Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Can you produce Apple-quality products and experiences using the highly autonomous environment you see at Google?

Here is what I think: I am not sure if Apple was popular for products or because Steve Jobs was selling its products. Moreover, how do we know if Google is not popular. 

I have an iPhone, iPad, and Macbook at home for personal use. However, most of my work happens on Google's software (Chrome, Google Search, Gmail, Drive, etc.). Google software ecosystem is phenomenal and works really well. The latest android update ‘Marshmallow’ move android phone experience at par with Apple. More devices in the world run on Android than iOS. Therefore, to deduce that autonomy decreases quality would not be fair. 

Apple could work and became successful in autonomous mode because of the brilliance and thought leadership of Steve Jobs. The new product line from Apple after Steve’s death does not excite me anymore. Perhaps, in couple of years Apple will look for a new CEO. The downside with autonomous companies are their dependence on a leader to handhold the employees. Google on the other hand can work with any CEO with very limited oversight or direction and continue developing breakthrough products. 

I think none of the approach is right or wrong; we will find successful companies across the spectrum - with Google on one end and Apple on another.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Key Takeaways from Product Management + UX Conference

I attended Rosenfeld Media's Product Management + UX Conference

Below are some of the key takeaways:

You are not building software, you are changing the world by solving people's problems! 

On product strategy and teams:
  • Strategy is essentially an intent rather than a plan.
  • There is no such thing as UX strategy, technology strategy, or business strategy. There is only one strategy, it’s called product strategy.
  • We build collaborative teams. We emphasize skills not roles, therefore, we must emphasize comprehensive strategy, not discipline specific strategy.
  • The real problem in organizations: a lack of organizational value for UX design. Bring UX to the table!
  • Core product team consists of PM, UX, and Lead Engineer. All of them have common goals and concerns and need each other’s support and help to achieve success.

How UX can influence executive decisions:
1. Understand ALL aspects of the business (finance, legal, marketing, pricing, sales, release cycles, etc.)
2. Use high-fidelity prototype to communicate new ideas
3. Communicate value by showing data from users (prototype testing or research)

What makes a good product team:
  • Good product teams celebrate when they achieve their objectives. Bad teams celebrate when they finally release something. 
  • Good product teams have PM-UX-Engg. side by side, embrace the give and take between the functionality, the experience, and the enabling tech.
  • Good product teams are skilled with many techniques to rapidly try out product ideas to determine which are truly worth building.
  • Good teams get their ideas from OKRs (Objective – Key Results), customer pain points & struggles, and applying new technology.

Myth: Engineers create products for themselves.
Truth: Engineers are great problem solvers and passionate to create great products, but they can't connect to customers. UXers can help them to connect with customers.

To win, you need a team of missionaries not mercenaries.
  1. Know your Mission 
  2. Set your Objectives 
  3. Choose your Actions 
  4. Learn from your Results

Advice for PMs
  1. UXers can make you heroes by filling knowledge gaps. Leverage their UX skills to fill your knowledge gaps.
  2. Stop relying on and using surveys, they rarely paint the true picture. Go find customer’s real pains and struggles by watching them work with your products. Ask for UX help.
  3. Customer meetings are a rare opportunity to learn. Include UXers in customer meetings.

Advice for UXers
  1. Be there early to shape the product roadmap. Work with PMs to help them shape the roadmap.
  2. Listen and talk to PMs to identify knowledge gaps and help PMs fill them.
  3. Let PMs be. Let them do what they want to do.
  4. Just like a crime-board from detective movies, keep your hypothesis and UX experiments VISIBLE to everybody. Do not rush to PPT.

Porto (prototype)-persona is a persona based on guesses and assumptions. Every product company has enough info to create it. Use proto-persona to create new products.