Product All-Star: 6 questions with Om Patel
May 24, 2024

Product All-Star: 6 questions with Om Patel

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.

Om Patel is an enterprise business agility consultant at ClearlyAgile, a consulting firm based in Tampa, Florida. Primarily working with product leaders and teams, Om fosters incremental agility and values the deep relationships he forms with team members and clients. And he never shrinks from a good challenge.

When Om is not working, you can find him co-hosting a podcast called Arguing Agile.

How did you get your start in product?

"I got my start at a boutique software company called Cyber-graphic (now part of Atex) that specializes in publishing systems software. I began in project management and progressed into supporting sales and marketing folks in pre-sale activities, such as product demos, workshops, and contract negotiations. I eventually helped customers coordinate deployments. I was customer-facing the entire time; it was a great way to engage with prospects throughout the whole implementation lifecycle.

We didn't have dedicated product roles at the time, so I stepped in and became ingrained in product development — bringing customer feedback into the product lifecycle, for instance. After a few years, I found myself leaning more heavily into coaching at a client and company level.

Today at ClearlyAgile, I develop relationships with product leaders and teams and help them make progress toward their agile goals. My coaching skills have grown over time, and I find great satisfaction in my role."

What are the most important traits of a product builder?

"You need to have an intense interest in the entire ecosystem surrounding your product. It's key to understand the competitive landscape and how your product fits — and differentiates — in the marketplace.

When you do that, you have a path to ensuring a good product-market fit. And the only way to do so is by listening to customers, which is my absolute favorite activity.

"Tune in to customer needs at every step of the product journey."

This helps you create greater alignment among your product, your customers, and your company's overall strategy."

How do you engage leadership in embracing a more agile approach?

"Oftentimes, established leaders didn't get to where they are by working in an agile way. They might be used to older methods, simply because people tend to gravitate toward what they know best and agile methodologies are still relatively new (especially outside of software) and evolving. As a coach, I try to balance comfort against a new way of working — I need to listen to my clients each step of the way to get them to success.

It's unrealistic to try to change everything at once. Instead, I partner with product teams and executives to illustrate the 'why' behind agile. I then help everyone find success in their comfort zones while pushing them to grow and try new things."

What advice would you give for staying motivated when complex challenges arise?

"Do not shun challenges — welcome them. They are testing your assumptions."

"Get to the root cause of the challenge. This prevents you from vainly iterating in the hope of a different result. Take the time to truly understand the central issue and its actual impact on your product delivery. Then, visualize the effect on a roadmap, communicate to your stakeholders, and own accountability.

"Part of overcoming a challenge is bringing everyone along with you. Always shout the good news — but the bad news sometimes needs to be louder."

Don't hold problems close to your chest. Instead, be transparent in your struggle and stay open to new thoughts and feedback. In my role, I rely on my consultant background to have deep conversations and ask tough questions. But I also step back to let the teams drive the solution."

What keeps you coming back to product?

"Shortening the time frame to deliver value to the customer and helping them reach their unique goals keeps me coming back."

"I love this work because no two days are the same, and no two clients are the same. I get to navigate a global marketplace and help people work through interesting problems. And it's motivating to explore cutting-edge solutions and emerging technologies with clients."

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.



Aha! is the world's #1 product development software. We help more than 1 million product builders bring their strategy to life. Our suite of tools includes Aha! Roadmaps, Aha! Ideas, Aha! Whiteboards, Aha! Knowledge, and Aha! Develop.

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