Product All-Star: 6 questions with Jeff Bye
April 24, 2024

Product All-Star: 6 questions with Jeff Bye

by Aha!

Building products is an adventure. That is what makes it the best job in the world. But this role is not for everyone — true product success requires decisive action, continuous effort, and the relentless pursuit of value.

We have the honor of being connected to companies and product experts who go boldly and bravely. And we are asking folks to share their knowledge with you in the hopes it will inspire you in your own product career.

Jeff Bye is the senior director for digital products at Equality Health, a health platform that helps independent medical providers adopt and deliver value-based care. He leads a product team focused on the digital enablement of Equality Health's care model. This includes optimizing digital touchpoints, including a population health tool that helps practices optimize their workflows to address care opportunities and streamline their practice patterns.

Day to day, Jeff brings humility and perseverance to his team — encouraging teammates to embrace challenges and learn from mistakes.

How did you get your start in product?

"I got my start at Optum Health as a contractor. My colleagues and I were asked to develop user acceptance test cases for the entire wellness portal. We had to learn the product quickly and spend time with product managers to get a good understanding of it. This process made me super curious: How was the portal built? What did the product and customer lifecycle look like? The more I learned, the more entrenched I became in product building. Eventually, I got the opportunity to join the product team, and that's where my PM career began.

Over the next ten years, I continued to evolve my skills and understanding of product management — specifically within the healthcare space at Aetna and CVS Health. It became my passion, and I now have the privilege of leading digital product at Equality Health.

It's an exciting time to be a part of Equality Health. We're prioritizing outcome-based success measurements, which has encouraged a structured approach to product development: discovering the root problem, defining the priority features, and then (in the words of Aha!) deciding what our Minimum Lovable Product should look like."

What are the most important traits of a product builder?

"Three words come to mind immediately: objectivity, collaboration, and humility.

Product leaders have to come to the table with an objective attitude. There is a science behind assessing the impact and value of all upcoming work. You must objectively weigh product plans against other priorities and justify the effort.

Collaboration is critical — especially in product management, where you literally live at the heart of the organization. You have to connect with people across teams and be prepared for uphill battles. Not everyone will agree all the time. So, you have to be very intentional about creating a collaborative space for work to get done.

Most importantly, product managers have to be humble. You have to be ready to admit when you're wrong. Product management is an iterative process, and it is OK to miss on the first try. The only way to know whether your changes made a positive difference is to test, iterate, improve, and then test again.

"If you want to deliver products that truly resonate with people, you have to be comfortable getting some things wrong before you get them right."

Part of this process is admitting to your peers and leadership when something doesn't go how you anticipated and what the next steps look like. It's not easy to do, but if you gloss over bad news, you break trust with your stakeholders. Without trust, you are not going to be successful."

How do you stay motivated when complex challenges arise?

"I coach my team a lot on perseverance and determination. It supports the idea that failure is an inevitable part of the product development process. You must embrace failure and continue to move forward, applying new learnings to the next iteration. Success demands that kind of mindset.

"Challenges are unavoidable in product management, but finding ways to overcome them is what makes our work fun."

We recently finished a super complex feature for the quality and risk adjustment teams. It was a game-changer, but we faced several unexpected roadblocks along the way. Every time we thought we were close, we'd find a new problem, which was a real letdown for everyone involved. But we kept pushing, and it was finally successful after much hard work. As a product manager, seeing everyone's efforts pay off in such a powerful way is extremely rewarding."

How do you achieve stakeholder alignment?

"I mentioned that objectivity is an important trait for product builders, and it comes into play with stakeholder management. You can't seem biased as a product leader. You need to adopt an objective approach to fielding each stakeholder's desires and measure their requests against your product strategy and roadmap. This is considerably easier when everyone has a common vision they are working toward and specific objectives each piece of work needs to tie to.

"When it comes to stakeholder alignment, try to show. Don't tell."

For example, if you are working through the feasibility of a feature request with stakeholders, lean away from just telling them what you think is best. Show instead. Play out different scenarios and back those outcomes up with data. Show your stakeholders which path forward will deliver the most value and why. That way, they feel that they are part of the process and heard — even if the direction or decision differs from what they expected."

What is the most exciting aspect of your current role?

"At Equality Health, we're constantly looking at how we can expand our care model and ensure things are moving in the right direction for our members. The most exciting thing for me is what the future holds for us in the next few years. We've made so many positive changes during my time here, and we're still evolving. It's inspiring to see how we're advancing our care model, and the innovation we're bringing to the table is simply amazing. I feel privileged to be a part of it."

Read more of the Product All-Star series.

Know an inspiring product builder? Nominate them to be featured in an upcoming post. They simply need to be doing quality work and using Aha! software.



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