DevReady PodcastInnovate for Growth – EP 102 – DevReady Podcast

In this episode of the DevReady Podcast, our hosts Andrew Romeo and Anthony Sapountzis are joined by Guy Brunsdon, Founder and Managing Director of Sazoma Systems. Guy is a technologist and a product leader with global experience—from Silicon Valley (USA) to Cambridge (UK) to Australia. In this podcast episode, Guy talks to our hosts about his extensive networking and product management career and how he strives to help people discover and create cutting-edge products, services, and solutions from conception to launch that solve their most critical customer problems.

Guy starts by sharing how he got into networking, and it is serendipitous—one of the networking people left the company, and he filled the role. That ended up directing his career to a large extent.  Guy’s career has stood the test of time, from having lived through the burst of the dot-com bubble to moving to the US amidst the chaos of 9/11 and massive layoffs in the industry. 

When it comes to product management, Guy talks about the importance of understanding that growth is sales-led as opposed to being product led. He adds that technical marketing is valuable in ensuring products have a market. Citing his decades of experience, he says these are important to consider:

  • Simplicity is the key
  • Focus on the discovery process
  • Don’t find a problem that fits a solution

Expanding on the last point, he shares that people are eager to believe that their solution is the best and that everyone should buy it instead of solving a problem that exists. No wonder, he says, that digital transformations fail. 

Guy is a proponent of simplicity, moving from the problem space to the solution space and not vice versa, jobs theory and systems theory. 

Topics Covered
  • Background in Networking 
  • Product Management
  • Sales-led growth as opposed to product-led growth
  • Challenges faced
  • The secret to Cisco’s success
  • Don’t find a problem that fits a solution
  • Focus on the discovery process 
  • Why do products and digital transformations fail?
  • Jobs Theory 
  • Systems Thinking
Key Quotes (Time Stamps)
  • “I fell into networking when the networking guy left one of my first employers, and that sort of directed where I ended up going.” (1:23 – 1:31)
  • “The important thing is we had air cover, we had a great culture, we had a great team of people and a unifying vision for how we got there.” (2:56 – 3:03)
  • “What is the objective of all this? What’s the job of this? And you know, I built a network or we built a network: what’s the objective? You don’t do it just for the sake of building a network. You’re building it as a service to the business. So, the job of that network is to provide a service to connect people on applications, etc. See-through that lens, and things become far clearer on how you define, architect, and so on.” (3:32 – 4:01)
  • “I am a real proponent of the job-theory thing. So, people hire a product to get the job done.  You don’t buy a product. You don’t focus on the product. It’s about what it does for you.” (4:17 – 4:27)
  • In fact, three days before I land, Cisco—and I was working for Cisco—had their first ever layoff.” (5:58 – 6:05)
  • “In those larger companies, there’s this term called technical marketing. So, it makes the complex easy to consume.” (10:11 – 10:17)
  • “You are trying to aid the absorption of the products which are incredibly complex. You let the marketing people do the awareness, and then it’s your job to improve the absorption of aspects, the learning of it, and get them, ah yes, I know.  Then the checkbox goes on, I’ll buy that.” (10:38 – 10:57)
  • “Everyone talks about product-led growth. It’s not product-led growth, it’s sales-led growth.” (17:59 – 18:03) 
  • “I am very much an advocate for that whole journey where you have the awareness, the learning, the buying, the usage, and so forth and those variations. And every one of those stages has an off-ramp that if you don’t do it correctly, you are not going to get the win, you are not going to get the purchase.” (19:10 – 19:27) 
  • “They (Cisco) could nut it out—discover what real problems were and determine if there were real markets for these—that it’s viable and usable and if there are people willing to pay. So, they checked off all the boxes.” (25:41 – 25:57)
  • “It was not some magical thing. They were really good at what they did.” (26:00 – 26:03) 
  • “You need to spend enough time in the Problem Space to understand it before you head into the Solution Space.” (26:52 – 26:58) 
  • “When doing that discovery, you need to have a few things in your favour: doing it face to face, I think, is always advantageous if you can meet with someone. Because they’ll tell you more when you’re face to face versus online.” (28:54 – 29:08)
  • “Having the right circumstances so you can get the free flow of ideas, understand their problems and so forth is just vitally important.” (30:01 – 30:09)
  • “If you go to the number one cause, it’s not just me saying this. McKinsey and others say this. The number one cause of digital transformation failures is fuzzy definitions.” (34:45 – 34:57) 
  • “Do one thing well before you try and boil the ocean. Don’t try and boil the ocean and do everything. You sprinkle pixie dust everywhere. That’s never going to get there. Do one thing well to a point where everyone thinks what you are doing is great. Then go to the next thing to the next thing to the next thing.” (33:50 – 34:03) 
  • “Clarity is very important because at the end of the day, you want some sort of vision as well to come out of this. Visions become those rallying points that everyone sees. Yeah, that’s where we’re going. The clarity about that helps people. It needs you to become empowered as well to get there as well—that’s the destination.” (35:20 – 35:41)
  • “One of the key reasons products go off course is people don’t agree on the problem.” (36:01 – 36:07) 
  • “There’s a tendency to just concentrate on your product. Every problem requires my product. But hang on. You have to stand back and think about what you are trying to get done. And a lot of those jobs that you want to get done are enduring.” (41:05 – 41:21)
Social Media Clips (Time Stamps)
  • Guy’s Background and Learnings in Networking (0:56 – 4:38)
  • Entering the start-up space with Context Relevant (12:41 – 13:40)
  • Going back to Cisco (13:41 – 15:13)
  • Australia and product management (15:15 – 16:45)
  • Challenges when launching products (17:18 – 22:09)
  • What led to Cisco’s success?  (24:30 – 26:03) 
  • Move from a problem space to a solution space (26:56 – 28:14)
  • Why do products and digital transformations fail? (30:20 – 36:07)
  • Systems Thinking (43:16 – 47:38) 

Guy Brunsdon | LinkedIn

Sazoma Systems | Website

Cisco | LinkedIn

Cisco | Website
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