Speeding Up New Product Development is Product Management

Julia Barham, Innovation Product Manager at Nationwide, discusses the unique considerations at play when building digital experimentation cultures and fast product development strategies in the banking and finance industries.

Julia Barham is a product manager in Nationwide’s Innovation Lab. There, she leads cross-functional teams through design thinking sprints to identify unmet needs in the financial services and insurance markets.

“Our teams are exploring opportunities to launch new products and services that are both close to our traditional business, as well as opportunities that are a little bit further out from our core business,” says Julia.

Before Nationwide, Julia was at Capital One, where she served as product manager. Prior to that, she was the head of product experience and engagement at Motley Fool, a fintech startup. She has worked on product development strategies for both startups and large organizations, and, in doing so, has faced many challenges.

“Transitioning from a smaller company to a larger company, there’s so much tribal knowledge and so many stakeholders,” says Julia, noting the ingrained culture at many companies towards shipping now and measuring later. Working this way has reverberating effects: On customers, who don’t get the best experience; on sprint teams of product managers, designers, and developers, who can’t study the impact of the features they’ve built; and on business leaders, who lack clarity into where to direct resources in a way that will move the needle.

One effective solve for this is to build a test and learn capability, as a skill set and a strategy. While at Capital One, for example, Julia worked diligently to build an experimentation culture where teams were given the right tools and education and worked cross-functionally to test and design their ideas and measure the impact on the business. Soon enough, she was able to generate buy-in from stakeholders who were eager to implement experimentation.

“I shopped it around with the value prop of, ‘We're going to generate business value that can be measured. We're going to improve customer satisfaction. We're going to win quickly and fail gracefully. And we're going to level up our talent by creating this culture of experimentation and culture of data informed decisions,’” says Julia.

In this episode, you’ll learn a lot about testing and learning, experimentation, stakeholder buy-in, and how to move faster.

Here are the highlights: 

  • How Julia transitioned from a fintech startup to large banking and finance organizations (8:10)
  • Challenges she faced in building a testing and learning mentality at Capital One (10:28)
  • How to communicate the value of experimentation to stakeholders (14:04)
  • Ways to teach cross-functional teams to move faster (19:49)

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