How PostHog's new VP focused the company on nailing funnels in his first week

July 01, 2021

How PostHog's new VP focused the company on nailing funnels in his first week

Marcus Hyett

VP Product

Ramping up fast in any senior product role requires understanding as much context as possible across 3 axes (Market, Product and People). I’ll talk you through my process of going from zero understanding in these three areas, to landing a clear, ambitious long-term strategy across the company in just one week.

Phase 1: Understanding context

Market

Customer interviews

We have a wealth of documented in-depth interviews with existing customers and prospects around their experience with PostHog, and I was able to attend a few live interviews in my first week. I read the transcript of every single interview (some multiple times), pulling out key themes and looking beyond what they were asking for to try and work out why they were asking for it. This created a shortlist of critical needs we must solve for to make our customers successful.

Competitor research

When you’re new to a market with existing competitors it’s important to understand who they are and what’s unique about their products. I analyzed the marketing and documentation of a number of our competitors to understand our potential gaps and advantages. It’s key not to get hung up on features our competitors have which we don’t - we must focus on building the best solution to the problems our customers have, which might look different to what our competitors offer.

Analytics

PostHog is a product analytics tool, so I was able to get set-up and analyse the behavior of our users within a few hours. I focused on breaking down how our existing product is used across different dimensions to understand which of our capabilities are most valuable to our existing customers and have the biggest growth opportunities.

Product

Mission

PostHog's mission to "Increase the number of successful products in the world" was a big reason I joined the company, and that phrase provided context to building out a long-term direction.

Dogfooding

Every good product manager is one of the world’s top users of their product. I spent over 12 hours in my first week using the product inside and out, identifying bugs, drawbacks and opportunities for the product along the way.

Tasks and feature requests

To gather context on how the team prioritizes and what they’re currently working on, I spent a number of hours reading through open GitHub issues. This gave me insight into what our community is expecting and experiencing when they use PostHog.

People

Intro interviews and insights

I attempted to meet with every single person in the company in my first week - a few meetings spilled over into the second week. I introduced myself and got to learn about them, their history, and what they’re passionate about. I asked everyone the same three questions:

  • In your opinion, what's the long term direction of PostHog?
  • What do you think is the biggest blocker to our success?
  • What can I do to help you become more successful?

The answers to these questions were really enlightening. It was immediately clear that the company had been quite reactive and that a proactive strategy would be welcomed. I also got a great understanding of what the future of PostHog might look like and what I can do to help each individual succeed.

Insights

Based on these interviews, I aggregated the key themes as a collection of insights to share with the team. This also gave me the opportunity to identify and share a number of immediate actions I would be taking to help push the company forward.

Phase 2: Building the strategy

Long-term direction & audience

The cornerstone of every strategy is having a long-term direction to point everything else towards. It was easy to build a long term vision for 2023 with insights from the intro interviews and leveraging PostHog’s existing mission. We identified a segment that resonated well with our existing successful customers and has a lot of growth potential.

First milestone

With a long term vision, clear focused audience, and a ton of context about our customers, their needs, the market and how our product is used today, we identified one thing we needed to get right before anything else: funnels.

Phase 3: Landing the strategy

Feedback & iteration

To get buy-in, it was crucial for me to share the draft with the entire company and get as much feedback as possible. The feedback was comprehensive and enabled me to quickly iterate on the first version. To make the strategy easy to remember and execute, we came up with a memorable two-word version of our top priority: “nail funnels” (thanks to Tim).

But you can't just assume everyone will buy into the strategy because you posted it somewhere and they gave it a thumbs up. You have to talk people through it 1:1 and communicate the message via different channels. We discussed the new strategy in all our small team standups, company all-hands, and uploaded it to our website.

Read more about our strategy here.

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