Turner’s third Product Summit took place Thursday, October 12 in Atlanta.

Before the summit, our colleagues at TurnerNow—the company's internal employee site—got the inside story on what it’s all about from the two leaders who started it: Scott Doyne, SVP, Product Strategy at Turner and John Hashimoto, VP of Product Management/Global Verticals at CNN Digital. Check out their conversation below.

TurnerNow:

You used to be VP of Business Operations for NBA Digital. How has your position changed as SVP, Product Strategy?

Scott Doyne:

A lot. For the majority of my time at Turner I was in Turner Sports Group and I ran digital products and businesses for our NASCAR property and then for the NBA. Through that process, I met a lot of the other product leaders around the company and we always had a kinship and shared information with each other about how we did our jobs, but it wasn't until this position that it became my full-time job.

Now I have a team called Product Strategy and we work with the different product groups and we try to get them to be the best they can be for their own brand and business. A lot of that involves gathering best practices which is what the Summit's all about.

TN:

John, can you tell us a little about your role at Turner?

John Hashimoto:

I work at CNN Digital. My focus is on what we call our Premium Verticals: politics, money, travel, health, style and tech. Everything other than is what we call core news. The goal of my team is to create differentiated editorial products and services that are tailored to appeal to specific audiences -- and advertisers – in each content category.

TN:

How did the Product Summit start?

SD:

We had a group of product leaders that we were getting together with to share information and Alex Wellen from CNN introduced me to John, and John really had the idea for a summit. So I'll hand off there.

JH:

Scott, that's too kind. Yeah, the idea had been batting about the hallways of Turner and CNN for more than a year. I spoke to some other folks who ultimately ended up helping us put this all together, by the way.

Scott and I shared this idea of collaboration and sharing information and learning and getting better and more mature as a product organization across Turner. Thanks to Scott and Brandon Gill’s efforts, they’re trying to bring Bleacher and HBO into the fold to extend this collaboration model across all of Time Warner.

We felt like a summit or a gathering was the way to meet each other and then start to understand, "Oh you do video over there, I do video here. We should get together.”

SD:

This is our third version of it. The first one took place before the product strategy team even existed. The second one was this past February when it grew and got a little more sophisticated with some help from Turner Studios on event planning. This third one, Brandon is really leading and taking it to the next level with more activities, more people involved, external speakers and even some learning opportunities.

Panelists at Turner's 2017 Product Summit

TN:

What are some of your biggest takeaways from the Summit?

JH:

At CNN, we rarely have the opportunity to interact with the other brands, to hear a general manager talk about FilmStruck, as an example, or other innovative ideas or challenges they have as they go digital. I think that's been a huge opportunity. Seeing all of what's going on inside Turner is pretty rare because we tend to be pretty busy with news all day long.

It's also a real opportunity, particularly for the younger employees and even mid-career employees. They get to meet their product peers from sports and entertainment who are creating direct to consumer services or covering major sporting events in interactive ways with AR and VR. There's a lot of innovation that's going on and to be exposed to that, I think for both sides, is truly a bridge.

SD:

It’s about being greater than the sum of your parts. I think we also, from a timing standpoint, really stepped into a moment in Turner's history as we turn the corner into being this fan-centric data-based company. This is the group of product leaders that are going to lead us into that next chapter. They combine art and science to help produce the experiences that our fans consume our content through.

TN:

Is there anything besides collaboration that you guys want the teams to walk away with at the Product Summit?

SD:

I want them to take action. I think to be results oriented is very important for us as a product strategy team. It's not just advice, it's not just kumbaya. I think collaboration is the method in which people improve results and results that matter to our fans, results that matter to our bottom line.

TN:

What about you, John?

JH:

There's a “brass tacks” learning component that we're bringing to the table. This whole thing called product management is kind of a mystery to a lot of folks. Even some of us are doing it. What is a product manager? Are they project managers, are they GMs? It depends on who you ask, you get a lot of different answers with that.

When we come together like this, we pose questions like, "What is product management to you and your organization? What role do you have?" And then the thing we've done, and we can kind of further this mission, is actual just education, right? We also think it's important to address the blue-sky kind of questions like innovation and the next billion-dollar business.

TN:

In which direction do you guys hope the Product Summit goes? Do you guys want to fill huge ballrooms or do you want it to be a little more intimate?

SD:

I think it can extend across the entire company. And as more people embrace the “experience” side of what our company is responsible for, it's really going to be related to more people than they even realize. I think it will be a full company event over time and however big, however many divisions our company ends up with, it can extend.

JH:

As an example of how we've extended the tentacles out, we've brought in leads from Turner, Time Warner, and CNN seeded startups to talk about what it's like to be a startup from within, so to speak. The company has acquired, or partially invested in, or started up our own businesses. It's fascinating to hear the startup stories within a company like ours. That shows you how we're trying to extend out as much as possible to bring people together.

SD:

And to John's point, we're extending to include representatives from Warner Brothers and HBO this time. They're learning things that we can learn from, and we've done things they can learn from. There's no telling how big it can get but we're excited to have them coming in.

TN:

You mentioned extending to representatives from Warner Brothers and HBO. Is it difficult to involve them since they’re not in Atlanta or not part of Turner?

SD:

It's not difficult, it's just a concerted effort. In some ways, that's why the product strategy team exists. To try to understand the need to improve our efforts and stay ahead of the curb and lead the industry. And the best way to do that is to share best practices across the widest scope of possible. We’re in a position where we can spend time forming those relationships across the different divisions and help each other be successful.

TN:

In what ways can you see the Product Summit evolving?

SD:

One way is to get more people involved who don’t necessarily view themselves as product experts. We noticed in the survey after the last summit there are some people who are product experts or product leaders, and there are some people that are new to this space who haven't necessarily worked in digital products.

We want to make sure they feel welcome, so we're breaking the education session down into multiple tracks where you can self-select. If you want a “Product 101” because you need the introduction education, then go to that course. But if you want to work on what the sophisticated way of managing your product road map or managing within an agile development framework, we're going to have those as well.

We hope people either show up on that day, we have a lot of registrations, but it's also going to be available on a live stream globally. And that's another area where we're partnering with the international team out of London, and one of the speakers is actually coming from that office.