] I love that, that the concept we talked about there about grand vision vision equals grand scope. And you’re absolutely right. If the vision’s large, the scope is going to be large, the effort’s going to be large.
[00:27:23] The risk is going to be large associated with all of those great grand ways of exploring and explaining everything. Okay. And can you talk about any more perhaps decisions you’ve made early on in your career that haven’t, haven’t gone as well? Anything else you care to talk about in that regard?
[00:27:40] Curtis: [00:27:40] I think this may be slightly tangential to the question. So you can feel free to drag me back on talk if this is not right. But I think definitely earlier on in my career, I. I didn’t back myself in term, particularly I still can see allegiance. I could be very deferential and I undervalued, I undervalued what, [00:28:00] what my message should have been.
[00:28:00] And actually it wasn’t just with senior leadership. It was other people I, I never wanted to hurt someone’s feelings. I didn’t want to get ripped someone up the wrong way. I operate on a personal philosophy if I work hard and be nice to people. and I, I think I, early on in my career, And still do.
[00:28:13] I’ll be very honest. Great. I thought that meant that you can never have hard words with people. and then a few years ago, I read the book radical candor, which I think has been really popular recently. And it just made me realize that actually I was doing the only discipline myself, but I was into service and with the business and to my colleagues, by not being more vocal about the way that I thought about things.
[00:28:32] So the decisions I would have taken previously where I’d have been quiet or disagreed with someone. I’m now more confident in saying that and raising my piece that, and I can, I can, I don’t have to be an OSS and the way that I communicate these things, right. I can communicate them respectively, but my, my voice is important.
[00:28:47] I don’t have all the picture and it’s okay to say, listen, this might be a stupid question, but this might be shipper point. But, and then, and then leading in with what you’re saying, because I think, you know, and then the day. I’ve been hired to do a job. I, my opinion on this [00:29:00] topics matter. So I think one of the big things I’ve heard, I’ve making a conscious decision to do a lot more now is be more vocal in areas to make sure that that, that.
[00:29:09] The different perspectives or different opinions are there, or the people get the appropriate feedback. Again, this goes back a little bit to our CTO at Halifax said, right? You need to make sure you communicate impediments and results. And if I was filtering information, I was not, I was not giving our leadership or the people around me, the opportunity to really understand the broad picture because I was holding information back.
[00:29:29] Not because. Not for any malicious reason, but because I didn’t want to talk back. So I think that’s one of the big things I’ve had intents of my reflections and early decision making is deciding not to, not to appease, but actually be a lot more transparent with how I’ve talked to, to people.
[00:29:45] Joe: [00:29:45] So it’s having those difficult conversations, isn’t it?
[00:29:47] The senior leadership that are going to be hard. And that could be, for example, like you say, giving them, aligning them with risks, giving them bad news, or actually just telling them perhaps that they’re not completely correct in that decision, but that that’s a challenging thing to do as a [00:30:00] product manager.
[00:30:00] Isn’t it it’s to be able to have that confidence, to challenge senior leadership, to say, you know, Perhaps this isn’t a good idea. Or we’ve got to worry about that. It’s taking them bad news so that they can then reflect back on that and help you to make a better choice.
[00:30:13] Curtis: [00:30:13] Absolutely. Yeah. And like I said, that was early in my career.
[00:30:16] Still something I struggle with nowadays, like it doesn’t go away. Like there’s those hard conversations are hard, but I think one of the things I’ve learned about definitely about seniority as you go, things like that. You have to have them and you have to get more comfortable or as much as, as, as comfortable as you can having this conversation.
[00:30:30] Cause that’s such a way where your value comes from as a credit manager is clearly both, but with the good things, and they’re always fun to communicate the good things, right? We were the first to send an email saying we’ve launched this feature, our conversion rates going up by X percent, whatever.
[00:30:42] Right. Firstly, communicate those. It’s also a lot. It’s always a little bit harder to write what your low lights were for the current sprint or the current, quarter. but I think that the really key things that can actually help a business more than him directly. As uncomfortable as it might feel.
[00:30:54] Joe: [00:30:54] You mentioned a good, you mentioned a good book though, which is what radical candor by Kim Scott, which I’ll put into the, into [00:31:00] the show notes as well, which is a fantastic book about sort of getting what you want by saying what you mean. I think the strap line to that book, and that’s a great reach.
[00:31:06] That’s a good, a good call there.
[00:31:08] Curtis: [00:31:08] And the key thing I think in the book, as well as it is, is it’s about directness, but also about how much you care. So like, if you just direct me, you don’t care. You’re just gonna come across a bit of an asshole. But like it’s about actually no, I do generally care. And the reason that I’m being direct and candid with you, because your performance next area, or because this is a, this is a potential risk to our business.
[00:31:25] The reason I’m sharing this information with you is because I care and I want us as a team to improve on this and move forward.
[00:31:33] Joe: [00:31:33] No, I love that way of describing it, of direct being direct and have doing that with care. I think that’s a really nice way to describe these conversations you have to have with people.
[00:31:41] And we haven’t talked much about competition. How much does competition play a part into the decision making process that you,
[00:31:50] Curtis: [00:31:50] this is always one of those topics that comes up with product managers, right? I guess there’s one on the spectrum is like, don’t treat your competitors. Cause you’re always behind, which is, which is true.
[00:31:57] Like, you know, if you see your competitor has [00:32:00] something live in the marketplace, You were already behind because they have weeks or months ahead of you on this. however, I think it’s always, always important to remember. We don’t operate in a vacuum. This is not, it’s not like our customers are never going to go and look at a competitor app.
[00:32:14] I think understanding what is happening is important feature chasing is not understanding why, what are our competitors doing? Have they, they caught something that we have not seen and then kind of going in and validating it. With your own user testing with your own positive data, like whatever that’s going to be understanding, like what the content, I think it’s always important to have that context.
[00:32:32] You, you have to look externally, That’s my main take on it. I think delivery here right here has a little bit vantage because as I said, we’re a portfolio company, right? So I’m working with 300 Fidor bans primarily, but I have colleagues in Taliban and I have colleagues in Potosi in South America.
[00:32:45] They’re essentially working on the exact same product space that I am. They’re not my direct competitors, but they’re the same thing. It’s a quick comments delivery app. And that’s one of the things that we’ve started doing a lot more internally in delivery heroes, we’ve set up guilds. So Guild is a community of interest.
[00:32:58]and we have monthly meetings where [00:33:00] the product manager for homescreen in Philadelphia, the product manager from Yemen accepted and tell him about I’m listing the engineering managers. And then the partner times we got a call, let me say, Hey look. These are the things that, where we’re looking at in our product, these are the things that we’re learning.
[00:33:12] This is how we’re architecting the technical stack behind it. and it’s actually like, if you think about competitive benchmarking, this is competitive benchmarking. We also get to have very Frank conversations about all the stuff that you don’t see under the hood. so I think w I’m in a very privileged position, I’ll be honest.
[00:33:28] You hear that because we are a portfolio company, we have this flexibility to be able to talk to our colleagues. And I think that’s the, that’s always the interesting thing, right? The number of times that I will see something on one of our internal brands, they’ll say, Taliban, go. Oh, that’s really cool.
[00:33:41] And then you have this Guild mills meeting and like, Oh yeah, this is all the stuff underneath. It went really badly. Like you don’t see just from going and looking at Petra wrap and copying it. So there’s a lot more context. so yeah, my short answer is absolutely. We can’t be naive this like a competitor to the teaching.
[00:33:57] I’ll use a certain PA patterns. I think actually, Joe, you have [00:34:00] this story about a Wikipedia in the search bar, moving around, right. and like most people are used to the search bar at the top Wikipedia, moved it. I presume to try and match a little bit of that UI pattern that people are used to, but the people on Wikipedia and not typically you’re happy with it.
[00:34:13] I think you have to understand that other apps, generally our teaching our customers on your users habit, we need to be aware of what’s happening around us. We don’t operate in a vacuum. We don’t operate in a bubble.
[00:34:26] Joe: [00:34:26] That’s interesting. I love that concept. You’re right. We don’t operate in a vacuum. We operate in a bubble, but it’s that pragmatic approach to the competition.
[00:34:32] Isn’t it understanding that users will go and have a look at what they’re doing, but, and you’ve got to have an appreciation of why they’re doing that and what they might be learning from doing that. And that’s got to feed in a little bit to a decision making it, but shouldn’t lead it. Now. I love the idea.
[00:34:44] They love the concept of the Guild as well. There’s. Across the portfolio of companies where you’ve got guilds of people in different products, working on similar problems, but getting together to talk about that. I love that idea for Guild. That’s a really interesting idea.
[00:34:57] Curtis: [00:34:57] Yeah. We’re very lucky to have that flexibility.
[00:34:59] I [00:35:00] think there’s probably very few in the other companies that get that, but it’s something I’m I really appreciate. It’s it’s great to essentially have three other people that you can be very Frank and bounce those ideas off and talk about.
[00:35:12] Joe: [00:35:12] Great. Well, thank you very much for your time today. This has been fantastic.
[00:35:15] I’ve learned so much today and I could carry on talking to you for a long time about this stuff. You’ve got a lot to, a lot of wisdom you can impart. So thank you very much. Is there somewhere out there on the internet where people can find out a little bit more about you sort of where’s the best place to, to find you.
[00:35:29] Curtis: [00:35:29] Sure. I tried to write a couple times a month on medium. so he kept me on medium, at CR Stan. Yeah. feel free to add me on LinkedIn. If you want to chat, I’m a bit of a product geek, so I’m always happy just to Pat talk about product stuff, so happy that, and then also on Twitter at CRC, Tanya. So yeah, that’s how the best places to get away from the very much.
[00:35:48] Joe: [00:35:48] Great. Thank you very much for your time. This has been fantastic. Thank you.