Product Team Tonic
Published in

Product Team Tonic

Designing your Product Leadership journey

Notes from Product Tonic Unconference 2021

Why is this relevant for Product Leaders?

Product Leaders are often working in complex domains and in preparing for new worlds of work, we need to re-humanize work towards behaviours that amplify curiosity, creativity, empathy, humour and passion.

Harold Jarche describes in Learning in the Complex Domain how it is about individuals making the best use of their networks and other sources of knowledge so that they can keep up to date with the most effective thinking in their area and practice new ways of doing things.

During the Product Tonic Unconference 2021, a conversation centred around our understanding of our areas of strengths and growth using the Association of Product Professionals (APP) Product Proficiency Framework. The framework was recently launched to help unlock a tailored set of recommendations to achieve career goals for a product professional.

By taking a model like APP’s Product Proficiency Framework to discover our own areas of strengths and growth, we can effectively seek out communities of practices to learn and connect with others to increase our knowledge to help navigate the complexity of the work.

In facilitating this topic for the group who had gather, this was based around my curiosity of applying the same design pattern from “Designing your Agile Coaching journey” that was developed over the years examining how one could effectively craft their own learning knowledge model towards mastery.

“All models are wrong, but some are useful”

George Box

This has been tremendously helpful in developing a personal learning portfolio over the last 10 years to help navigate the complexities of different roles in the product space. Like all models, it’s important to understand this is a representation to help us frame and continuously re-frame against our own north star.

From the constellation activity using two questions to identify areas of self-assessed strength and growth, we could then form learning triads among peers to establish a network of learning and mentorship opportunities. This models the behaviours I’ve observed in many product leaders who invest time in relationship, vision, strategy and performance mastery (see RSVP Model in Leading in a Learning Way) through the different communities of practices.

Observations about “things I am good at”

  • The skills that PMs feel that they are good at are evenly distributed
  • Market Tactics seem to be somewhere PMs don’t feel like they are good at
  • Funny that Decisiveness is missing because we make decisions all the time
  • Hard to say “I am good at something” because I know what I HAVE to do but I don’t know if I’m good at it
  • Factual things are easier to judge but Leadership and Decisiveness and soft traits are harder to manage
  • Most of us are generalists that have different skills that spread across the chart
  • No one says they are expert at Product Roadmap lol

Observations about “things I want to improve on”

  • Doing something difficult but within your ability to work on brings you to the state of Flow
  • Moving towards strategic as people feel they want to learn more about
  • No one is choosing evangelism — feel like it’s in the anxiety zone because “you have to be expert”
  • Decisiveness is a factor of Leadership so hard to choose the latter if I don’t feel like I’m good at the latte

It’s also important to find alignment to invite leadership in self through understanding about what value we bring to teams through a simple timeline map of our turning points. This asked us to look back using these reflection prompts

  • What has been my life so far?
  • What have I been through that I have empathy [who/why] and authority [what / how] to speak about

While we’re working on ourselves, how might we “heal” ourselves?

Mulyadi Oey

Developing this across a time (x-axis) and emotion (y-axis), it asks us to take note of turning points or a significant point that has shaped or shifted us. It’s important to recognise the moments we take to recharge/take care of ourselves.

Final Wrap Up

  • Useful model and “working on yourself” is surprisingly the root of how you can develop professionally
  • People always tell you to brush up on your technical skills but not in such a systematic way that involves soft skills mentioned in the model
  • Matching the model and the personal map to put things into context i.e. what I’m good at and why

Learn by googling and watching videos online. Learn faster by speaking with people who have the domain knowledge. Today’s era of learning goes beyond a traditional paper degree.

Chua Yi Fang Yvonne

This is a summary reflection for Product Tonic Unconference 2021 that took place on 23 Oct 2021. The sessions were facilitated through Open Space Technology (OST) and was attended by over participants working in the Product space.

Thank you to all participants who shared their learning goals to help all of us become better product leaders. Special thanks to Ashley Uy for helping to take notes during the conversations.



This is series of ongoing conversations with #ProdMgmt community organisers from [ #ProductBeer #PMHuddle (Malaysia) #ProductTank (Singapore, Jakarta & Bangkok) #ProductPH (Philippines) #LTPConf (Australia)] + Product Tonic Retreat 2018/2019 participants

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Michael Ong

Professional Leisure Cyclist + Community Builder + Facilitator, Trainer & Coach for Individuals & Product teams to thrive in work & (serious) play