Product at TableCheck: Moving toward one vision
A canoe experience in Mt. Fuji led Product Manager Lily Okamoto to embrace the company's North Star Metrics to empower worldwide hospitality
I went on a trip to Lake Kawaguchiko with my sister last December 2021 near Mt. Fuji. We decided to sign up for a canoe tour to see the sunrise and the majestic Mt. Fuji. It was 6 am in the morning, the sun was barely coming out, and the temperature was below 0 degrees.
The instructor casually joked that we might end up dropping into the icy water.
Even though I was scared and had reservations about whether my sister could paddle well or not, I summoned myself to just give my best. I decided to sit behind her so I could observe how she was paddling. She couldn’t see me nor hear me well as she was facing forward, but simply had to give her full trust to me.
The biggest surprise for me was finding out that you don’t need to paddle with a full force to move forward. I learned that you need to sync and use the same amount of paddling force as your riding partner, and agree which side of the canoe to paddle.
More importantly, you need to know where you are heading towards, and build trust with the person you are riding with as you achieve short term goals. I was able to trust my sister because the instructor made mini goals along the way.
Together and united by one goal, my sister and I arrived in the perfect spot to watch and experience all the glory of Mt. Fuji during sunrise.
TableCheck: Short-term goals to fulfill company mission
As a product manager at TableCheck, I believe the same theory applies to the work I do and to the overall company as well. In order for us to drive more impact and value to our clients, we need to work together and arm ourselves with the same vision.
Our mission is to empower worldwide hospitality and to become the no 1 restaurant booking and guest experience platform in the world. And to get to that goal, we all need to paddle towards the same destination. We need to set up short-term milestones and clear KPIs to not lose sight of our original goal.
From North Star metrics to getting to our destination
After clarifying our goals, we need to set up a way to measure our success. In the world of product management, we call this North Star Metrics or NSM. We want to help merchants drive more reservations and maximize floor usage.
The NSM is important because every time there is a conflict of interest, or we digress from our priorities, we can always refer back to it.
This practice forces us to remember where we are heading towards. That’s the same story about the canoe experience. You know where you are heading towards: you might hit a current, you might hit a rock, strong sun blocking your view, and you adjust your route, but you shouldn’t forget where you are heading towards.
At TableCheck, we broke down our huge team (which includes product, IT and design) into smaller squads. Each squad focuses on helping merchants achieve a certain objective.
From enhancing the guest booking journey, optimize daily business operation and management, each squad will work towards the shared product vision and will be tied back to the overall mission of the company, to be no 1 in the world. And each team will have their success metrics that will be tied back to the NSM.
We will check in on each other once a month. If there are canoes that need help, our squads will adjust to the current. Some might slow down to come to help and push others. No matter what happens, together we’ll head towards our destination.
About the Author
Lily is the Lead Product Manager at TableCheck. Her passion is to deliver delightful product experiences to merchants. She values differences in people and cultures gained through her international experiences living and working in Japan and abroad (Canada, UAE, US).
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