Wade Pinder, Principle Product Management Consultant at Improving and Co-Founder of the Houston Product Community, talks about Blinds.com, communities of practice, and product vs project in this week’s episode. With decades of experience in the product space, Wade currently spends his time giving back to the entrepreneur and startup community, as well as finding Houston solutions to Houston problems on Saturdays with the Houston Product Community.
[00:00] Podcast begins - Houston’s Community for Product Management
[06:51] Differentiating project management vs product management
[11:40] Creative work culture at Blinds.com
[17:32] Mentoring the next generation of product at Station Houston
[23:37] Communities of practice with the Houston Product Community
[32:15] Helping entrepreneurs with product as a non-entrepreneur
[35:12] Growing the Houston ecosystem at Code Launch
What's the difference between a project manager and a product manager?
A lot of people mix-up the terms project manager and product manager, according to Wade, and the differences are important to distinguish, especially in the hiring process. As a project manager, you work with time, money, and scope. When the project is done, you’re able to walk away and people will continue using what you created. Wade describes product management as a marriage. You prioritize what is capable in the present, and you work to add or change features as time goes on and updates are made.
“Storytelling is a core thing of being successful at product management. It’s telling that same story over and over again, with the same excitement and sense of purpose and authenticity of the excitement of what you're trying to do.”
What was the main factor in your decision to become product manager at Blinds.com? 9:10
When looking back at his time working with product at Blinds.com, one of Wade’s most successful and prominent positions, culture was what inspired Wade to take the leap and join the team. Many entrepreneurs fail to realize the importance of culture in the hiring process, but Wade felt that Blinds.com had a competent CEO at the helm, leading his employees towards a creative environment. Feeling like he could improve continuously, experiment without a fear of failure, and enjoy the ride made taking the role at Blinds.com a no-brainer.
“When you walked into [Blinds.com], it just felt different. Lots of people seemed to be having fun, the energy was really high. Creative people, creative environment. In the course of 3 days, I talked to all of the stakeholders, the subject matter experts there, and it was just a great fit.”
What is the concept of communities of practice and how does it relate to the Houston Product Community?
As Wade explains it, a community of practice is simply a group of people that get together regularly and focus on something they do, such as a professional position or a hobby. Unfortunately, when Wade first learned about communities of practice, a community didn’t exist for product in Houston. From this deficit, the Houston Product Community was born. Meeting once a month, hundreds of product-related people now have a place to network, learn, and solve Houston’s product issues.
“We meet one Saturday morning a month from 9 to 12, and we have roughly an hour of connecting, an hour of learning, and an hour of sharing. I really tried to apply good to great principles of finding what you're focused on; so product and Houston, it’s that overlap.”
Why are you personally involved in Houston startup development organizations?
Although Wade isn’t an entrepreneur himself, the entrepreneurial journey is a story he wants to be involved in. Being able to lend his storytelling expertise and product experience to the next generation of Houston entrepreneurs and startups is Wade’s way of giving back to the city that he calls home. Wade would never be an entrepreneur himself, especially understanding the stress they have to deal with, but he wants to lend a helping hand along the way with Station Houston, Code Launch, and Houston Product Community.
“I love product and I love the entrepreneurial journey. I am not an entrepreneur and I could never sleep at night if I was a full-on entrepreneur. I see what they deal with. I'm not that type of personality. I love the journey. I love the challenge, but I have no desire to be the CEO.”