Immoweb’s CPO Consuela Nicula joined us to give suggestions to the audience about innovation. With her experience in a corporate company leading its market, she showcased to us her vision of being able to push a product a step further, even if it already is at the top. In the past, Consuela worked for big Belgian companies such as Proximus and BNP Paribas before joining Immoweb. Immoweb is the top real estate search engine in Belgium. She also was a competitive latin dancer, competing for the world championships several years.
You can tell this lady is not here for 2nd place. Even when it comes to leading products, Consuela is here to be the best. Being and always staying ahead is what she wanted to point out in her talk. Here’s our summary of her intervention on “Product Innovation: What product leaders need to do to keep ahead of the Game”.
First, Consuela wanted to touch on what it means to have an innovative product, and the definition of “innovation”. For her, it means being a solution to a need the customer didn’t even think of before experiencing the product. This factor is the real difference between good and innovative products. A great idea, for a great purpose. The priority should be “doing work that matters” for customers, Consuela quotes from Gloria E. Anzaldua.
Innovative companies are rare in the current market according to Consuela, as they can’t really answer the question “Are we really focusing on our customers?”. That is why the first thing you would want to think about when trying to deliver innovation is to forget about revenue. Think about how your customer will benefit from your product or service. She differentiates explicit issues customers might encounter from latent ones. Explicit issues are the ones loudly expressed by the customer. Latent issues define a problem the customer didn’t even think of when seeing it resolved by your product. Simply, Innovation.
Consuela follows her talk by showing what Immoweb has done since they joined the internet in order to ease the property selling process. Since the internet wasn’t as widespread as today, Immoweb chose to open their own website in which the property selling process became simpler. Back in the days, you had to publish your ad in the newspapers, and keep answering numerous calls when you were selling. It was an exhausting process. Immoweb chose to innovate, and made sure to drastically improve the selling journey for clients. This worked very well. Immoweb is now a leader in the Belgian real estate market.
To answer the question “How to keep ahead of the game as a Product Leader”, Consuela gave us three main pieces of advice: great leadership, culture, and resources. Aligning your team goals on the same level, inspiring them, and providing trust and autonomy to everyone is the main innovation driver. Leadership is the skill that regroups all of these factors. It’s a base defining you as the one providing the others with the vision of the company.
Therefore being a source of inspiration for your company is really important as a product leader. Support and motivation are key components for employees to know what they’re here for. It is even more relevant when your company has a history and needs to maintain their quality because of their image. Therefore, showing trust and giving autonomy puts it all together. “There’s no good product without a good team,” Consuela says. Managing your teams, and letting them build things at their own pace ensures the quality of work, their culture and innovation. Your employees also learn by doing, and they won’t disappoint anyone if they produce enough to learn how to do better, than simply getting rejected, thus frustrated.
Consuela concluded that as a product leader, you only have one priority: invest time in your people. You need the right people to make those innovative products happen. Support your team and inspire it. Consuela ends her talk by calling out every leader in the audience with those words: “People build for people. Not for someone else.(...)As a product leader, you should start investing time in your people today.”