In her Mind the Product APAC talk, Dian Rosanti, SVP Product at Gojek, describes how she and her team set themselves up for success during the COVID crisis. You can watch Dian’s talk in full or read on for a detailed overview.
Her key points include:
- Reacting to uncertainty
- Staying effective whilst distributed
- Self-care during COVID
Reacting to Uncertainty
Dian says her team’s initial response to the COVID crisis was to take a long hard look at their objectives.
“We began re-evaluating and were pretty systematic about what we wanted to keep,” she says. The team followed a simple framework to review objectives considering what targets no longer made sense but could be updated with a little readjustment, which were unclear and in need of further analysis, and which were simply fundamental and would not change despite the crisis or uncertainty.
“Our product teams are using this framework to evaluate our OKRs and I think it’s a really helpful framework to use when we need to move quickly.”
Gojek’s leadership has taken care to be mindful of what’s going on in the world, not simply what affects the organisation. “At Gojek,” she tells us, “the aim has been to prioritise efforts that ensure the safety and well being of customers, drivers and service providers.” This includes, for example, ways of minimising the spread of infection, ways to cushion the income of affected drivers and service providers, and the audit of notifications that might be inappropriate or even insensitive during the crisis.
“Some of you might actually have an opportunity to grow during this time,” she adds, “but I think it’s a delicate balance between pivoting, taking advantage of opportunities, or pivoting to survive.”
At the same time, Dian’s team has had to think carefully about how to compress prioritisation cycles. Instead of doing what good Product Managers so often do – pushing to find the ‘why’ in everything and saying no to requests not strongly backed by data – these extraordinary times have called for a different approach to prioritisation.
“It’s become important to really balance whether to push these points or to be a lot more directive and to move ahead quickly with limited information,” she says.
Staying Effective Whilst Remote
With offices in Indonesia, India, Singapore, and customers as far away as Costa Rica, remote working is nothing new for Gojek. At the beginning of the crisis, Gojek’s product teams were already distributed and had solid working practices in place. Some parts of what they do, she explains, have simply become “supercharged” – and one of the first areas where they saw this happen was the way in which they manage expectations.
Dian and her team find the DARCI accountability framework particularly helpful in managing expectations, she explains. This tool, designed to establish clear accountability in teams and organisations looks like this:
- D = Decider: The person with the ultimate power to approve, veto, or delegate
- A = Accountable: The single person who is fully accountable to making the project happen (could be the same person as the Decider)
- R = Responsible: Those responsible for doing the work (best to keep this group relatively small for smaller meetings and faster decisions)
- C = Consulted: Those from whom you get input
- I = Informed: The people who are to be kept informed of developments (it’s helpful to be very specific on what kind of feedback or engagement is expected from these last two groups)
Dian provides an example of how this framework was used when Gojek revamped its Product Management (PM) hiring program:
“I was the Decider. I had someone from the PM ops team be Accountable for setting the goals, timelines, deliverables and for making everything happen with our stakeholders. The Responsible group was comprised of folks from many different functions – from programme management, recruiting and HR.
Those who were Consulted were a mix of leadership, the people and culture team, recruiting teams as well as the product management leads. We Informed everyone who was involved from the PM team as well as the functional stakeholders.”
Another tool established prior to lockdown, but which has since taken off at Gojek, she tells us, the user manual – a document in which you outline how you expect to engage with other people, along with various preferences and insights.
For Dian, a user manual has always been useful because of the way her time is split – half in Indonesia and half in California.
“It was really important for me to publish this because half the time I would not be in the office and I would, in fact, be in a different time zone,” she says. “In my user manual, I specify how often I travel, where people can check my travel schedule and where they can check when my online hours.”
Since the lockdown began, more people at Gojek have adopted the idea.
“You can’t just walk over to somebody else’s desk anymore. You need to know the expectations for each person you’re working with when they’re working from home.”
Organisation and Cross-Functional Coordination
With expectations set and user manuals in place, Dian’s team organises the way they work using Asana. “We heavily rely on Asana for product coordination, product prioritisation as well as project management and different functions.”
In fact, almost every Gojek product has now been onboarded to Asana, providing the team with a quick and easy way to see what’s happening.
In her talk, she takes us on a tour of how she and her team use Asana. She explains how, in Asana portfolios, the team tracks their OKRs. “Each KR is represented as a project within Asana which can be combined into a portfolio view where, in this one central place, you can see the progress of each KR in your portfolio.” This, she says, has been hugely helpful in providing a view on changes in real time.
The team also uses Asana for all meetings, including one-on-ones, taking advantage of being able to queue topics, add agenda points and assign things for discussion. “The beauty of all this is that as action items come up, you can assign them, they feed into the assignee’s inbox, giving you both a view, and giving you context on certain action items.”
In addition, she tells us, the team uses the tool for cross-functional coordination. “A superpower of Asana is the ability to add the same tasks to multiple projects,” says Dian.
Some of the team’s tasks live in multiple projects, owned by multiple people and can be added to the shared, providing stakeholders and contributors with context and a clear view when they get together.
Finally, Dian adds one more thing they do at Gojek to protect their time – silent meetings. “This has been an incredible tool for us,” she says.
This process, she explains, requires a lot of prep for the facilitator. The facilitator must create documentation for a group to read, but it forces them to be more thoughtful about the aim of the meeting, she says.
Rather than ask people to read the documentation before the meeting, the silent meeting itself allows time in the beginning for reading. Everybody looks at the same Google Doc together and reads silently. “This portion of the meeting can be 15 or 20 minutes long. Longer if needed,” says Dian. “During that time everybody can read and leave comments on the Google Doc and in doing this you start seeing the comments aggregate around the topics that require a longer discussion.”
While people read and comment, the facilitator keeps track of ideas and themes to be discussed. “What I like about this is that it’s really inclusive,” says Dian. The process enables quieter voices to comment and be heard, those that might not be heard in a normal meeting environment.
“As we moved to more remote working, this has become increasingly important. It’s required a lot of us to prepare in advance for meetings and to be more productive. It’s a format that works really well when you need to set the context for a larger group of people before you have a discussion.”
Self-Care During COVID
Dian closes her talk with a section on self-care and gratitude. “On managing my time and energy I have realised that it is impossible to have a perfect and rigid daily routine right now,” she says.
Instead, she’s following a more predictable sequence. Mondays and Tuesday are heavy work days – the days she has her meetings with the teams in Asia. “Mondays and Tuesdays are long days. They’re days when I know that I need to be very mindful of managing my energy and my time. I make sure I take lots of breaks, make sure I’m eating well and make sure I start the day with a quick workout so that I don’t burn out before the end of the day.”
Wednesday she explains is her favourite day. It’s the day she plans to have a date night with her husband – it’s time she works hard to protect. “I have no meetings on Wednesday evenings,” she says. “All of my colleagues know that when I’m in California, unless it’s a true emergency, they can’t schedule a meeting for Thursday daytime in Asia, because Wednesday is date night!”
On Thursdays, Dian has some meetings but there’s a hard stop at 10pm and on Friday, she feels she can really get her head down to work on the projects that need her undivided attention. “Friday is one of my favourite days for work. It’s my focus day as everybody in Asia has signed off for the weekend.”
To be able to stick to her predictable schedule, Dian works her calendar to the max. “The calendar is really sacred,” she says as she shares a visual of hers – a patchwork of blocked-out time for work, lunch breaks, date nights and even allotted time to showering.
“Now that we’re all distributed we’re encouraging everybody to practice saying, ‘hey, if you need to be at lunch that’s okay’ and ‘if you need to deal with your kids in the afternoon, that’s family time and that’s okay too’”. The team is encouraged to use their calendar in this way so that everyone else knows not to schedule anything in that time.
“These are extraordinary times,’ she says. “You’re balancing everything at home, with your work and your family. It’s very helpful to set really clear expectations with everybody who’s working with you.”