đź’ˇIn product management, there is a strong culture of adapting to change, testing, and rapid learning. Talking about change, we have a big big one ahead of us: climate change! How can product leaders include climate considerations into the build and run of digital services and scale sustainable practices? 
🎧In this episode, Gael interviewed two hands-on experts and daily practitioners in product management on how to become a climate-conscious PMs. Antonia Landi, based in Germany, is a strong voice in ProductOps, and François Burra, based in Canada, is the co-author of the Climate Product Management Playbook.
What product manager should consider? 🌱 Environmental impact throughout the product life cycle,
đź’» Minimalistic approach on user experience,  🎯 Climate-related OKRs and reducing costs through intentional data storage.
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Antonia and François' sources and other references mentioned in this episode:



Transcript

[00:00:00] Gaël Duez
Hello everyone. Welcome to Green IO with GaĂ«l Duez. That's me. Green IO is the podcast for responsible technologists building a greener digital world. One bite at a time, twice a month on a Tuesday, our guests from across the globe share insights, tools, and alternative approaches, enabling people within the tech sector and beyond to boost digital sustainability. And because accessible and transparent information is in the DNA of Green IO, all the references mentioned in this episode, as well as the transcript, will be in the show notes. You can find these notes on your favorite podcast platform and, of course, on the website greenio.tech 

Product managers have always lived in a world of contradictory injunctions. They are at the converging point of all requirements, business requirements, of course, and all the others. Let me illustrate with some sentences which might be familiar to many of you. We cannot launch feature X because I need some time to deal with my technical debt. Make sure your product is accessible and secure. We need to launch this proof of concept to test our hypothesis next week, but beware of being pixel perfect because of the risk for our brand image. Accessibility is key in our values. Such as innovation. So let's not miss the latest trend in virtual reality, et cetera. And now after cybersecurity, accessibility, performance, et cetera, a new wave is coming. Sustainability, with sentences like beware of your carbon budget. How much will this new feature impact our CSRD reporting? Watch out for greenwashing with these product claims. Did you check the W3C sustainability guidelines for your product? And product managers in charge of back end products are not off the hook. How does it perform with our API green score? Our cloud operations are too carbon intensive. Can we delay some process to enable carbon aware computing, or even better, grid aware computing? To be honest, I'm not that worried about the product management world succeeding eventually to overcome these new challenges. There is a great culture of adaptation to change, testing and fast learning in the product management line of work. The main questions are how and when, because time takes time with climate change. And many sustainability tools for product managers are still missing. Hence, a question for this episode is how to become a climate active product manager today, not tomorrow.

And to try answering it, I asked two hands-on experts and daily practitioners in product management to join our show today. Antonia Landi, a former Aviv Group colleague, has become one of the top voices in European product operations. Being a community person at heart, I can testify, and loving bringing people together, she leads Germany's only meetup for product operations in Berlin, where she's based. You can easily find her work online. She has written for publications like LeadDev, Product Alliance, and MindTheProduct. François Burra is a Canada based product lead and UX consultant, mentor, and speaker with 13 years of experience working with startups and agencies in North America. After taking almost a full year off following climate courses, he pivoted his career to fight the climate crisis. He now helps digital companies and product teams reduce their digital emissions via consulting, measurement, and training. And talking about training, I had the opportunity to meet him via the wonderful climate action tech community when he was presenting his newly released climate product management playbook, which was well received in this community and others. So welcome Antonia. Welcome François . It's a pleasure to have both of you on the show. 

[00:03:56] Antonia Landi 
It's a pleasure to be here. 

[00:03:58] François Burra 
Thank you for the invite, Gaël.

[00:04:00] Gaël Duez
 It's my pleasure. Thanks a lot for joining to set the stage. I would like to ask a general question about the context and the momentum. Why do you believe both of you that product managers have a unique opportunity and responsibility right now to embrace sustainability? Maybe François , you want to give the first shot? 

[00:04:23] François Burra
 Sure. I think product managers have a unique opportunity because their role, the sense of what they do is based on influencing. So whether it's influencing their team or even beyond their team, they collaborate with all departments across the organization, they tie the strategy with the execution. So they have these posts, like the way I see it visually, like a vertical and horizontal influence. And because of that, if they integrate sustainability as part of their vocabulary and part of their processes. Then suddenly it can shine throughout the whole organization. So that's why for me, they really have a unique opportunity to play a big role in making their job, a climate job and their company, a climate company.

[00:05:08] Antonia Landi
Yeah. I think to add to that, for me, PMs have a unique responsibility because we'll actually have, or should feel a unique responsibility, right? To make sustainability the forefront of what we do, and especially looking at the climate impact of tech off the everyday things we use, right? How? How sustainable is this? You're actually working on and how much could you actually meaningfully change. And if we all individually take small steps to take sustainability to the next level in our digital products, then together we can make a very big impact. So to me, that's exactly why we should be talking about this.

[00:05:53] Gaël Duez
Are more people talking about sustainability in product management these days than before? I mean, both of you, you're privileged witnesses in your industry. So is it still a happy fuse or do you see something a bit more general happening? 

[00:06:11] Antonia Landi
Yeah, I think for me, honestly, there's still not enough. I think there's definitely more than there was even a year ago, right? We are starting to think about sustainability in product management. We're starting to right shift left with sustainability, not do it after the fact, after a product has been created, but really as we create the product. But to me, it's still not nearly enough, honestly, like we are scratching the surface only just barely, which is also why I was so excited to have this happen to have this recording where we uniquely focus on what PMs can do. 

[00:06:51] François Burra
I 100% agree with Antonia. And thank you so much, GaĂ«l, for creating that space because we need more person like you and podcasts like you to raise awareness, not only on the topic of digital sustainability or green IT overall because being French, I have ties in Europe, but living in Canada and North America, I can see the gap that exists between those two markets. And I usually joke, or it's not necessarily funny, but that there's maybe a three, five, seven years gap in terms of awareness between the two continents. And when it comes to product management or climate positive best practices, we even behind I think he started more with designers and engineers, you know, this movement but product managers still are lagging behind those two roles. And that's why I got passionate about trying to do something about it because when I was in a position with a startup. That was borderline doing greenwashing without bad intentions, right? The leveraging of the marketing that would come with it and the benefits that comes with this. I was faced with a sense of not being able to properly address those concern or I was not educated and didn't have the tools to influence the company to do a better job and avoid implementing those practices that were not necessarily transparent, which reminded me of a company, a startup that I used to work with a few years back before I made my pivot to work as solely on the climate crisis as a PM. I didn't have the tools to properly see through the marketing strategy that we had, and basically we were making claims that we were environmentally friendly companies or aiming towards net-zero and so on and so forth. But purely basing on the whole strategy on offsets on carbon offsets without any other actions or awareness of what it means to be in a zero or try to fight climate change. And we were making those big claims to our users that if they were using our app, they would do a good gesture for the environment. And I always knew that matter was super high. Unfortunately, I didn't have the tool to properly educate people or push back against it. So it ended up being part of the strategy and released and everyone was leveraging it in our social network and so on. And that's also why I felt this frustration, this not necessarily anger, but this desire to start educating myself and, and with that, try to spread the message and raise your awareness for my peers. 

[00:09:31] Gaël Duez
It reminds me of a very personal story of a guy who had a very significant over several hundred millions of budget in a big company as a CTO or group CTO, you name it the way you want and didn't do that much because he just thought that it was all about asking AWS to be greener. I must admit this guy was me. And yet, François , it's interesting what you've described because it's really what Harriet Kingaby in a previous episode on greenwashing, she referred to it as unintentional greenwashing, like greenwashing was the best intention. It's just that you don't have a, like a master plan and with people with dark hoodies saying, "Oh, we're going to screw our customers." No, it's just. You believe this is the right stuff to do because you don't have the information and the basic information regarding offsetting is sorry dude but the civil aviation took all the available land on earth to plant trees to offset their only activities and there is no room left for any others so that's just the basic issue with offsetting but I still love this example.

[00:10:35] François Burra
Against planting trees. Right. 

[00:10:37] Gaël Duez
But yeah, it's super important. Yeah. It's super important to plant trees for sure, but it doesn't offset anything. It's just that it will help us to rebuild the carbon sink that we need so badly. And what about you, Antonia? 

[00:10:53] Antonia Landi
Yeah. I mean, just listening to you, François , like I worked at the sustainability startup for a little while. Like, our whole thing is it was a reusable shipping box, right? You could reuse hundreds and hundreds of times. It had some smart trackers and everything. Obviously there was an app, right? So even though our core mission was sustainability, recycling was enabling the circular economy by, I don't know, packing your old clothes in the box or dropping it off at the center, having a community around all that. It's stopped at that product. Right? Even back then, we weren't savvy enough to think about where our data is hosted? How much of this data do we actually need to host, right? How many iOS versions or Android versions are we supporting, right? Things that nowadays, after my own research, after sort of embedding myself more into these topics, seem almost like common sense to me, but even in such a climate active, I suppose, environment. We weren't even thinking about that because tech was always only seen as an enabler and not as one of the root causes, right?

[00:12:17] François Burra
I think there's something that I observed over the years, which is that people especially climate tech or sustainable companies because their whole mission is to deliver impact based on their mission, they forget that the why is not allowed to align with the way they do it. And they could implement the worst practice in terms of, like, digital, right? And yet the target, like, claims that they're doing a good thing for the word, but, it's kind of like this duality that is not well understood. And what I could observe is that the reason why the company is created and the how, which is how they build their software from a digital standpoint, because they implement the worst practices at the end of the day, backlash the whole reason why they were created in the first place, which is something that obviously. No one is perfect, right? So the intention is to try to do good in all areas of the company. And there's parts that would be more advanced than others, but it's important and that's what today is important to raise awareness about, like how you can build software and digital products because that could impact. I have a great impact and you need to be aware of it to lessen the negative impact that you can have while building and maintaining what is created to solve this valuable problem, the society.

[00:13:43] Gaël Duez
I think it's very valuable feedback that you share about this discrepancy between what we want to achieve, what we are truly doing, et cetera. But both of you are daily practitioners, so let's get our hands dirty. How can we become a climate active product manager today and what is sustainable product management?

[00:14:08] Antonia Landi
I think for me, sustainable product management really is, so I have this super basic definition of what product management is, right? It's delivering value to the user in a way that benefits our business. And to me, sustainable product management is in a way that benefits our business and our planet. I think ultimately sustainable product management starts from the moment you are identifying problems and scoping solutions, but it can run the whole gamut of, and this is something that people will not want to hear, right? But how much data are we storing and how much of that data are we actually looking at? And then, I mean, I addressed this beforehand, right? Like the implications of our product choices. How many mobile phone versions are we going to support with our app, right? And it becomes more and more narrow every single year. And the consequence of that is that we are excluding ourselves from people who want to have older and perfectly working phones. I think there are just many small knock on effects that we just need to play through in our minds. We just need to think through the ramifications of small choices like that.

[00:15:32] François Burra
Yeah, I love it. I think, as you said, like, we need to, as PM, consider the environment and sustainability as we used to think about the triptych technology design or user and business. And for me, we can see sustainability as the fourth pillar, or we can see it another way, which is kind of underlying conditions. So, if you apply those best practices will create a better experience, will create better technology because you learn faster, but also will drive better business results. So I kind of see this triangle like 3D shapes in my head right now, which may not make sense, but I think it's, we can really see it as something that will make your whole business and product better, but I think what is missing that we were referring to earlier is that because the awareness is is is lacking on the topic, we don't know the impact that we have. And if we start to line things together from an energy standpoint, carbon emission, water consumption and so on, then suddenly, we would've another lens to see the problem and other tools or reinforce the desire to implement the tools and the best practices that we all know that are good to implement. Right. So for me, that's where there is a huge opportunity for the PM. 

[00:16:49] Gaël Duez
Can you indulge us in a structured way to deep dive into what are the big bunks of stuff or actions or tasks that you would advise as an overview to pay attention to when you're a product manager, because Antonia mentioned the data. She, and that's very rare in our industry, mentioned the hardware and making sure that we are not part of the planned or even not planned, but just technical obsolescence problem that our industry is rigged by. So, wow. Big kudos for that. And François , how would you structure everything because this is exactly what you've done in your playbook.

[00:17:27] François Burra
To double down on what Antonia said, like the whole manufacturing, hardware, distribution, end of life and so on and so forth. That represents about two thirds of image emissions of the digital industry, right? So we cannot state enough in this podcast and in our lifetime, how big our impact, how big digital is physical. So to answer your question, GaĂ«l, with a playbook that we co-wrote with Antoine Cabot, with a friend of mine working at Salesforce in BC, Canada. We structure it around five chapters, but maybe we can focus on some of them for the sake of the discussion. 
The first one is to, as a PM, embed climate or sustainability as part of your rituals and it's all about how you choose the right metrics, how you track your digital footprint, how you include your planet into your product requirements documents, your briefs and so on and so forth. So that's the first chapter. 
The second chapter is how you build in a more mindful way. So thinking about the planet as a Persona, animals as a Persona. How you try to tie your strategy to sustainability, sustainable development goals and so on and so forth and how you avoid obsolescence tactics and how you can leverage AI in a sustainable way because. As much as we want to make sustainability a trend for PMs, right now, AI is like leading the race by far. So we have to see what use from this momentum that they have to do the same for sustainable topics for PMs. So anyway, that was the second chapter. 

The third chapter is like how to apply frugal minimalist best practices. So coming back to what Antonia was saying, like how you minimize the amount of data that is being transferred. How you simplify and build a straightforward user journey that avoids all the fluff, remove product loads, you remove features that are not used, you remove data that are not used, you remove scripts and components and so on and so forth and don't forget to kill features. 

The fourth chapter is about how to be more carbon aware and or read aware, but just as a concept that normally we should make sure that we consume the least amount of energy, but also the low carbon energy as much as possible. And we migrate your server or your hosting provider to choose a sustainable one and things like that. 

And the fifth pillar, and I'm going to stop here because there's so many things that we can talk about about each of those topics is to leverage your influence. As we said earlier, we have a huge influence internally, we have a huge influence in our ecosystem, in our value chain, the way we choose our partner whether it's to transport our e-commerce website, let's say who are we partnering to deliver our product? Are we choosing a provider with sustainable practices or who uses electric vehicles or like bikes even for delivery. 

So like all of that is kind of how we can use our influence internally and externally. And I think this is a power that usually we have, but we don't realize that we have it. And there's a big miss opportunity if we don't leverage it to the full extent. So those are the five chapters. 

[00:21:03] Gaël Duez
And thanks a lot for structuring it because now I'd like to play a little game with both of you, which is let's go for each chapter and pick one example that you would like to see widely adopted for each of these chapters. And of course, feel free to pick the chapters in whatever order you want. And Antonia, I might bet some money on which chapter will come first, but please feel free to start. 

[00:21:34] Antonia Landi
I mean, honestly, there were so many things that resonated with me as you were talking, but I think first and foremost, and this is something that I stress over and over again, right? Sustainable product management is also just good product management, right? Don't build things nobody needs, right? Get rid of that bloat. I love that you mentioned minimalism. But I think to me, this really comes in two different forms. One of them is really actually how we structure the user experience of our products. Like, Netflix, if you let it, it will just keep playing. Like, YouTube will just keep streaming. Same with Spotify, right? They are built to keep streaming high quality, expensive data, right? Because that's how they make their money. But that has a massive, massive climate impact. 

[00:22:58] Gaël Duez
And, I really love Antonia's idea of letting the user choose. And especially when you look at all these experiences with, as you mentioned, Netflix, YouTube, et cetera. In their values most of them is like do no harm provide the best possible experience when you say that one of the worst health crisis that the word is actually under and it's completely under the radar is a sleep crisis that we are literally destroying our health because with so much stimulated that we don't sleep enough in almost every country compared to the minimum requirement of our body. You could seriously challenge it if it's that much sustainable, offering people nonstop video and nonstop audio, at least without a message in some kind of action. I say, “Hey, by the way, you've just spent three hours.” It's 2 a. m. in the morning. Most of the people will go to bed at that time. Do you still want to like a bit like on the cigarette packet, but what was it your idea, Antonia? 

[00:24:07] Antonia Landi
So first of all, this also broadens the scope of sustainability, right? Is mental wellbeing part of sustainability as well? I'd like to think that's a part of it as well. But the second one, like now you're going into the... so I have made exactly this case of the climate impact of watching Netflix on your phone. Like, you download that episode, you're on a flight, whatever, watching Netflix on your phone. And two things usually happen, right? People are shocked at the impact of something so small and so mundane. And then people despair, right? Because it's like, well, I do this all day, every day. If we're in zoom calls, we're streaming data to each other just a whole entire time, right? What is the impact of that? But I think it's also realizing that yes, you might be contributing to the problem, right? Currently. And yes, there is this initial shock you have to go through to understand just how big the impact of our everyday actions with tech are. But all of this information, like all of us talking about this, isn't to make you feel bad about your daily habits. It's just to allow you to be more conscious in the future, to have that maybe sense of responsibility to have that just extra second where you think, well, hang on, do we really need this? Right. Can we give users an option? 

[00:25:48] Gaël Duez
So enable the user to pose and give them an option. I think it's a beautiful statement. François, do you want to go for the second round? What would be a very actionable idea or best practices that you'd like to share and where does it refer to in your framework, in your five chapters framework? 

[00:26:11] François Burra
Yeah, I actually wanted to react to what you were saying, because it was so interesting. I think GaĂ«l, you were referring to Netflix and the need to sleep, but I think it was a Netflix CEO that actually said that their biggest competitor is sleep. So I think it shows how problematic it is and how we can talk about sustainability and responsibility, but we do have an impact in many different ways. And that we need to embody that in a more responsible way. And then when we talked about do every new employee needs to have a brand new computer, and what do we do with existing IT fleet and equipment that we handle? For companies that have hundreds or thousands of employees, just thinking about the lifespan of their equipment, if they push, like sometimes there are internal policies that you may have seen every three years you have to change your computer because you have to be the best performer. And, we want employees to be productive. So we're going to change it every three years, right? If you push that to maybe four years or five years, the environmental impact of that measure, that's kind of a simple quote unquote measure. Could be huge in the environment, considering what we talked about earlier about how much it costs the environment and the planet to build new devices and equipment. So that's 1 example that you can take as you could be the CTO in charge of that. There could be many people responsible for that type of decision, but this is super critical. And coming back to the next example, again, about autoplay, which is an environmental disaster, and only because of the example we just talked about, there's two practical ways you can fight against it. And I saw it with a client that I'm working with at the moment for the past few months, they are a media platform. And basically there's two ways you can approach it. Either you ban autoplay or you avoid it as much as possible, which is not necessarily the most acceptable way. But another way to look at it, and by no means it's perfect, right, is to instead of launching the video, the autoplay after three seconds, where the user basically doesn't have a choice because it goes so fast that it just happened, right? Maybe can you extend it by 5 seconds or 10 seconds, 15 seconds? So at least you give the user the control, the power. To reflect on that and maybe there is a chance also to educate the user. Hey, is it time to sleep? Or hey, do you know the environmental toll that streaming has? So the intention here is not to blame users and put the responsibility on them. It's us as digital creators and builders that need to build by default something that is green, right? Or sustainable. But there's so many ways that when you start understanding the problems and become an expert of the problem, and that's all about being a PM, right? You have to become an expert of the problem because before you become. Expert of the solution. So when you add sustainability into your framework, then suddenly you can have new creative solutions to embed into your product. And that's what I find fascinating. It's not like something more that you have to add to your day that is kind of bothering you and you have to make it fit. It's something that can unlock new possibilities and make your product better. 

[00:29:25] Gaël Duez
If I'm allowed to bounce back on what you say, François, you use the word framework, and I reckon an entire chapter is dedicated to culture, rituals, etc. And I know for you and Antonia, how pivotal this culture question is starting with you, François , what would be a good idea, a good practice to entrench the sustainability mindset in product management?

[00:29:55] François Burra
There's different ways you can surface climate into your product. And we can start with OKRs. I think we were talking about OKRs before the show started. You can take those as opportunities, right? Either you have a company that is mature enough that you can be sustainable. Or climate related OKRs, like we want to reduce our footprint by 10 percent by the end of the year and then you break it down and you kind of see how you can reach that goal or you have non-climate OKRs, let's say, increased revenue or reduced costs, but when you talk about that, like when you break it down, reduced costs, probably like if you're a big tech company, cloud expenditure, it's probably a big center cost, right? Cost center, sorry. And why is that? Because you store a lot of data and oh, okay, so how can we reduce that data stored and, and see how we can be more intentional in the way we store what we need and what we, and not store what we don't need? And then suddenly like you become more aware of the lifecycle of data and then you can remove things that are not needed because as Antonia said earlier, like you don't need all the information about users that churn five years ago about what they did on a specific day, right? And so when you become a bit more intentional and minimalist and like more specific about why we are storing this? And why are we building this? And why do we keep this feature that serves no one suddenly like you will trim down your product, make it lighter, maybe make it faster, remove the fluff, trim images, compress and so on and so forth. And then, oh, well, we just reduce the cost of our cloud infrastructure by 5, 10, 20 percent and that feeds this. Okay. This is about the bottom line and we didn't talk about sustainability, right? We just did. What is what makes sense? But at the end of the day, we have a climate impact. So I think either you need a conversation with environmental topics, or you just find the opportunities within existing strategy, given that most of I don't want to overgeneralize most of sustainable and climate best practices for PM or for digital folks there. Is good for the business and the product, and there's other ways you can do it, but you can set carbon budget when you release a new feature to make sure that you track this you track and you make assumption and projection about how much a feature could, could wait in, in term of carbon and when it's released, like making sure that it doesn't exceed the sets, an amount of carbon emitted. So you stay within a range of an acceptable amount of carbon emitted. You can look at page weight. There's a page weight budget as well. There's tools out there that can help you to build pages that are not exciting. Let's say two meg or three meg per page. And that's a way that you can embed. The discussion with your folks, like definition of done and acceptance criteria with the designers and developers and start to make them part of the discussion and challenge them with them with this. And that should be something that excites them as well.

[00:32:58] Antonia Landi
Yeah, I think for my side to add to that, like honestly, if you're really serious about this, make it a prioritization metric. Just like everything else, right? You, we talk about complexity, we talk about the size of the problem space, we talk about the projected ARR, right? If you've identified a really exciting new feature that might make you a million in ARR, and was terrible for the planet, are you still committing to doing that? And I think it is. We do have to retain a certain pragmatic approach in that everything's a trade off. Some things you might identify as an organization. We do not want to compromise on the specific part of the user experience, but we're going to do our best to do everything else everywhere else, right? It is right. It's not about despairing. It's not about we're doing everything wrong. It's really just about educating yourself, understanding your trade offs and then making them a reality, right? Like embedding them in the product management process, right? This is the future we've planned. This is how it's going to positively or negatively affect our climate bottom line.

[00:34:14] Gaël Duez
We mentioned OKR. We mentioned how it needs to be ritualized in the definition of dawn, etcetera. I have a low ball for you because I'm still struggling with this one. And don't get me wrong. It's already super hard to get a key results around carbon budget, page weight, carbon footprint, you name it, whatever, but we know that if you're a frontend, I would say product manager and I'm struggling to find a proper key result that could be connected to an overall sustainably objective about how we make sure that we do not contribute to technical obsolescence. 

[00:35:02] Antonia Landi
I think the perfect one is going to be difficult, but off the top of my head I would probably more likely look at the percentage of people included or excluded if you move up, let's say an iOS version, or if you move up a certain OS requirement and then it becomes about inclusivity as well, right? It becomes about how many people on the planet can use your product. And at that point, I don't know why people aren't thinking about this more, right? Like I used to work at the startup here in Berlin that had a fitness app and they purposefully wanted to exclude older versions because that was like a more premium thing now. Our app is only for people with new phones, right? But I think I would rather think about the percentage, right? Set a target percentage for the cement of people on the planet who can use our app rather than set specific targets for near specific versions, for example. 

[00:36:09] François Burra
Yeah, we tend to agree. I think we can look at versions being like, Oh, I covered the five latest versions of this OS and maybe I could go to five or like six or seven or eight, ten, right? Or we can just be a bit more diligent and thoughtful about, okay, who are our users? Like, how are they distributed amongst OS and versions and so on and so forth. And then, with this kind of idea, like percentage in mind and distribution in mind. Then we can, if we are delivering a good experience and we can be more specific about defining good for each company. But if we only cover a good experience for like 90% of our users, how can we make sure that the 10% others are also, even if they're run on old OS or equipment, then they can have the best version of the app. And if they can, because the device itself cannot support the most flashy features that you offer to the latest iPhone, then how you degrade or adapt rather the experience so that they could do everything that they need to do, but maybe in a more streamlined and minimalist way again, and I will go even beyond and that may be in the sense that by designing our software, we exclude people from the get go. So how can we go even by making our app or product even more accessible? We can increase our target market, right? Because suddenly if let's say we support a bank application, support transactions by SMS or by text messages, right? How much more we can unlock new customers and acquire a new target audience, right? So I think we also have to see the opportunities and not just be constrained by existing users. Let's think about non users as well. 

[00:38:02] Gaël Duez
I'm very relieved François because I was afraid I was once again about to make a lecture on the survival bias and the fact that countlessly people were telling me this is our audiences is what we should focus on and I'm what was always like, you know, the survival by years, the plane, blah, blah, blah, World War II anyway, is there any one last darling best practices that you love to share, whether it's about culture, whether it's about onboarding your CEO. You name it.

[00:38:30] Antonia Landi
I mean, for me, like again, it's this ecosystem thinking, right? Like it's not just the digital products we build, it's how we build them. And, this is such a stupid example, but do you have oat milk or do you have almond milk in your office? Right? Like it takes a huge amount of water to produce an almond, which you then squeeze desperately trying to get something akin to milk for your vegan and lactose intolerant friends. What do you have? Reusable cups? Or do you have mugs? Where does the recycling go? Like even at this workshop I was giving a talk on sustainability and there was nowhere to recycle my paper cup. And that was awful to me. And it's just these little details that make up the entire environment of how we produce digital products that matters. 

[00:39:31] François Burra
Yeah, absolutely. As for me, I think as we stated at the beginning of this talk we have an issue right now that this is still the best kept secret, right? Like the impact of sustainability of digital products on the sustainability of the environment and the planet. So let's get people talking. There's plenty of people that care about this topic, and the more you dive in, the more experts you discover, and there's experts on sustainability everywhere around the world. So please invite some local folks to do talks at your company, and do a workshop about the environment like there is the digital collage that probably has folks around you that can come and speak about the interconnection between climate and sustainable products, digital products. Sorry. So I really started making this topic more broadly talked about. And maybe one thing that I really want to put a focus on by making your product emitting less emissions by using the least amount of energy you will get a product that will be faster that would perform better if you have an e-commerce platform, it would convert better as well, because the experience would be so smooth, regardless of the design, the device and the user satisfaction would be higher. Retention would be higher. And so suddenly with those product benefits that we're kind of starting to line up together, then they materialize into business benefits because your product will be differentiated. You would increase your margin. You will increase revenue. You would acquire more users, as we just said before. And considering the newest generation like the Gen Z and so on and so forth, they were raised and they are being raised with eco anxiety, so if your brand doesn't care about climate or he's using leveraging greenwashing tactics, it's likely that they probably some of them at least would not like to work for you. So from a talent attraction and retention standpoint as well as customer traction and retention, like climate needs to be part of your strategy. Like all jobs is a climate job and all companies are climate companies because you don't live in a bubble. We live on the same earth, right? So that's really something that I would love people to understand. We're not just like a pure environmentalist, you know, eating grass and feeding yourself with sun, right? There are ways that you can have the right value and serve your career, serve your business, serve your product and your users better. 

[00:42:02] Gaël Duez
One last question before we close the podcast. So we talked a lot about tactics at product management levels. We talked about OKR. We talked about the carbon budget. We talked about using some key results, the weight making sure that you can use your apps or your products on multiple equipment platforms. There is still something that I believe is related to what you said about leveraging your influence because product managers tend to have quite a lot of influence within a company. And it's how do you pitch your boss? How do you pitch your CEO? And, you've stated both of you that the sustainability momentum is getting traction, but it's not that big yet. And let's be honest, it's usually not among top business people that it's the biggest. And when you start traveling outside some places, you discover places where it's just simply not there at all. So how do you pitch your boss and do we always have this fight or this competition between sustainability in business and here I would like to set apart an unsustainable business model. Obviously, if you are drilling for more oil and that you have no transition plan and that you want 2 100 to do exactly the same business. You can build the cleanest possible digital products IT stack, et cetera. You've got a bigger issue than just this very specific part of your activity, but for, I would say regular economic activities, is it that much tension between sustainability of business? 

[00:43:41] Antonia Landi
I mean, I think I'd go back to what François just said, right? Like it's actually just good business practice. You don't have to lead with sustainability, lead with lower costs, right? Client computing, especially like that, is always a huge bill. Lead with improved UX, right? Lead with more people who can use our product. And then by the way, this also means that we're lowering our footprint. By the way, this also means that we are now more mindful of what we store and how much we store and where we store it. And I've had to do this a lot doing, like, trying to get traction for mission important things under the guise of something else. But it's really just learning to speak the language that will resonate the most with your CEO, with your CTO, right? Getting that buy in and you can do it on such a small scale. You can do it for one feature, right? You can do it for, I don't know, the next AWS migration, because it's going to come sooner or later. I think almost using these valid business benefits as a Trojan horse to get people into the habit of thinking this way. And then honestly, before you know it, it is part of your culture. 

[00:45:03] François Burra
Antonia said it perfectly. I don't know what I can add to it, but choose the right metrics that can resonate with them. Because like, as we know sustainable product best practices can really feed into many areas and avoid moralizing. Like no one wants to be on the wrong side of an argument and create for more. There's so many examples that we didn't share today, but like big companies and smaller ones that are doing great things in that area. So look at what's happening around them and create for more, because maybe your competitor is actually starting to implement those practices. And suddenly, people will start to freak out because they're like, okay, they're doing it. So we should do it. And also waves a bit of the flag of some climate risks that come with it. There's a lot of regulation in Europe. There's not that many in North America and we need those to come like GDPR. It just came in a wave and suddenly everyone adapted to it. And so there's also that part of the equation that maybe it would resonate better with some people. And we don't want just negative doom and gloom, but you know, you need to approach benefits, opportunities, and risks to be part of this question. So I think we have many tools basically to be able to convey that point. And as you said, Antonia, if sustainability isn't even part of the discussion, be my guest that's also perfectly fine. 

[00:46:21] Gaël Duez
So thanks François , because there were a lot of tips. Fear of missing out is pretty cool. Climate risk and fear of regulation is pretty cool as well. I think finding the right allies is so true. I mean, it really depends on some companies. That's so true that your CFO will be your best friend or the ESG director will be or sustainably director will be your best friend. So that's a very good point. My last question before asking the traditional closing question will be, do you need that much permission to become a climate active product manager? 

[00:46:54] François Burra
If I may start on this one, Antonia, it's kind of interesting because I'm giving training at the moment. And the 2 assignments that I give to my fellows are 1 looking at the playbook and the 33 best practices in the playbook and looking at the ones they can implement without permission. And the one they can implement and sometimes it's either there may be, they can influence both implement and influence, and sometimes they can only want to do one of them. So absolutely there's so many things that you can do that are part of your job and you don't need the approval of anyone. And the second assignment that I give to them is how to pitch them internally, which is what we just talked about. And basically helping them to create a slide deck to pitch this topic internally and see how we can be tied to the strategy of the company. So yeah, it's just so on point.

[00:47:45] Gaël Duez
So you can say to your students, no need to use ChatGPT, just listen to the latest Green IO episode and you'll get a good grade. And what about you, Antonia? 

[00:47:57] Antonia Landi
Yeah. I mean, I'm all for asking for forgiveness rather than asking for permission. Even in product management, like there's so many of us that wouldn't be able to get to do the things we really want to do. Like, God forbid actually speak to some customers, right? You just need to find different ways of doing it. And like I say, use a Trojan horse if you need to go find it to get your job done without having to ask and don't even let anyone know. Right? Like once you have a strong enough case, that's when you can go talk about it. That's when you can go and say that, by the way, I've actually been doing this for the last month and it hasn't disrupted anything. So why don't we do this for all teams?I'm a huge, huge fan of this approach. 

[00:48:46] Gaël Duez
Thanks a lot. I love this approach as well. I'd like to ask you the final closing question, which is, would you share a positive piece of news regarding sustainability, maybe even sustainably in the IT sector? 

[00:49:01] Antonia Landi
Actually for me, the positive news is that this podcast is happening, that we're having this conversation, that I now got to know a whole other person who is so passionate about this topic. And I think this is the biggest marker of future success for me, because I think the more people talk about this, the more people with a meaningful voice talk about this and share really specific, actionable, real world strategies, the sooner we can get to a place where this is no longer a niche subject. 

[00:49:39] Gaël Duez
Great. I'm going to have a mainstream podcast now. I love it. 

[00:49:45] François Burra
I wish. That's all I wish for your podcast. I think my positive news will be in the same sense of what Antonia just said, I think two years back, because I admit by pivot, like not long ago in all respect, you know, like it was two, three years ago. When I talked about it, I was the only one, like, especially if I talk about my context in Montreal, Canada or North America, like when I talk about climate and products, people were just looking at me like, what are you talking about? But now, people reach out to me so that I talk about this topic and it's only my personal story. But I see that the momentum is shifting in North America. Like there's more lights shining on this topic. And before I had to push the topic everywhere so that maybe someone will pick up on it and talk about it, agree to talk to me about it. Now people reach out to me to talk about this topic. And I would hope and I would assume that is the same thing for many other person in that ecosystem, which I think just shows and demonstrate that there there is a momentum happening and that the awareness is slowly picking up and hopefully with the awareness, people will start taking action, which is at the end of the day, what we what we need because t o come back to your introduction, like we need to start acting now and not tomorrow.

[00:51:05] Gaël Duez
Thanks. It's great to see this momentum indeed. It was really cool to have you on the show today. There's very practical insights. I mean, I guess there are a lot of constants to be extracted by anyone working in the product management field. So I would say mission accomplished. Congratulations to both of you and I'm looking forward to continuing our discussion offline.

[00:51:30] Antonia Landi
It was lovely being here. Thank you for the invitation. 

[00:51:33] François Burra
Thank you, GaĂ«l. And great to meet you, Antonia. I think we have many more discussions to have together. 

[00:51:38] Antonia Landi
Absolutely.





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