Darryl coaches product and technology executives, product management teams, and agile development organisations. He also helps software companies as interim Chief Product Officer (CPO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to address company-level product / market / engineering / revenue / technology issues.
A seasoned technology executive and entrepreneur, Darryl has been the “product guy” and “technology guy” at small, medium, and large organisations, at every stage of development: from start-up to rapid growth to market leader to vision transition to acquisition. He is a relentless blogger, teacher, and mentor on software strategy, product management, and aligning what firms build with what markets will pay for, all the while keeping in mind the big picture of making the world a better place.
Darryl has consulted to companies on:
- Org structure. How do we assemble, grow, and mentor great product teams? How do we divide tasks among the myriad roles – product managers, product owners, product marketers, product salespeople? As engineering organisations go through various combinations of agile / lean / Scrum / Kanban / teams / the-latest-flavour-of-the-month, how can product management ensure technical decision-making is aligned with the right market insights?
- Product leadership. How are Director of Product / VP of Product / Chief Product Officer (CPO) / Head of Product roles and their teams different from individual product management? What skills, tools, techniques, recruiting approaches, and mentoring models do they need? How do we “sell” the value of good product management to stakeholders that focus elsewhere?
- Scaling. Larger companies face product/portfolio issues more complex than single product players. How should you balance competing interests, competing priorities, and technology roadmaps? How can we understand and use the inevitable conflicts of big product teams to our advantage?
- Product-specific / company-specific issues. Often, these include onsite workshops with key players (product, engineering, marketing, executives) to untangle knotty problems or provide a unique outside perspective. Sometimes just seeing a problem from another angle can lead to important insights and breakthroughs.
Unofficially, Darryl is a sounding board for early stage innovation executives. On the side, he mentors some up-and-coming software architects and product managers.
Making Sense is Darryl’s blog on software, innovation, product strategies, and pragmatic advice for product managers. Darryl is also writing and collecting material for a book with the working title “Making Sense of Product Management”, to be published once he is confident the ideas have been adequately road tested and validated.
Darryl regularly attends technology investor meetups in Sydney and major conferences around the world such as South by South West (SXSW) in Austin, Texas and Mind The Product in Singapore. These provide opportunities to network, teach, learn, and share.
Darryl has a background of achievement in both business and technology.
Darryl earned his software stripes writing C and C++ at Standards Australia. He did a stint working in the UK between 1997 and 2001, for one year at Market Solutions (later Onyx Software) on CRM systems for Bass Brewers and Lloyds Bank and three years at ICL (now Fujitsu Services). At ICL Darryl worked on a variety of retail, POS, and back office systems for clients including Vision Express and Rank Holidays Group, and in 2000-2001 he was the technical lead for development of the in-store picking solution for the first iteration of grocery home shopping by Tesco.com, the UK’s largest supermarket chain. The system used barcode scanners and touch-screen tablets (way before the iPad), was successfully rolled out to hundreds of Tesco stores across the UK and was later commercialised into international grocery markets including the USA and South Korea.
After returning to Australia, Darryl spent 15 years at iSolutions International Pty Ltd, where he was part of the journey from start-up through to acquisition.
At iSolutions, Darryl filled just about every role – developer, tester, technical lead, solution architect, project manager, consultant, trainer, technical writer, marketer, salesperson, CTO, COO – but more importantly, Darryl was a key player for over a decade in the executive team, guiding the company from start-up with one client, through the fraught territory of rapid growth, to international player, and finally taking lead roles during the rigorous acquisition process by RPM Global, a publicly-listed Australian software company (ASX:RUL). Darryl stayed on with RPM Global for a couple of years in several capacities, primarily to ensure a smooth transition of people, business operations, architecture and domain specific knowledge, and intellectual property around asset management product and service offerings.
Since mid-2018, Darryl has been an interim executive, consultant and adviser to multiple early-stage companies. He has written extensively throughout his career, authoring training programmes, product documentation, thought-leadership articles, case studies and product roadmaps. He regularly blogs on all things product-related at DarrylSmith.org and he is currently writing and collecting material for a book with associated toolkits, with the working title “Making Sense of Product Management”.
Darryl has a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics, Computer Science), a Master of IT (Software Engineering), and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Astronomy with a thesis on the multi-cultural origins of the Scientific Revolution.
We believe our values drive our work. Our values include:
- Agility: We embrace change and apply an agile mindset to everything we do
- Diversity: We get strength from including as many perspectives as possible
- Partnerships: We are invested in our customer’s success
- Learning: We love learning new things and constantly adjust our beliefs based on new evidence
- Social Conscience: We really do want to make the world a better place
We understand that when partnering with someone outside your organisation like us you want to remain involved in the work. This is one reason we value agility. We bring open communication, respect, and commitment to everything we do. It’s why we seek your feedback and adapt our approach as we learn more, so that we can deliver outcomes beyond what you may have imagined at the beginning.
But that is not the only reason we insist on being agile. In the quickly evolving technology space, agility means we can respond to changing demands by adjusting work styles to suit different circumstances, and to build genuine multidisciplinary teams and networks of people who self-organise for optimum results. This in turns ensures that you as the customer gets more than just the “sum of the parts” of the skilled individuals we work with, to truly help you achieve – and hopefully exceed – your goals.
It is a common trap to surround oneself with like-minded people in an “information bubble”. Doing so inhibits our ability to break out of our normal modes of thinking to solve the big problems of technology and business. We need diversity and we have a responsibility to proactively make diversity happen. We very openly encourage diversity in all forms: race, religion, gender identity, marital status, culture, age, sexuality, disability. Strength comes from having a broad variety of ideas and backgrounds and we strive to live out that belief in our work and the teams we put together.
We like to have skin in the game and be invested in our customer’s success, because when the customer wins, we all win. We want you to remember us for helping with your “big picture” success, not just one-off wins or quick fixes for today’s problems that might leave you worse off in the longer run. We’re big on putting empathy into practice by putting ourselves in your shoes. We’ll do our best to advise you on solutions that can serve you best in the long, run because we want to work with you as a partner (not for you as an employee).
We value learning and have a burning desire for continuous improvement. The founders Bek and Darryl – as well as partners and others we work with – stay up to date by being visible in the business and technology worlds. We are often seen attending (or presenting) at conferences like Mind the Product, South by South West (SXSW), TedX, Leading the Product, and Microsoft Ignite. We have been known to drop into meetups at start-up hubs like Fishburners Sydney and the Sydney Business Hub. And we frequently brush up our skills at new technologies: for example, Bek has just completed formal training on Adobe Captivate for eLearning course material creation. You can be sure that if there’s a more efficient way to do things, we’ll be keen to learn about it, try it out, and share our experiences with you.
We believe careers are fulfilling if they truly make the world a better place: being successful at business is not incompatible with doing the right thing. In fact, we will always – without exception – do the right thing. We have values above and beyond what you’d expect to be on display in a professional workplace. You won’t find us working with companies with questionable ethics – we’ll just not get involved. This also means we hold ourselves and those we work with to the highest ethical standards.