In this ProductTank Louisville talk, Becki Hyde, senior product manager and leadership advisor at VMWare Tanzu Labs, explains some of the problems that many teams working in the tech industry face. She tells some stories about the issues she faced and then provides a framework for working in balanced teams.
The key points of her talk include:
- Problems in a rapidly changing tech world
- Working across the design/engineering divide
- Building a fully functioning mobile app
- Building an app for hardware that doesn’t exist yet
- What true collaboration looks like
Watch the video in full to see Becki’s talk, or read on for an overview of her key points.
We have some problems
Becki explains that nowadays, we are all software practitioners working in rapidly changing roles, no matter the business. Building software usually has three main problems to solve: viability, desirability, and feasibility. However, those aren’t all as modern software development has its own set of problems, including the need to reduce risk, go fast, and develop new skills.
Working across the design/engineering divide
The need for designers and engineers to collaborate is greater than ever. Becki recaps her time as a designer when she paired with an engineer in building out the interface for a new feature. Despite having little coding experience, working closely together on this project improved the communication between her and her teammate. When product teams work closely together, they become more like a team and less like steps in a delivery machine.
Building a fully functioning mobile app
When she and her team needed to quickly validate if the app they were building would solve the problem they wanted it to, they decided to survey their users. But, after they discovered that the framework they’d chosen to build the product with wouldn’t provide the best user experience, Becki had a decision to make as the product manager. However, instead of dictating what they should do herself, the team decided to collaborate and come up with a decision on how to proceed together, proving that collaboration could lead to faster decision making and make members of the team feel like they owned the product.
Building an app for hardware that doesn’t exist yet
Becki highlights a time in her career when she was a designer working closely with a product manager. This involved conducting user research together, testing prototypes, and more. This led to completing an app in just a few weeks. She suggests that the success of this app launch can be attributed to close collaboration, which reduced the risk during product development.
What true collaboration looks like
Becki suggests that to protect against the rate of change in the software industry, it’s essential that product people work together. Rather than simply handing off deliverables to the next person, it’s necessary to communicate. The key takeaways from this talk are that by working together across disciplines, teams can respond to changes faster, grow as professionals, reduce risk across the product life cycle, shorten feedback loops at all levels, and better understand tradeoffs.
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