Event report: Project to Product-led – shifts in mindset and process

Corecom Consulting was delighted to welcome Joy Adamson to the Social Hub in Amsterdam city as the keynote speaker on the topic of ‘Project to Product-led’. As Joy began her address, she posed a fundamental question, “To be product-led or not to be?”

Joy, a freelance product leader with two decades of cross-sector experience in the product space, delved into the fast-moving world of product management. She commenced her talk by challenging the audience with a series of intriguing questions.

The Transition from Project-led to Product-led

Joy embarked on a journey through time, sharing her experiences and insights. She recounted a story from 16 years ago when she worked at Rabobank, one of the largest banks in the Netherlands. Back then, the idea of fully digital banks was novel. With smartphones not yet in the picture and Blackberries in vogue, online banking was in its infancy. Joy painted a vivid picture of the challenges faced in those early days, where decisions, requirements, and budgets were locked in, and project-led approaches ruled the roost.

Balancing act: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Joy’s narrative shifted gears, moving from the past to the present. She explored the delicate balance between project-led and product-led approaches. Joy emphasised that it wasn’t a black-and-white decision but rather a matter of finding the right blend for each organisation. Drawing inspiration from visionary leaders like Apple’s Steve Jobs and Spotify’s founders, she showcased the power of combining different strategies.

Anecdotes from the Trenches

Joy’s journey took an interesting turn as she shared her experiences from Backbase, a fintech company. She described the challenges they faced when their product was still in its infancy. Joy discussed how the sales team plays a crucial role as the voice of the customer. Money was tight, and the team had to secure deals first before fully realising their product’s potential.

Customer-centricity at Nike

Joy pivoted to a fascinating case study of Nike, an organisation that had mastered the art of customer-centricity. She took the audience through Nike’s transformation, where the culture had always been customer-centric. The case demonstrated how Nike’s adaptable framework and culture allowed them to stay ahead of the competition.

Recognising the need for change

As Joy’s story unfolded, she shared valuable insights on recognising signs that indicate the need for intervention in product management strategies. She highlighted the importance of maintaining an outcome-driven mindset, simplifying processes, and encouraging experimentation.


Joy had taken the audience on a journey through the dynamic world of product leadership. Her story emphasised the importance of balance and adaptability and the need to tailor strategies to each organisation’s unique context. The key takeaway was that, in the ever-evolving landscape of product management, success is a matter of continuous experimentation, customer-centricity, and staying true to one’s unique culture.

Following the conclusion of Joy’s presentation, the event took an interactive turn. Attendees divided into smaller breakout groups, each tasked with exploring and discussing different aspects of the transition from a project to a product-led approach. The following questions posed during these discussions aimed to unearth practical strategies and insights.

  • Is there an escape from the holy trinity of constraints; time, cost, scope?
  • How to convince the Exec team to take an outcome-driven approach instead of outputs and delivery?
  • How to frame the Product-led approach for internal (co-worker) products?
  • How to do continuous discovery in practice?
  • How to create lasting feedback loops between Sales, Discovery & Operations to better align high-value delivery?
  • How to keep the Product-led mindset once you are there?

As the breakout groups concluded their discussions, attendees reconvened, bringing with them a wealth of insights and practical solutions. Joy’s presentation provided them with a framework of understanding, and these group sessions allowed for a real-world exchange of experiences and ideas.

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