Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

Growth. We all crave it. Both in our personal lives and in business. But what we often forget is that the biggest growth spurts inevitably come with growing pains. Suddenly we are in this weird place in the middle – no longer a child but still not an adult. Adolescence: something’s emerging, everything is changing and it’s really, really messy. Turns out that startups go through a very similar stage. And this is exactly what my guest today and I talk about in this episode of the CultureLab podcast.

Meet Tommi Forsström, a product leadership expert specializing in growth-stage companies navigating the adolescence of a company from product-market fit to IPO. Tommi paid his dues in the Nokia-driven, engineering-heavy Finnish tech scene in the 00s and moved to NYC just as the city was waking up to the criticality of great Product Management in building fast-growing sustainable companies. His mission is to help product leaders bust out of the Product Management bubble, learn to lead cross-functionally, and speak the language of business. He’s currently head of product on Teachable.

Episode Highlights

Here are some of the highlights from our conversation:

  • Defining growth stage.
  • Why you need a product leader – and when it’s a good time to start thinking of hiring one.
  • Why shipping fast is only half of the story – and what’s the other half.
  • Using evidence (both qualitative and quantitive) to build successful products.
  • The role of culture in your product and business success.
  • Challenges of fully embracing cross-functional work.
  • Moving from the mindset of outputs to the outcomes one.
  • Leading change – dos and don’ts from a product leader perspective.
  • Culture-related challenges during the growth stage.
  • The CEO – product leader relationship and how to make it work.

Listen to the interview in the player below or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review, and it may be featured on a future episode.

Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

More about Tommi Forsström

You can find Tommi on Twitter and read his blog here.

Books and resources mentioned in this episode

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle 

Additional resources 

The Culture Strategy Bootcamp

Scaleup’s Guide to Creating a Culture Playbook

Personal Core Values Discovery Guide

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