Setting up a product function from scratch – Maggie Crowley on The Product Experience "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs May 05 2022 False Building Products, Metrics, Podcasts, The Product Experience, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 7083 Setting up a product function from scratch - Maggie Crowley on The Product Experience Product Management 28.332

Setting up a product function from scratch – Maggie Crowley on The Product Experience

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What would it be like to join a new company and set up a new product from scratch? On this week’s podcast, we spoke to Maggie Crowley all about her experiences of doing this and her best tips. We also had some time to discuss best practices with metrics and hypotheses in product.

Featured Links: Follow Maggie on LinkedIn and Twitter | Work with Maggie at Charlie Health | ‘Build With Maggie Crowley’ podcast

Episode transcript

Randy Silver: 

Hey, Lily, aside from this podcast, have you ever set up a team entirely from scratch?

Lily Smith: 

Yeah, a couple of times, I’ve started in a role and then quickly had to hire a team around me, usually to replace freelancers or an agency that’s helped to get the concept of the ground up. It’s quite an interesting time for a company if you’re able to really set the tone for how you’re going to work.

Randy Silver: 

Yeah, I’m almost never in that situation. You know, even when I have built an entirely new team, it’s been in an established business then they already have lots of practices and cadences established. I’ve always been curious about what it would be like to be the first person in you know, with nothing already in place about how we actually worked.

Lily Smith: 

Well wonder no more. This week we’re talking about starting from scratch with Maggie cruelly, VP of product at Charlie health.

Randy Silver: 

We’re talking about hiring, research metrics, and more. And there’s loads of great takeaways, even if you aren’t starting from scratch by yourself.

Lily Smith: 

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Randy Silver: 

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Lily Smith: 

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Randy Silver: 

Maggie, thank you so much for joining us this week. How’s everything going?

Maggie Crowley: 

Jana, thank you so much for having me. It’s going pretty well, it’s Monday. So everything’s looking good.

Randy Silver: 

It’s always Monday somewhere, unfortunately. So for the few people who haven’t listened to you on podcasts far and wide, and don’t know who you are already, can you just do a quick intro? Tell us what you’re up to these days? And how did you get into products in the first place?

Maggie Crowley: 

Sure, happy to. So these days, I’m VP of product at a healthcare startup called Charlie health before that was at a sales and marketing tech company called drift. And then before that, at TripAdvisor and some other places here and there. My journey into product is similar to I think a good chunk of us now these days, which is I was a consultant, after undergrad didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life went to business school, like many of us who don’t know what they want to do with their lives. And while I was at business school, I sort of discovered tech discovered product management. It seemed like the best marriage of the things I loved about consulting, but also a chance to actually be creative and see those problems through to the end. And so tried to TripAdvisor and have and loved it ever since.

Randy Silver: 

Fantastic. And when you were adrift, you actually ran a fantastic podcast yourself for a while called Build. Curious, what’s the best thing you learned from from doing that?

Maggie Crowley: 

Yeah, it’s interesting, I think about this all the time, especially now that I have some distance from it and really thinking about at least noticing what I don’t have in my day to day that I had when I was doing the show. And I think there’s a couple things I took away from it. One is how important it is to have smart people around you that you can bounce ideas off of and ask questions to having access. And because I recorded every two weeks and meant that roughly every two weeks, I was speaking to someone who was really good at one part of the job if not the whole job. And what I would do is of course record a show. But then you know when you know if we were doing before this having a little chitchat, maybe after we’re finished recording, I would have 510 minutes to say, Okay, here’s really what I need you to tell me like, here’s the real question I want to ask you, that’s about what I’m working on day to day. And having that cadence of smart people was just massive for me. And then as far as what I learned from those people during the show, there’s a couple of themes, one of which is that there’s no right way to do this. There are a million different ways that you can ship products and ship great product. It’s really more of a question of how good are you at matching your toolset to the group of people that you have around you and the problems that that you’re trying to solve? And I think the best people I spoke to over the two or so years that did the show, were the ones who knew that and were flexible and just viewed it all as like there’s so many options and I’m going to draw from my experience to help solve one. And then I think the thing that was also really humanising about it was that everybody from you know, the people who are earliest in their career to the people who are the most experience sort of feel like they don’t know what they’re doing at some level. And I think everyone kind of whether they admitted it During the recording or not, I would say that and I, it was so wonderful to hear, you know, these really accomplished people you’ve hit and on the show, and then they would say, you know, I’m making it all up. I’m like, if you feel that way, then I kind of feel that way. And I guess, you know, the people who you think are who were so confident, aren’t as confident as they seem. And I always found that to be helpful, at least for myself.

Randy Silver: 

I love that whole thing about, you know, we talk about, or we hear people talk about on stage, and then in blog posts and things like that, about the way that they did something. And what I keep telling people that I coach, and I work with this, what they’re telling you something that worked one time in one place, and that’s a great story. Yeah. And just taking that and trying to apply it is. I mean, you’re not the same people, you’re not in the same situation, but knowing what to steal, and from whom that’s the most important stuff.

Maggie Crowley: 

Yeah, I think about that, in context of play spaces like Twitter. So one of the things that I really wanted to do with the show is and with, you know, whatever presence I have on social media, is to share what I’m learning because I felt like when I was getting started in product, there were these people that had all this knowledge, but I couldn’t access it. And I wanted to understand how to do this thing better. But there was so little, so little out there I was I couldn’t find stuff that was tactical, you know, there’s medium articles, to your point that are like the best case, solution. There’s books and whatever. But none of it felt practical to me. And I wanted to try to share practically what am I actually doing that’s actually working or not. And I think especially faces like Twitter, it’s really hard. And when we were DMing. It’s so hard to share all that nuance. And to really understand like yet this is this is one microcosm about what works. And I often can’t share the stuff that you really need to understand about the context, because it’s really proprietary to the business that I’m in. So, yeah, I think that like, again, it comes back to that point about finding people that you can talk to off the record, or at least have interactions with like, that’s the best way and something that I’m still trying to figure out how to do.

Randy Silver: 

The other thing that’s totally awesome is a former guest of ours, Adrian Howard has this thing he always does at conferences, which is called the failure Swap Shop, where you just get a group of people together, and everyone talks about something that they screwed up, and everyone gives them a round of applause. And then the next person goes, and everyone has to have a go. And you’ve learned so much from them.

Maggie Crowley: 

Yeah, I actually added that to my product management interview loop. I asked PMS, what’s the worst thing that they’ve ever shipped personally? And it’s such a great interview question. And I learned so much. And it’s so fun to talk about, because we, to your point, we’ve all done it. And I think if you haven’t done it, you probably haven’t been building products for that long, or you haven’t really pushed yourself that hard.

Lily Smith: 

That’s amazing. I can like immediately, as you said that I knew exactly which products I would talk about, like demos or whatever today.

Maggie Crowley: 

Yeah, almost everyone goes, Oh, man, and I start laughing. And then they’re like, Wow, there’s this one time, and then you launch into a story.

Lily Smith: 

Brilliant. And so today, we have the pleasure of asking you all about something that you’ve done recently, which is moving to a brand new company and setting up a kind of brand new product function. So tell us a bit about that. What’s it been like? What kind of stage is the business at? And when you say kind of setting up a brand new product function? Is that like a whole team? Or what what are we talking about?

Maggie Crowley: 

Yeah, so the sort of that I’m at right now, the founders made, in my opinion, are really interesting and smart decision, which was to prove out our business and our care model before investing in building anything custom. So that means that we are a couple of years into operating. And now we’re bringing on a product engineering and design team. So when I say starting from the ground up, I mean, I was literally the first member of that whole org. And we are tasked with sort of figuring out, of course, what the business needs now and what the business needs next, which is sort of typical for a product team. But it also means that we get to decide, you know, what, what, who do we want to hire? How do we want to organise? What are the rituals that we want to have? How do we want to operate, we just get to decide all of that sort of intentionally all at once. And so that’s been a really interesting process to go through and is has allowed us to spend a bunch of time asking questions like, what worked in our prior roles, what didn’t work, you know, what’s different about the situation? What’s the same about the situation? What do you want to keep what we want to change and all that kind of stuff?

Lily Smith: 

I think that’s really interesting concept of like, being able to start a product function with a lot of intention and, and a lot of thoughts going into it rather than quite often what happens is that chaotic sort of effective startups where everything just kind of scrambles together and founders are often involved To in providing that sort of product guidance, and then somehow they hire a product manager, and then they try to take over and, you know, all that kind of stuff. So how have you sort of set your criteria for setting this up? How have you kind of decided how to approach it?

Maggie Crowley: 

So the place that I start, no matter what, no matter what situation, what team, the stage of the company is always starting with? What is the goal for the business? What’s our mission? Just broadly, then, you know, what is our competitive advantage? What makes us different? Like, what is special to this, this company that’s going to allow us to win? And then looking at, you know, what are the near term goals that we were trying to get to as a company? And why and what information we have to back that up? So start there? Second question I asked was, given that, where are we today? And so we spent when I joined a bunch time going through different user flows and understanding like exactly what’s happening on the ground, like, where are we very clearly today? With no, without any sort of rosy rose coloured glasses, right, just like ground truth of what’s happening. And then always thinking with those two things in mind, what’s the gap and what’s the first most impactful thing we needed to, we need to solve for to get from here to there. And I think it’s an exercise that that product people should always be doing, no matter what the company or the team looks like. Because if you do that, then it’s really clear what you need, right? So what I didn’t want to do is just come in and say, Alright, we need, you know, these PMS, and these engineers and these designers, or we’re going to do this thing, because that might not have been to our earlier conversation that might not have been the right thing for the business. And so instead, I spent a bunch of time really trying to understand the space that we’re in and the problems that we want to just solve, and then sat down by that time, our VP of engineering had joined. And so he and I sat down and said, Okay, given where we’re trying to go, given the situation that we’re in, given sort of the kind of product that we want to build, this is where we think we want to start in this issue we need to hire and this is generally how we’re gonna set ourselves up.

Randy Silver: 

So what to what tools or techniques did you use to start Adelina we use that a lot of mapping? Was it something from your consulting background? Where did you start to figure all that out?

Maggie Crowley: 

Yeah. i It’s kind of tools and frameworks that I’ve gathered along the way from lots of different places. I don’t typically use something like brand named or anything like that. It’s more it’s sort of literally what I said, I just started a Google Doc. And I said, Great, what’s the mission? And I typed it up, made sure I got it right. Then I said, Awesome. What are our numbers? Where are we headed? What’s the big top line goal for the business, wrote that down? And then I just started thinking about just walking myself through all the different questions I want to ask about the market and the team and our competitive advantage, and all that kind of stuff. And I literally just write it on a giant Google Doc. And then I, you know, I use euro to do this for a user mapping. And that was really, you know, there’s nothing fancy about it. It’s just every step along the way with all the questions and screenshots and any context I could put together. And then I just go back to the Google Doc and start refining my logic and trying to create a narrative about it and like, kind of make sense of it. So I can share it with the team. So So yeah, it’s it’s nothing fancy. It’s probably a combination of, you know, some strategy frameworks I learned at business school stuff I had from consulting questions I’ve picked up along the way, all that kind of stuff.

Lily Smith: 

Was the outcome of that anything different to what you would typically expect a product function to look like with? You know, design, product management, tech, QA?

Maggie Crowley: 

No, no, it was pretty much the same. But I think it’s important to me that the question wasn’t really, what, who should we hire? I mean, I think at some point, you kind of no matter what we were going to start with a generalist group of people who could kind of do anything. Just to be quick about it. I think, really, what that exercise brought us was clarity and focus and the ability to make trade offs. Because rather than starting at the same time as the business because we’re kind of coming in later, as a team, we have to move really quickly. Because we’re, we’re growing really fast, we’re scaling and we need to make some changes. And so for us, it was really important to build alignment with external stakeholders fast, and also to give ourselves a way to talk about the work that we were doing and the order in which we were going to do that work in a way that really people could understand. And I think also talking about stuff that, you know, hasn’t worked in, in past organisations or that didn’t go as well. I think it’s really easy to not be clear about why you’re doing what you’re doing. And the clearer you can be, the faster your team will move and the better they will do. And so to me as a product leader, it is mission critical that what I think we should do Wouldn’t Why is so obvious and very clear. And all my logic is out on the on paper, it’s transparent. You can see whatever data I have. And then I also can say this is where I’m making a bet, based on what I think like, this is the bet that I want to make. And this is why and this is where the data stops. Because I think that happens on every product team. At some point, you’re making a bet. And I like to be really clear about when that isn’t why.

Randy Silver: 

So as you’ve grown from just you trying to explain, you’ve brought in, I think, one more product manager, you’ve got the team and other people trying to explain things as well. Do they have their own ways of doing it, too, you have to align on how you express things? Or is the the model the mental model of how you dumped it and explained in the first place? Does that still hold true?

Maggie Crowley: 

I think it’s still holding pretty true. I mean, we’re not a giant team. So we we don’t need to have too many different ways to talk about it. What we’ve been doing instead is trying to figure out what are the right ways to speak to different stakeholder groups, I think this is a common challenge for all of us. And so we sort of started with, okay, these are the priorities that we have. We we used and now next leader format to, for a robot to kind of get a sense of the order of operations. And then as we’ve done more discovery, work on the actual things that we’re going to build to solve for the problems that we identified. Now we’re getting into more of a delivery phase. And we have a more specific like delivery map and plan. Because anything that we launch in healthcare is like there are many, many stakeholder groups that have to be aligned with us. And so we have to do a lot of planning. So we’re kind of iterating, on on how we want to share what we’re doing with different teams and how we plan together. But what I tried to do, and I learned this from a guy I worked with at my last job, Greg, he was always really clear about the power of naming things and never naming things like v1 or v2 or whatever. And so I spent a lot of time thinking about the sort of short names for the work that we’re going to do and really making sure we have those clear so that when we talk about what we’re doing, we can you use language that everyone’s going to understand. And we do have a bunch of those.

Randy Silver: 

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Lily Smith: 

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Randy Silver: 

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Lily Smith: 

Get tickets now at mine the product.com. I’m curious, one of the things that I found when you’re hiring people is that you kind of have to consider how they all fit together as well, as you know that you kind of mentioned earlier about hiring sort of generalists, and each of the different areas that you do tend to end up with my experience with you know, product, people who might be more sort of UX focused, or designers who are slightly more technical, or I don’t know, even engineers who are a bit more data lead or kind of, you know, stronger could be potentially stronger on data. So when you’re hiring that quickly, was that a consideration at all? Or were you just kind of like, we have to just get good generalist people in and then see how they fit together and then sort of see where or if we still have gaps anywhere.

Maggie Crowley: 

Yeah, because we again, because the business has been around for a while, it’s pretty clear this set of opportunities that we want to solve for in the next six to 12 months. And so for us, it was a little bit easier to see the types of people that we would need and the kinds of skills that we would want to have. And so to me, we had a little flexibility in that I wanted to build a team that has where everyone brings a different sort of specialty to the to the group, because then I think you have one of the situations where of course everyone’s good at their functional role. But then everyone kind of spikes in a different area and can add something to the team and make sure that we’re sort of complete as a squad. So that’s one thing I looked for. But then also, I knew that there were some problems that are more analytical, some that are more maybe UX focused, and so had been recruiting with an eye towards that and to sort of think about, oh, this, this type of person would be a good fit for this type of problem that I know we want to solve versus this type of person would be better fit for this type of problem. And so that’s in the back of my mind as I’m hiring. But I think also one of the things that happens is you meet different people. And they can be good for different reasons. And then they have to interact with each other to kind of what you’re talking about. And so I think a lot about, as I bring people on the team sort of scenario planning how they’re all going to interact with each other and making sure that they, they’re all going to get along and add to one another. And then I think that we’ve been really intentional about or two things, one, talking very specifically about how we take our work seriously. And that causes some people to want to opt in. And some people want to want to opt out. And then we also talk about how we’re hiring people who are really kind. And we really want to create a team that’s collaborative. And that’s been another thing that’s really helped

Randy Silver: 

us. So Maggie, I’m curious, with all that, one of the key things is that we talked about it earlier was about frameworks and tools and things like that. About, you know, everyone’s diary is always a mess. It’s something that every product person I’ve ever met has complained about. So when you’re starting this from scratch, you’ve got a relatively small team, you’re setting up which meetings which ceremonies which things you want to have, what’s working for you so far, What things have you kept, what things if you said, Actually, we don’t need this right now?

Maggie Crowley: 

Yeah, we decided from basically day zero, that we would set. So we’re distributed across US time zones. And so we decided that 9am to 1pm Pacific would be meeting time, when we would schedule any recurring meetings or team meetings to be in that block. And then outside of that block, we protect time for focus work. Because again, name of the game for us is scaling and speed. And so we wanted to make sure everyone had time for deep work. So that’s one thing that we did. Second thing that we did is we are just using like a rough, Agile Model right now just as a place to start. And then knowing that sort of week to week, month to month, we’re going to be iterating on our processes. But we wanted to give ourselves something to start with that was familiar to everybody. And so what we do is we have a 15 minute stand up Monday through Thursday, that’s at the beginning of the day ish West Coast time and mid morning, early, mid day, East Coast time. And that is, honestly, it’s five to 10 minutes, we made this really aggressive roll where there’s absolutely no chit chatting. There’s no fun happening in that meeting, which makes it kind of funny because we’re trying really hard. But that’s intended to truly like, what are we doing? Do we need to get it? Do we need any collaboration today? Are there any open questions, and then we keep it really short. And then of course, we have a retro every other week, and we do sort of sprint planning. And that’s allowed us to talk in erector. We spent a lot of time talking about this question about meetings, what’s working, what’s not working? Do we want to add anything, take anything away. And then we have a 30 minute kind of just look at each other on the Zoom demo Friday. That’s just kind of like a nice close of the week. And that’s really all we’ve been doing. And it’s been working really well. We have other rituals that we do, but those are more project related and are not recurring. And we’re we try to keep those pretty light as well.

Randy Silver: 

So what have you intentionally not introduced? Or said, we’re definitely not doing those? Or if anything?

Maggie Crowley: 

I’m not even sure I don’t know what other? It’s interesting, because when you when you start from scratch, it’s like, well, what were all those meetings I was in there, I don’t even remember what they were. So if I was fighting back against stand up, I didn’t think we needed to do that. And I was wrong. for lots of reasons, one of which was because we’re new and we don’t know each other that well. And so that’s been a nice touch, touch point for us to just build more rapport as a team. Yeah, I can’t even think of what the other meetings where I’m in a tonne of meetings, but I’m in a lot of sort of leadership, cross functional meetings, and I’m doing a lot of recruiting. But I wouldn’t count those as as like the product team, if that makes sense.

Lily Smith: 

So what about metrics? And how have you started to decide like what to track? And I guess if the business has been very focused on operations, they probably have that kind of operational metrics. But have you had to kind of introduce more sort of product metrics or success criteria for your team?

Maggie Crowley: 

Some, I think on this question, really, my focus is, is really there’s three questions any product team has to answer. You know, one is, are your users using it? Two is Is it working? And the third one is, is it up? So are your performance, you know, are you hitting those sort of quality metrics that you need to have as a team? And to me the the metrics that fit into those buckets depend on the business that you’re in the type of product that you have, and I often find that thinking about it as a product metrics versus business metrics is misleading because it should be the same at some level and its own be different on a feature on like a per feature level or if you’re doing an experiment. So for me right now and be given the stage that we’re in, there’s really isn’t a distinction between the business metric and the product metric. And so that that’s those are the buckets that I think about. What I do think about a lot is that making sure that we sort of future proof what we want to do. So a lot of our current business relies on data. And so for me, I want to make sure that we’re tracking everything, even if we’re not using it, the thing I don’t want to do is, you know, in six months, have a question not be able to answer it. And so I spent a lot of time, you know, with our VP of engineering, thinking about making sure that we’re tracking everything so that we can go back and ask questions if we want to later. But we don’t need to deal with that right now. The again, the priorities are pretty clear. And then the other thing I always think about is, I think it’s really easy for a product team to go hunting around in data and to just start finding things without a hypothesis. And so to me, I really care about what are the questions we’re asking, what are the hypotheses that we have as a business and why? And that would be how I would think about metrics and not just like, well, we’re a product team, we need to have metrics, let’s start tracking stuff. Like, who cares? What does that add? Does that matter at all? Is that time where we’re spending right now, it might not be because the problems that might be really obvious. And so again, I always ask, like, what is the hypothesis? Why are we thinking about this? What is the question that we have, and I let that drive the metrics that we want to track?

Lily Smith: 

And so that’s, I find that really interesting around, like, if something’s really obvious, and I grapple with this kind of question myself, quite often of, you know, do we need to measure this? Or is it just so obvious that we need to do this thing or, or to, you know, change this thing in some way? Like, how do you decide in your work, whether something is obvious enough that you don’t need to measure it, or you don’t need to kind of analyse it from a kind of data perspective or a metrics perspective, and you just go, Okay, now, I just need to do this.

Maggie Crowley: 

Yeah, I would ask, how will you know if it worked? And sometimes, the work it would take to know if it works, aesthetically, is so much and you twist yourself into such knots, that it’s common sense. And I think this is a topic that I wrestled with on the podcast a while ago with a couple of guests, which is, to your point, how do you articulate common sense? And how do you build up enough conviction that you know that it’s common sense? And I think an example that that came up the other day was with user testing. And so you know, cannon with state, we got to use your test everything. But do you really need to use your test at table? Probably not. Should your table be sortable by the column headers? Probably should should you start it with roughly like alphabetical based on the leftmost column, probably. That’s a fair assessment. And I think it’s stuff like that where like, you probably don’t have to use your test that but we don’t have to analyse whether the table is working, because it’s a table. Right. And I think it’s things like that, that people forget that you don’t always have to do, you can move more quickly. Especially if it’s a pattern that already works. Your users already understand that you don’t need to recreate the wheel for whatever reason.

Lily Smith: 

Makes sense?

Randy Silver: 

Okay, I’m going to ask the question if going in totally the other direction, which is one of the things that I see people flounder with and ask questions, but again, again, is I hate the tool that we’re using to track our metrics. So how did you decide what to use?

Maggie Crowley: 

Is this such a red herring problem? People like obsess about their tools? And who cares? It’s it has nothing to do with the tools, right? Like, you don’t need it, you could have just some sort of raw SQL layer, and you can answer your questions for yourself, if you really needed to, you could use Excel CSVs, whatever. I just think that people are when it’s not really pupil, it’s when you are over focused on the tool, there’s something deeper happening that is preventing you from doing your work. And I often find that there is a lack of confidence in the question or in the person’s ability to answer the question. And it causes them to fix it on the tool, when really, it’s not about the tool, right? It’s about like, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to solve this, or it’s, I’m having trouble solving it. And so I’m going to blame the tool and not really like be honest about the thing that’s happening. So for me, we haven’t even really picked most of our tools yet. I’m basically using Google Drive or G G Suite, JIRA notion. And that’s about it right now. We’ll add and we’re adding tools as we go a figma. But yeah, I mean, I don’t know I’m always reluctant to add tools because I, they almost never solve problems.

Lily Smith: 

Yeah, I hear you on that one. Also, having made some mistakes with tools where I go where I kind of think I think we really need this, and then we sign up to it. And I’m like, God, we really didn’t need that.

Maggie Crowley: 

Yeah, I mean, one of the tools, I think, a common one, there’s obviously, sort of data analytics tools. And there’s lots of reasons why you would would or wouldn’t pick those, I don’t personally have a strong opinion about them, I can use, they all kind of will answer your question and be frustrating in different ways. It’s usually not a big deal. I think the problem is like, when you take too long to pick on the product management tooling side, there’s always this promise of, you know, this tool is going to make it easy to communicate your roadmap to like these 25 different stakeholder groups. Maybe that’s true, I haven’t really spent a lot of time trying them out. So I can’t really speak to that. One thing I will say is that by using Google Drive, or slides or whatever, you have to kind of like rewrite it every time to the different stakeholder group. And I find the practice of having to do that and to think through the thing you’re gonna say to be really valuable, and it makes the story better every time I tell it. And so sometimes I like tools that have friction in them, because it forces you to think about what you’re saying. And it forces you to reevaluate your language and think about what that stakeholder group needs. And so to me, sometimes a friction isn’t totally a bad thing.

Lily Smith: 

And we’re kind of coming to time. But before we finish up, it would be great to find out a bit more about what you do on the research side of things. So you know, quite often when I start somewhere new, like one of the first things I want to do is go and like interview a bunch of customers or the kind of user groups. So how have you approached that within the team when you’ve got, you know, a whole bunch of people starting? And presumably no user research function? That’s a question mark.

Maggie Crowley: 

Yeah, we don’t have a user research function yet. I am a big believer in constant discovery. And so the first thing I did was shadow as many parts of our business as I could, obviously, in healthcare, there’s some restrictions to what you can and can’t attend. But I spent a bunch of time with our clinical team, with our internal team that runs a lot of the programme, the team that’s running some of the sort of ops behind the scenes. And I would say, if I were to join a non healthcare company, it’s like, I’m, yeah, I’m going to interview 1020 30 users, I’m going to interview prospects, I’m going to interview people who turned I’m going to interview all the stakeholders in the team put together those journey maps on like what people are doing. I think it’s important as a product leader to go through that to really understand the thing that you’re working on. I think it’s important, every pm that joins every designer that joins has to redo that exercise for themselves as well. And kind of can we have this journey map that is consistently being edited and created by the team, as we add people, as one of our onboarding activities is really important to have people do that. And then it’s really important to me to have continuous moments where we are, you know, building in ways to talk to our users across the different personas that were never wanted, I guess maybe what I’m what I’m saying is what I don’t want is to have user research to be this like distinct thing that we go and do at one point, which is true, maybe we were going to do that when we have a design that needs to be user tested, or we have a specific research question. But I also want there to be sort of continuous contact with those teams and the conversation of what they need. Because they think that just helps you have their point of view and their needs in your mind as you’re building as you’re making decisions on the margin as the team sort of moving forward. So that’s sort of how I think about it. I also when I joined, or when I started at this company thought, you know, we don’t we don’t need a research team, we’ll just we’ll just have PMS and designers do it themselves. I’ve completely reversed my my point of view on that. And I think bringing in a user research team earlier is going to be a big unlock for us. And so I’m starting to think about that now.

Randy Silver: 

Maggie, that was fantastic. I would love to keep talking to you about this all day. But I think you have a day job to get back to. So thank you very much. It’s been a lot of fun.

Maggie Crowley: 

Yeah, of course. Thanks for having me. It’s always fun to talk about this stuff.

Lily Smith: 

The product experience is the first and the best podcast from mine the product. Our hosts are me, Lily Smith, and me Randy silver. Louron Pratt is our producer and Luke Smith is our editor.

Randy Silver: 

Our theme music is from humbard baseband power. That’s P au Thanks to RNA killer who curates both product tank and empty He’s engaged in Hamburg, and who also plays bass in the band for letting us use their music. You can connect with your local product community via product tank, regular free meetups and over 200 cities worldwide.

Lily Smith: 

If there’s not one near you, maybe you should think about starting one. To find out more go to mind the product.com forward slash product thank.

What would it be like to join a new company and set up a new product from scratch? On this week's podcast, we spoke to Maggie Crowley all about her experiences of doing this and her best tips. We also had some time to discuss best practices with metrics and hypotheses in product. Featured Links: Follow Maggie on LinkedIn and Twitter | Work with Maggie at Charlie Health | 'Build With Maggie Crowley' podcast

Episode transcript

Randy Silver:  Hey, Lily, aside from this podcast, have you ever set up a team entirely from scratch? Lily Smith:  Yeah, a couple of times, I've started in a role and then quickly had to hire a team around me, usually to replace freelancers or an agency that's helped to get the concept of the ground up. It's quite an interesting time for a company if you're able to really set the tone for how you're going to work. Randy Silver:  Yeah, I'm almost never in that situation. You know, even when I have built an entirely new team, it's been in an established business then they already have lots of practices and cadences established. I've always been curious about what it would be like to be the first person in you know, with nothing already in place about how we actually worked. Lily Smith:  Well wonder no more. This week we're talking about starting from scratch with Maggie cruelly, VP of product at Charlie health. Randy Silver:  We're talking about hiring, research metrics, and more. And there's loads of great takeaways, even if you aren't starting from scratch by yourself. Lily Smith:  The product experience is brought to you by mind the product. Randy Silver:  Every week, we talk to the best product people from around the globe about how we can improve our practice, and build products that people love. Lily Smith:  Because it mind the product.com to catch up on past episodes, and to discover an extensive library of great content and videos, Randy Silver:  browse for free, or become a minor product member to unlock premium articles, unseen videos, AMA's roundtables, discount store conferences around the world training opportunities for Lily Smith:  mine, the product also offers free product tank meetups in more than 200 cities. And there's probably one near you. Randy Silver:  Maggie, thank you so much for joining us this week. How's everything going? Maggie Crowley:  Jana, thank you so much for having me. It's going pretty well, it's Monday. So everything's looking good. Randy Silver:  It's always Monday somewhere, unfortunately. So for the few people who haven't listened to you on podcasts far and wide, and don't know who you are already, can you just do a quick intro? Tell us what you're up to these days? And how did you get into products in the first place? Maggie Crowley:  Sure, happy to. So these days, I'm VP of product at a healthcare startup called Charlie health before that was at a sales and marketing tech company called drift. And then before that, at TripAdvisor and some other places here and there. My journey into product is similar to I think a good chunk of us now these days, which is I was a consultant, after undergrad didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life went to business school, like many of us who don't know what they want to do with their lives. And while I was at business school, I sort of discovered tech discovered product management. It seemed like the best marriage of the things I loved about consulting, but also a chance to actually be creative and see those problems through to the end. And so tried to TripAdvisor and have and loved it ever since. Randy Silver:  Fantastic. And when you were adrift, you actually ran a fantastic podcast yourself for a while called Build. Curious, what's the best thing you learned from from doing that? Maggie Crowley:  Yeah, it's interesting, I think about this all the time, especially now that I have some distance from it and really thinking about at least noticing what I don't have in my day to day that I had when I was doing the show. And I think there's a couple things I took away from it. One is how important it is to have smart people around you that you can bounce ideas off of and ask questions to having access. And because I recorded every two weeks and meant that roughly every two weeks, I was speaking to someone who was really good at one part of the job if not the whole job. And what I would do is of course record a show. But then you know when you know if we were doing before this having a little chitchat, maybe after we're finished recording, I would have 510 minutes to say, Okay, here's really what I need you to tell me like, here's the real question I want to ask you, that's about what I'm working on day to day. And having that cadence of smart people was just massive for me. And then as far as what I learned from those people during the show, there's a couple of themes, one of which is that there's no right way to do this. There are a million different ways that you can ship products and ship great product. It's really more of a question of how good are you at matching your toolset to the group of people that you have around you and the problems that that you're trying to solve? And I think the best people I spoke to over the two or so years that did the show, were the ones who knew that and were flexible and just viewed it all as like there's so many options and I'm going to draw from my experience to help solve one. And then I think the thing that was also really humanising about it was that everybody from you know, the people who are earliest in their career to the people who are the most experience sort of feel like they don't know what they're doing at some level. And I think everyone kind of whether they admitted it During the recording or not, I would say that and I, it was so wonderful to hear, you know, these really accomplished people you've hit and on the show, and then they would say, you know, I'm making it all up. I'm like, if you feel that way, then I kind of feel that way. And I guess, you know, the people who you think are who were so confident, aren't as confident as they seem. And I always found that to be helpful, at least for myself. Randy Silver:  I love that whole thing about, you know, we talk about, or we hear people talk about on stage, and then in blog posts and things like that, about the way that they did something. And what I keep telling people that I coach, and I work with this, what they're telling you something that worked one time in one place, and that's a great story. Yeah. And just taking that and trying to apply it is. I mean, you're not the same people, you're not in the same situation, but knowing what to steal, and from whom that's the most important stuff. Maggie Crowley:  Yeah, I think about that, in context of play spaces like Twitter. So one of the things that I really wanted to do with the show is and with, you know, whatever presence I have on social media, is to share what I'm learning because I felt like when I was getting started in product, there were these people that had all this knowledge, but I couldn't access it. And I wanted to understand how to do this thing better. But there was so little, so little out there I was I couldn't find stuff that was tactical, you know, there's medium articles, to your point that are like the best case, solution. There's books and whatever. But none of it felt practical to me. And I wanted to try to share practically what am I actually doing that's actually working or not. And I think especially faces like Twitter, it's really hard. And when we were DMing. It's so hard to share all that nuance. And to really understand like yet this is this is one microcosm about what works. And I often can't share the stuff that you really need to understand about the context, because it's really proprietary to the business that I'm in. So, yeah, I think that like, again, it comes back to that point about finding people that you can talk to off the record, or at least have interactions with like, that's the best way and something that I'm still trying to figure out how to do. Randy Silver:  The other thing that's totally awesome is a former guest of ours, Adrian Howard has this thing he always does at conferences, which is called the failure Swap Shop, where you just get a group of people together, and everyone talks about something that they screwed up, and everyone gives them a round of applause. And then the next person goes, and everyone has to have a go. And you've learned so much from them. Maggie Crowley:  Yeah, I actually added that to my product management interview loop. I asked PMS, what's the worst thing that they've ever shipped personally? And it's such a great interview question. And I learned so much. And it's so fun to talk about, because we, to your point, we've all done it. And I think if you haven't done it, you probably haven't been building products for that long, or you haven't really pushed yourself that hard. Lily Smith:  That's amazing. I can like immediately, as you said that I knew exactly which products I would talk about, like demos or whatever today. Maggie Crowley:  Yeah, almost everyone goes, Oh, man, and I start laughing. And then they're like, Wow, there's this one time, and then you launch into a story. Lily Smith:  Brilliant. And so today, we have the pleasure of asking you all about something that you've done recently, which is moving to a brand new company and setting up a kind of brand new product function. So tell us a bit about that. What's it been like? What kind of stage is the business at? And when you say kind of setting up a brand new product function? Is that like a whole team? Or what what are we talking about? Maggie Crowley:  Yeah, so the sort of that I'm at right now, the founders made, in my opinion, are really interesting and smart decision, which was to prove out our business and our care model before investing in building anything custom. So that means that we are a couple of years into operating. And now we're bringing on a product engineering and design team. So when I say starting from the ground up, I mean, I was literally the first member of that whole org. And we are tasked with sort of figuring out, of course, what the business needs now and what the business needs next, which is sort of typical for a product team. But it also means that we get to decide, you know, what, what, who do we want to hire? How do we want to organise? What are the rituals that we want to have? How do we want to operate, we just get to decide all of that sort of intentionally all at once. And so that's been a really interesting process to go through and is has allowed us to spend a bunch of time asking questions like, what worked in our prior roles, what didn't work, you know, what's different about the situation? What's the same about the situation? What do you want to keep what we want to change and all that kind of stuff? Lily Smith:  I think that's really interesting concept of like, being able to start a product function with a lot of intention and, and a lot of thoughts going into it rather than quite often what happens is that chaotic sort of effective startups where everything just kind of scrambles together and founders are often involved To in providing that sort of product guidance, and then somehow they hire a product manager, and then they try to take over and, you know, all that kind of stuff. So how have you sort of set your criteria for setting this up? How have you kind of decided how to approach it? Maggie Crowley:  So the place that I start, no matter what, no matter what situation, what team, the stage of the company is always starting with? What is the goal for the business? What's our mission? Just broadly, then, you know, what is our competitive advantage? What makes us different? Like, what is special to this, this company that's going to allow us to win? And then looking at, you know, what are the near term goals that we were trying to get to as a company? And why and what information we have to back that up? So start there? Second question I asked was, given that, where are we today? And so we spent when I joined a bunch time going through different user flows and understanding like exactly what's happening on the ground, like, where are we very clearly today? With no, without any sort of rosy rose coloured glasses, right, just like ground truth of what's happening. And then always thinking with those two things in mind, what's the gap and what's the first most impactful thing we needed to, we need to solve for to get from here to there. And I think it's an exercise that that product people should always be doing, no matter what the company or the team looks like. Because if you do that, then it's really clear what you need, right? So what I didn't want to do is just come in and say, Alright, we need, you know, these PMS, and these engineers and these designers, or we're going to do this thing, because that might not have been to our earlier conversation that might not have been the right thing for the business. And so instead, I spent a bunch of time really trying to understand the space that we're in and the problems that we want to just solve, and then sat down by that time, our VP of engineering had joined. And so he and I sat down and said, Okay, given where we're trying to go, given the situation that we're in, given sort of the kind of product that we want to build, this is where we think we want to start in this issue we need to hire and this is generally how we're gonna set ourselves up. Randy Silver:  So what to what tools or techniques did you use to start Adelina we use that a lot of mapping? Was it something from your consulting background? Where did you start to figure all that out? Maggie Crowley:  Yeah. i It's kind of tools and frameworks that I've gathered along the way from lots of different places. I don't typically use something like brand named or anything like that. It's more it's sort of literally what I said, I just started a Google Doc. And I said, Great, what's the mission? And I typed it up, made sure I got it right. Then I said, Awesome. What are our numbers? Where are we headed? What's the big top line goal for the business, wrote that down? And then I just started thinking about just walking myself through all the different questions I want to ask about the market and the team and our competitive advantage, and all that kind of stuff. And I literally just write it on a giant Google Doc. And then I, you know, I use euro to do this for a user mapping. And that was really, you know, there's nothing fancy about it. It's just every step along the way with all the questions and screenshots and any context I could put together. And then I just go back to the Google Doc and start refining my logic and trying to create a narrative about it and like, kind of make sense of it. So I can share it with the team. So So yeah, it's it's nothing fancy. It's probably a combination of, you know, some strategy frameworks I learned at business school stuff I had from consulting questions I've picked up along the way, all that kind of stuff. Lily Smith:  Was the outcome of that anything different to what you would typically expect a product function to look like with? You know, design, product management, tech, QA? Maggie Crowley:  No, no, it was pretty much the same. But I think it's important to me that the question wasn't really, what, who should we hire? I mean, I think at some point, you kind of no matter what we were going to start with a generalist group of people who could kind of do anything. Just to be quick about it. I think, really, what that exercise brought us was clarity and focus and the ability to make trade offs. Because rather than starting at the same time as the business because we're kind of coming in later, as a team, we have to move really quickly. Because we're, we're growing really fast, we're scaling and we need to make some changes. And so for us, it was really important to build alignment with external stakeholders fast, and also to give ourselves a way to talk about the work that we were doing and the order in which we were going to do that work in a way that really people could understand. And I think also talking about stuff that, you know, hasn't worked in, in past organisations or that didn't go as well. I think it's really easy to not be clear about why you're doing what you're doing. And the clearer you can be, the faster your team will move and the better they will do. And so to me as a product leader, it is mission critical that what I think we should do Wouldn't Why is so obvious and very clear. And all my logic is out on the on paper, it's transparent. You can see whatever data I have. And then I also can say this is where I'm making a bet, based on what I think like, this is the bet that I want to make. And this is why and this is where the data stops. Because I think that happens on every product team. At some point, you're making a bet. And I like to be really clear about when that isn't why. Randy Silver:  So as you've grown from just you trying to explain, you've brought in, I think, one more product manager, you've got the team and other people trying to explain things as well. Do they have their own ways of doing it, too, you have to align on how you express things? Or is the the model the mental model of how you dumped it and explained in the first place? Does that still hold true? Maggie Crowley:  I think it's still holding pretty true. I mean, we're not a giant team. So we we don't need to have too many different ways to talk about it. What we've been doing instead is trying to figure out what are the right ways to speak to different stakeholder groups, I think this is a common challenge for all of us. And so we sort of started with, okay, these are the priorities that we have. We we used and now next leader format to, for a robot to kind of get a sense of the order of operations. And then as we've done more discovery, work on the actual things that we're going to build to solve for the problems that we identified. Now we're getting into more of a delivery phase. And we have a more specific like delivery map and plan. Because anything that we launch in healthcare is like there are many, many stakeholder groups that have to be aligned with us. And so we have to do a lot of planning. So we're kind of iterating, on on how we want to share what we're doing with different teams and how we plan together. But what I tried to do, and I learned this from a guy I worked with at my last job, Greg, he was always really clear about the power of naming things and never naming things like v1 or v2 or whatever. And so I spent a lot of time thinking about the sort of short names for the work that we're going to do and really making sure we have those clear so that when we talk about what we're doing, we can you use language that everyone's going to understand. And we do have a bunch of those. Randy Silver:  If 2022 is the year you're looking to advance your career, expand your network, get inspired, and bring the best products to market. Then join minder products for their next conference this May Lily Smith:  at MTP con, San Francisco plus Americas, you'll soak up invaluable insights from an epic lineup of the best in product, covering a range of topics that will challenge and inspire you to step up as a product manager, you've Randy Silver:  got the option to go fully digital for both days, or get the best of both worlds with a hybrid ticket. Digital on day one and in person at the SF jazz in San Francisco on day two, I was at the most recent edition of this event in London last year, and it was just awesome. Lily Smith:  Get tickets now at mine the product.com. I'm curious, one of the things that I found when you're hiring people is that you kind of have to consider how they all fit together as well, as you know that you kind of mentioned earlier about hiring sort of generalists, and each of the different areas that you do tend to end up with my experience with you know, product, people who might be more sort of UX focused, or designers who are slightly more technical, or I don't know, even engineers who are a bit more data lead or kind of, you know, stronger could be potentially stronger on data. So when you're hiring that quickly, was that a consideration at all? Or were you just kind of like, we have to just get good generalist people in and then see how they fit together and then sort of see where or if we still have gaps anywhere. Maggie Crowley:  Yeah, because we again, because the business has been around for a while, it's pretty clear this set of opportunities that we want to solve for in the next six to 12 months. And so for us, it was a little bit easier to see the types of people that we would need and the kinds of skills that we would want to have. And so to me, we had a little flexibility in that I wanted to build a team that has where everyone brings a different sort of specialty to the to the group, because then I think you have one of the situations where of course everyone's good at their functional role. But then everyone kind of spikes in a different area and can add something to the team and make sure that we're sort of complete as a squad. So that's one thing I looked for. But then also, I knew that there were some problems that are more analytical, some that are more maybe UX focused, and so had been recruiting with an eye towards that and to sort of think about, oh, this, this type of person would be a good fit for this type of problem that I know we want to solve versus this type of person would be better fit for this type of problem. And so that's in the back of my mind as I'm hiring. But I think also one of the things that happens is you meet different people. And they can be good for different reasons. And then they have to interact with each other to kind of what you're talking about. And so I think a lot about, as I bring people on the team sort of scenario planning how they're all going to interact with each other and making sure that they, they're all going to get along and add to one another. And then I think that we've been really intentional about or two things, one, talking very specifically about how we take our work seriously. And that causes some people to want to opt in. And some people want to want to opt out. And then we also talk about how we're hiring people who are really kind. And we really want to create a team that's collaborative. And that's been another thing that's really helped Randy Silver:  us. So Maggie, I'm curious, with all that, one of the key things is that we talked about it earlier was about frameworks and tools and things like that. About, you know, everyone's diary is always a mess. It's something that every product person I've ever met has complained about. So when you're starting this from scratch, you've got a relatively small team, you're setting up which meetings which ceremonies which things you want to have, what's working for you so far, What things have you kept, what things if you said, Actually, we don't need this right now? Maggie Crowley:  Yeah, we decided from basically day zero, that we would set. So we're distributed across US time zones. And so we decided that 9am to 1pm Pacific would be meeting time, when we would schedule any recurring meetings or team meetings to be in that block. And then outside of that block, we protect time for focus work. Because again, name of the game for us is scaling and speed. And so we wanted to make sure everyone had time for deep work. So that's one thing that we did. Second thing that we did is we are just using like a rough, Agile Model right now just as a place to start. And then knowing that sort of week to week, month to month, we're going to be iterating on our processes. But we wanted to give ourselves something to start with that was familiar to everybody. And so what we do is we have a 15 minute stand up Monday through Thursday, that's at the beginning of the day ish West Coast time and mid morning, early, mid day, East Coast time. And that is, honestly, it's five to 10 minutes, we made this really aggressive roll where there's absolutely no chit chatting. There's no fun happening in that meeting, which makes it kind of funny because we're trying really hard. But that's intended to truly like, what are we doing? Do we need to get it? Do we need any collaboration today? Are there any open questions, and then we keep it really short. And then of course, we have a retro every other week, and we do sort of sprint planning. And that's allowed us to talk in erector. We spent a lot of time talking about this question about meetings, what's working, what's not working? Do we want to add anything, take anything away. And then we have a 30 minute kind of just look at each other on the Zoom demo Friday. That's just kind of like a nice close of the week. And that's really all we've been doing. And it's been working really well. We have other rituals that we do, but those are more project related and are not recurring. And we're we try to keep those pretty light as well. Randy Silver:  So what have you intentionally not introduced? Or said, we're definitely not doing those? Or if anything? Maggie Crowley:  I'm not even sure I don't know what other? It's interesting, because when you when you start from scratch, it's like, well, what were all those meetings I was in there, I don't even remember what they were. So if I was fighting back against stand up, I didn't think we needed to do that. And I was wrong. for lots of reasons, one of which was because we're new and we don't know each other that well. And so that's been a nice touch, touch point for us to just build more rapport as a team. Yeah, I can't even think of what the other meetings where I'm in a tonne of meetings, but I'm in a lot of sort of leadership, cross functional meetings, and I'm doing a lot of recruiting. But I wouldn't count those as as like the product team, if that makes sense. Lily Smith:  So what about metrics? And how have you started to decide like what to track? And I guess if the business has been very focused on operations, they probably have that kind of operational metrics. But have you had to kind of introduce more sort of product metrics or success criteria for your team? Maggie Crowley:  Some, I think on this question, really, my focus is, is really there's three questions any product team has to answer. You know, one is, are your users using it? Two is Is it working? And the third one is, is it up? So are your performance, you know, are you hitting those sort of quality metrics that you need to have as a team? And to me the the metrics that fit into those buckets depend on the business that you're in the type of product that you have, and I often find that thinking about it as a product metrics versus business metrics is misleading because it should be the same at some level and its own be different on a feature on like a per feature level or if you're doing an experiment. So for me right now and be given the stage that we're in, there's really isn't a distinction between the business metric and the product metric. And so that that's those are the buckets that I think about. What I do think about a lot is that making sure that we sort of future proof what we want to do. So a lot of our current business relies on data. And so for me, I want to make sure that we're tracking everything, even if we're not using it, the thing I don't want to do is, you know, in six months, have a question not be able to answer it. And so I spent a lot of time, you know, with our VP of engineering, thinking about making sure that we're tracking everything so that we can go back and ask questions if we want to later. But we don't need to deal with that right now. The again, the priorities are pretty clear. And then the other thing I always think about is, I think it's really easy for a product team to go hunting around in data and to just start finding things without a hypothesis. And so to me, I really care about what are the questions we're asking, what are the hypotheses that we have as a business and why? And that would be how I would think about metrics and not just like, well, we're a product team, we need to have metrics, let's start tracking stuff. Like, who cares? What does that add? Does that matter at all? Is that time where we're spending right now, it might not be because the problems that might be really obvious. And so again, I always ask, like, what is the hypothesis? Why are we thinking about this? What is the question that we have, and I let that drive the metrics that we want to track? Lily Smith:  And so that's, I find that really interesting around, like, if something's really obvious, and I grapple with this kind of question myself, quite often of, you know, do we need to measure this? Or is it just so obvious that we need to do this thing or, or to, you know, change this thing in some way? Like, how do you decide in your work, whether something is obvious enough that you don't need to measure it, or you don't need to kind of analyse it from a kind of data perspective or a metrics perspective, and you just go, Okay, now, I just need to do this. Maggie Crowley:  Yeah, I would ask, how will you know if it worked? And sometimes, the work it would take to know if it works, aesthetically, is so much and you twist yourself into such knots, that it's common sense. And I think this is a topic that I wrestled with on the podcast a while ago with a couple of guests, which is, to your point, how do you articulate common sense? And how do you build up enough conviction that you know that it's common sense? And I think an example that that came up the other day was with user testing. And so you know, cannon with state, we got to use your test everything. But do you really need to use your test at table? Probably not. Should your table be sortable by the column headers? Probably should should you start it with roughly like alphabetical based on the leftmost column, probably. That's a fair assessment. And I think it's stuff like that where like, you probably don't have to use your test that but we don't have to analyse whether the table is working, because it's a table. Right. And I think it's things like that, that people forget that you don't always have to do, you can move more quickly. Especially if it's a pattern that already works. Your users already understand that you don't need to recreate the wheel for whatever reason. Lily Smith:  Makes sense? Randy Silver:  Okay, I'm going to ask the question if going in totally the other direction, which is one of the things that I see people flounder with and ask questions, but again, again, is I hate the tool that we're using to track our metrics. So how did you decide what to use? Maggie Crowley:  Is this such a red herring problem? People like obsess about their tools? And who cares? It's it has nothing to do with the tools, right? Like, you don't need it, you could have just some sort of raw SQL layer, and you can answer your questions for yourself, if you really needed to, you could use Excel CSVs, whatever. I just think that people are when it's not really pupil, it's when you are over focused on the tool, there's something deeper happening that is preventing you from doing your work. And I often find that there is a lack of confidence in the question or in the person's ability to answer the question. And it causes them to fix it on the tool, when really, it's not about the tool, right? It's about like, I don't know what to do. I don't know how to solve this, or it's, I'm having trouble solving it. And so I'm going to blame the tool and not really like be honest about the thing that's happening. So for me, we haven't even really picked most of our tools yet. I'm basically using Google Drive or G G Suite, JIRA notion. And that's about it right now. We'll add and we're adding tools as we go a figma. But yeah, I mean, I don't know I'm always reluctant to add tools because I, they almost never solve problems. Lily Smith:  Yeah, I hear you on that one. Also, having made some mistakes with tools where I go where I kind of think I think we really need this, and then we sign up to it. And I'm like, God, we really didn't need that. Maggie Crowley:  Yeah, I mean, one of the tools, I think, a common one, there's obviously, sort of data analytics tools. And there's lots of reasons why you would would or wouldn't pick those, I don't personally have a strong opinion about them, I can use, they all kind of will answer your question and be frustrating in different ways. It's usually not a big deal. I think the problem is like, when you take too long to pick on the product management tooling side, there's always this promise of, you know, this tool is going to make it easy to communicate your roadmap to like these 25 different stakeholder groups. Maybe that's true, I haven't really spent a lot of time trying them out. So I can't really speak to that. One thing I will say is that by using Google Drive, or slides or whatever, you have to kind of like rewrite it every time to the different stakeholder group. And I find the practice of having to do that and to think through the thing you're gonna say to be really valuable, and it makes the story better every time I tell it. And so sometimes I like tools that have friction in them, because it forces you to think about what you're saying. And it forces you to reevaluate your language and think about what that stakeholder group needs. And so to me, sometimes a friction isn't totally a bad thing. Lily Smith:  And we're kind of coming to time. But before we finish up, it would be great to find out a bit more about what you do on the research side of things. So you know, quite often when I start somewhere new, like one of the first things I want to do is go and like interview a bunch of customers or the kind of user groups. So how have you approached that within the team when you've got, you know, a whole bunch of people starting? And presumably no user research function? That's a question mark. Maggie Crowley:  Yeah, we don't have a user research function yet. I am a big believer in constant discovery. And so the first thing I did was shadow as many parts of our business as I could, obviously, in healthcare, there's some restrictions to what you can and can't attend. But I spent a bunch of time with our clinical team, with our internal team that runs a lot of the programme, the team that's running some of the sort of ops behind the scenes. And I would say, if I were to join a non healthcare company, it's like, I'm, yeah, I'm going to interview 1020 30 users, I'm going to interview prospects, I'm going to interview people who turned I'm going to interview all the stakeholders in the team put together those journey maps on like what people are doing. I think it's important as a product leader to go through that to really understand the thing that you're working on. I think it's important, every pm that joins every designer that joins has to redo that exercise for themselves as well. And kind of can we have this journey map that is consistently being edited and created by the team, as we add people, as one of our onboarding activities is really important to have people do that. And then it's really important to me to have continuous moments where we are, you know, building in ways to talk to our users across the different personas that were never wanted, I guess maybe what I'm what I'm saying is what I don't want is to have user research to be this like distinct thing that we go and do at one point, which is true, maybe we were going to do that when we have a design that needs to be user tested, or we have a specific research question. But I also want there to be sort of continuous contact with those teams and the conversation of what they need. Because they think that just helps you have their point of view and their needs in your mind as you're building as you're making decisions on the margin as the team sort of moving forward. So that's sort of how I think about it. I also when I joined, or when I started at this company thought, you know, we don't we don't need a research team, we'll just we'll just have PMS and designers do it themselves. I've completely reversed my my point of view on that. And I think bringing in a user research team earlier is going to be a big unlock for us. And so I'm starting to think about that now. Randy Silver:  Maggie, that was fantastic. I would love to keep talking to you about this all day. But I think you have a day job to get back to. So thank you very much. It's been a lot of fun. Maggie Crowley:  Yeah, of course. Thanks for having me. It's always fun to talk about this stuff. Lily Smith:  The product experience is the first and the best podcast from mine the product. Our hosts are me, Lily Smith, and me Randy silver. Louron Pratt is our producer and Luke Smith is our editor. Randy Silver:  Our theme music is from humbard baseband power. That's P au Thanks to RNA killer who curates both product tank and empty He's engaged in Hamburg, and who also plays bass in the band for letting us use their music. You can connect with your local product community via product tank, regular free meetups and over 200 cities worldwide. Lily Smith:  If there's not one near you, maybe you should think about starting one. To find out more go to mind the product.com forward slash product thank.