Mind The Product 2019

«Henrik Kniberg — Be mindful of the gap between users and you

I liked this talk so much I have put it in its own post. Henrik has worked for Lego, Spotify and now Mojang Minecraft.


«Andy Ayim discussed questions to ask yourself when making things

First principle thinking — where to start after an idea

Could we solve this problem from starting from scratch/fundamental level? What are the base true facts relating to the users and ideas?

Second order thinking…

…is thinking, what are the results of our solution? If it goes well, what changes?


… is to look at the problem backwards. He suggested pre-mortems — imagine your product is a disaster. Why is it? Hypothesise what happened and defend against it. Reduce risk, test hypothesis earlier, etc.

«C Todd Lombardo on how to be not crap at research

Slides are here: [https://speakerdeck.com/iamctodd/product-research-rules-mtpcon-london-2019]

45% of product features are never used. And there are so many excuses. Research is a solution.

It requires rigour and analysis.

Inspiration for the talk stemmed from this tweet.

The Rules

  1. Prepare to be wrong — check your ego and your assumptions.

There is no problem in being wrong — Bill Nyugen

2. Prepare then Improvise — not discussed

3. Analyse Together — not discussed

4. Get curious with your data — Spend time to find a list of problems. Develop a research question and pursue it.

5. Interviews not interrogations — Do interviews not questions. Shut up and listen.

6. Go beyond interviews — Walk in their shoes.

7. Make your work consumable — Provide research summaries in a consumable manner. Use visuals with products.

8. Inspire actions in insights — not discussed

9. Make it an habit — frequent small discoveries should be the aim

Think about how you question

Mass Challenge is an incubator in Massachusetts

The way you ask questions impact how well you do. Diagnostic type questioning teams lead to greater success. Transactional failed. Confirmational had some success but hugely underperformed.

Also, don’t ask people to predict their for behaviour. They can’t. Test it instead.

«Jonny Schneider — Design is a talent, everything else is a method

“Design is an ability, everything else just helps” is the premise.

  1. Design Thinking is a process of exploring and finding the right problems.
  2. Lean is a scientific method to optimise working so that you build things in a way that excludes waste.
  3. Agile is a method to build things right, allowing responsive change.

All three can be done at once and should be.

How to flex your design muscles:

  1. Continuous Learning is the new competitive advantage — previously it was UX
  2. Design the right experiments
  3. Measure only the things that change decisions
  4. Make people co-create — push for intra-start-ups

«Kate Leto — stop being crap at hiring, be more honest

History of Soft Skills

In 1918, Charles Riborg Mann released a questionnaire of 7,000 respondents within Engineering and Construction focusing on skills needed for a good career. 15% were hard skills, 85% we soft skills (like character).

Since many others including the World Economic Forum have placed similar importance. We generally do not adequately look at soft skills and emotional intelligence in hiring.

Improve your process

Job posts today ask for people who are not real, shield the jobs true purpose and then interview without relevance to the day-to-day work. Hiring is super expensive and time consuming. “On average, a new employee takes 15 months to become fully efficient”.

  1. Build a role that matters — explain the purpose, what the accountable outcomes are, what activities and techniques are involved, and what behaviours and key (not all) emotional intelligence skills are important.
  2. Broaden your interview technique — don’t make your self feel smart, make them behaviour focused (“tell me about when…”). See the book below for more.
  3. Hiring doesn’t stop at the offer — give regular retrospectives, provide good support, induct them properly

Kate suggests everyone should read The EQ Interviewer.

«Lindsey Jayne — write better and clearer

Be clear

If you can’t remember your OKRs or values what is the point. Be simple, clear and memorable.

Write better

Do this in stages: Collect your ideas, remove jargon and acronyms, remove non-essential words.

When possible, try to use the passive voice:

If you can add “…by monkeys” at the end, it is passive. Source: https://monzo.com/tone-of-voice/

Share early and often

Be transparent — it helps trust, generates excitement, invites unexpected help, identifies problems early and helps with quick feedback.

This applies to you work correspondence, your emails, and use it in feedback and your career goals.

My Review

Conferences with work tend to allow you to stop thinking about your day-to-day events and take a step back to think about how you operate. That is exactly what happened here.

The morning allows time to speak to strangers about their issues and problems, see other companies offerings to help — my number one shout out there is ProdPad which helps manage your product lines, products and roadmaps (better than Aha because Aha is gaant chart based; this isn’t) and also gives you a neat way to view your backlog:

Manual Impact and Effort estimates, the size is the content and hence thinking has been done on the idea/epic and the colour relates to how recently it was updated — by your team or by user feedback (that is automatically labelled). https://youtu.be/WB8uJSsI2Uc

The overall experience was good and I hope to get closer to my users now, have taken on-board and will try to write more concisely and will consider hiring with the respect it deserves.




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