Enabling Product Managers from GfK to think and act as such via Product Management Coaching

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The Client: GfK

GfK (short for Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung, or "Society for Consumer Research" in English) is a market research company that provides data and insights to businesses and organizations around the world. The company was founded in 1934 in Germany and is now headquartered in Nuremberg, Germany.

Their goal is to help companies to make better-informed decisions about product development, marketing, sales, and other strategic decisions by providing them with a wide range of research services and data analysis tools.

GfK's main focus is on providing market research and consumer insights to businesses in a variety of industries, including consumer goods, retail, healthcare, technology, and media. They conduct research through a variety of methods, including surveys, focus groups, and online research. They also use big data analytics and other advanced techniques to gather and analyze data.

The Mission: Product Management Coaching

We joined GfK in August 2022 as Product Management Coaches. The Vice President for Industry Insights & Product Development Practice instructed us on three main pillars the Product Managers at GfK struggled the most with.

  • Speaking in terms of Value
  • Cross-Functional Product Discovery
  • Stakeholder Management

The goal was to increase the confidence in their ability to use frameworks, best practices, and tools in these areas. While the coaching had clear objectives and key results attached, coaching happened very individually based on the experience and challenges of the individual or team. In other words, our aim was to do a cultural transformation in Gfk's way of approaching product discovery.

Our Main Quest: Coaching Sessions

We started with the coaching sessions in August 2022 until March 2023. To achieve the best results in our quest, we decided to divide the coaching journey into three different formats: 1:1 coaching, Product Clinic, and Process Coaching.

1:1 Coaching


During the 8 months that our mission with GFK lasted, we worked on three different topics in the 1:1 coaching sessions:

  • Speaking in Terms of Value
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Cross-Functional Product Discovery


Every coaching topic had its own set of objectives and key results.

Together with the champion we set the OKRs to be able to track our progress and know if the sessions we were providing were valuable and useful. The OKRs were:

Speaking in Terms of Value

  • O: Product Managers speak in terms of value: KR 1: All Product Managers the coach worked with speak in terms of value, and work with defined and measured OKRs that clearly align with company objectives. All roadmaps and user stories include outcomes. KR 2: 100% of all product discovery steps and decisions are documented in Sharepoint, for each step/decision, there is data/insights that led to that step/decision, clearly linking the decision to value
  • O: Items prioritized for delivery have a cross-functional discovery process behind them every one on the squad (and beyond) can refer back to. KR 1: All product discovery processes the coach facilitated include engineering and data science (from the start), including clearly defined persona/s, clearly defined job map of the problem, press release, lean canvas, all research conducted (raw data, analysis, synthesis), and a simple overview: problem (user needs), exploration/research, problem re/definition, ideation, prototyping, testing. This is all saved in Sharepoint and easily accessible to all functions
  • O: Members of the cross-functional squad feel involved, empowered, are aware of / can articulate the process and justify decisions that were made along the way. KR 1:  In a survey at the end of each discovery cycle, discovery squad members report perceived improvement of Cross-functional collaboration, Clarity on the process and their role in it, Awareness/understanding of value-based decisions made

Stakeholder Management

  • O: Setting clear expectations steeped in the stakeholder values- cash flow, growth, scalability, cost efficiency, differentiation, competitive benchmarking, customer voices. KR 1: PMs can derive clear exec summaries that set the stage for deeper dives. KR 2: PMs are keen to ask questions to gauge understanding. KR 3: PMs frame their discussions with concise requirements and updates. KR 4: PMs keep stakeholders on the topic and ask for decisions. KR 5: PMs are providing pre-reads and summary minutes (decisions made)

Cross-Functional Product Discovery

  • O: Increase individual’s confidence & competence in leading cross-functional product discovery. KR 1: Increased confidence in their ability to follow the double-diamond approach to product discovery. KR 2: Awareness of frameworks available / commonly used in product discovery. KR 3: Increased confidence to explain the value of cross-functional product discovery to other functions


While the champion enabled the coaching, it was the VPs job to nominate participants. All three VPs were eager to send their participants of various levels from product Owner to Product Director.

We would do one 1:1 coaching session per week, for 4 weeks, resulting in 4 hours of personalized coaching with our Group Product Manager.

We decided to follow a semi-structured approach, focused on a specific topic. The goal of this format was to increase individuals’ confidence and competence in relation to a specific topic.

Interaction Structure

  • Session 1: The Product Manager introduces himself, his role, his team, his recent projects, and challenges related to speaking in terms of value and making value-prioritized decisions.
  • Session 2: The coach shares common frameworks and approaches that may be useful to apply in the context of the given person/workstream.
  • Session 3: in this session, the coach would give three different options: tp do a retrospective plus approach lookalike, to solve a live challenge related to a coaching topic or the coach would suggest the topic of the session based on previous interactions
  • Session 4: in this session, the coach would suggest a topic to the Product Manager based on the three previous sessions.


*Would you recommend coaching on stakeholder management to other people in your team? ( 0=not at all, 10=absolutely yes)**How much value did you get from coaching? 10 = Maximum value 1 = Absolutely no value

These are some of the reviews from the coachees:

💡 It empowers you to think from a different perspective and see things from a different angle.
💡 Coaching helped me learn about a concept that allows influencing product-prioritization sessions based on well-funded and comprehensible reasoning.
💡 I would say that these sessions with Alex were the most useful trainings because they were connected to my daily work, in practice not only theory.

Product Clinic - How to work with a Lean Canvas

The second format we worked with GFK was the Product Clinic format. The objective of this format was to apply the best practices on cases that the different teams were struggling with.

It was a cross-functional invitation to a 60-minute online session of voluntary participation.

For this format, we focused on a specific workstream, how to work with a Lean Canvas. The coach led and drove the discussion about options for best practices approach in each particular case.

How to work with a Lean Canvas was of particular interest as for every major initiative Product Managers had to craft a Lean Canvas to be able to successfully defend the initiative.

We held 2 Product Clinics working each time on a team-specific Lean Canvas that got improved during the session.

Participants enjoyed these sessions, leaving not only with the knowledge of how to improve the Lean Canvas further but already with an improved one.

Process Coaching - Product Discovery

Besides the 1:1 coaching in Cross-Functional Product Discovery, we got asked to help a dedicated team more hands-on via Process Coaching in Product Discovery.

The coach worked with a single team alongside a product manager for two hours a week for multiple months to help with product discovery processes. The coach ensured that the process is hypotheses-driven, client-centric, cross-functional, and follows the double-diamond logic. They included all relevant functions, promoted best practices, and value-based decision-making. The coach also provided feedback, advised, and consulted on specific issues and challenges, while proactively sharing methods and best practice examples. The goal was to ensure that everyone sees the value of product discovery and that it is visible throughout the entire organization.

Very specifically we helped the team to launch surveys faster, built user personas, prepare interview scripts, and to inform stakeholders about the insights and learning via monthly updates.

Mission Achievements: Delivered Outcomes

💡 Coached 40 Product Managers, Product Owners, and Heads of Product throughout 8 months with an average recommendation score of 8.

In the Client's Own Words

Space Crew of this Mission

VP/Director/Head of Product
Senior Product Management Consultant

For Clients: When to Hire Us

You can hire us as an Interim/Freelance Product Manager or Product Owner

It takes, on average, three to nine months to find the right Product Manager to hire as a full-time employee. In the meantime, someone needs to fill in the void: drive cross-functional initiatives, decide what is worth building, and help the development team deliver the best outcomes.
If you're looking for a great Product Manager / Product Owner to join your team ASAP, Product People is a good plug-and-play solution to bridge the gap.