The Seven Virtues of the Most Successful Chief Product Officers

The Seven Virtues of the Most Successful Chief Product Officers

Chief product officer is becoming one of the tech world’s most influential positions. According to our recent study, almost a quarter of product teams now report into a chief product officer (CPO), up from only 7% last year. 11-billion-dollar unicorn Okta poached a longtime Google executive to be its new CPO; Disney hired a Goldman exec as VP of product to guide its newest streaming offering; and Tinder nabbed a Facebook veteran to guide its rapidly expanding dating app. One of the world’s most powerful products, Facebook itself, lost its CPO Chris Cox earlier this year and the heads of its main products will now be reporting directly to Zuck himself.

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Nice story Brian! I generally agree with your virtues. I’d just like to expand on a few points.

  1. Customer obsession
    For me being obsessed with customer problems really goes beyond talking to customers. Investing time chatting with customers is great on all accounts, it gives you so much context when thinking about the product. But I see people constantly make the mistake of taking what customers say at face value.
    You really need to be able to read between the lines and listen to the words that go unspoken. In order to achieve that, I believe you need to put in the mental reps of putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. You need to constantly imagine yourself as a customer and really think about what problems you’re trying to solve and what you need to solve those problems. Your imagination is your greatest tool.
  1. Leadership
    Great leaders don’t delegate, they inspire. So to be a great CPO, I believe you need to do a great job of sharing the insights you discover in your pursuit of being customer-obsessed. The more quality insights you share, the better equipped your team will be to act in the best interest of the customer.
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