Great product comes from two main forces: a clear sense of what your customers want and need; and product strategy.Oji Udezue, Head of Product at Atlassian
Oji Udezue is the head of product for Atlassian’s communications products, which just launched its first new product since IPO: Atlassian Stride. A product veteran with past roles at Microsoft, Bridgewater Associates, Spiceworks and his own startup, InterMingl, Oji is passionate about bringing new scalable products and ideas into the world. He mentors startups with a focus on companies with diverse founders, and drives startup investments in Africa as a passion project. His ultimate goal is productizing functional telepathy but for now will settle for transforming how teams and the people in them, communicate and process social data at work.
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Key Insights from our Conversation:
- Oji is most passionate about two things: solving problems in novel ways and leadership. Solving problems which no one has thought of before or the ability to bring a new perspective is something that he views as a big dopamine hit. As he had grown in his profession, he realizes that most of time, the solution is people – hence his love for the leadership part of his job.
- Oji grew up in a middle class family in a poor country but as a teenager, he read voraciously. He explored worlds beyond worlds and this had created a hunger within him. He dabbled also into engineering, politics, publishing, and this propelled his expectations more which led him to the US and great companies.
- Atlassian is a public company whose mission is to unleash the potential in every team. They believe that the real unit of progress in society is not the Lone Ranger, it’s a team. They build collaboration software that helps every kind of team flourish. A popular product is Jira.
- The earlier challenges when he joined that team centered on the human side – the partnership between product and delivery and the partnership between product and marketing. He spent time laying back, absorbing information, asking stupid questions and then making changes so they can accomplish their goals. He focused his time on storytelling, vision-setting, prioritization and simple devices which helped focus people.
- To facilitate better communications between departments, he employed the basics: having regular standing meetings that quantifies goals and moves the needle forward. Have buy in of people to get attendance; cancel them if they are not needed; but when you do meet, make sure you have clear orders, open questions and timelines.
- Atlassian bought HipChat when it was young because they recognize that it was a unique way to communicate in the era of email fatigue. It was successful but also know that there were innovations needed to happen beyond just team messaging. This realization is what gave birth to Stride, which combines messaging and collaboration tools. Oji’s role in Stride is to get it to success and build the future of it.
- In creating Stride, Oji learned even more sharply is telling a great story. They took what seems to be a bunch of engineering stories and told a great, simple story. They broke it down into elements and this simplicity helped them communicate their product in a way where people really got it.