#mtpcon London+EMEA is just around the corner which means we don’t have long to wait until we’re at our first in-person conference since pre-Covid. With the excitement building, here’s a reminder of the nuggets of wisdom we’re about to have bestowed upon us — we revisit a handful of tips from previous #mtpcon speakers, Jeff Veen, Joe Leech, Christian Idiodi, and Nancy Douyon.
Developing emotional stability
In his 2016 keynote, Crafting a Creative Culture, Jeff Veen asked the audience to do the following exercise:
Picture yourself in a boat on a still lake at sunrise. The boat flips over. You then see that some teenagers you over. Would you feel rage? Embarrassment, maybe? What if the boat had been overturned on a piece of driftwood?
In the case of the driftwood, the emotional response would be different, he said. “You can decide to feel the same way in both of those circumstances,” said Jeff. “Emotions can be a choice, not an automatic response. This is not repressing our emotions, but understanding and acknowledging them… it’s emotional stability, equanimity, grace under pressure.” It’s a skill we can cultivate and, Jeff explained, it’s one that people making products should prioritise.
Jeff’s tip: Be mindful of how emotions play a role in what you do — understand them, acknowledge them, and use them appropriately. Product teams can and should develop this important skill.
Supporting as you lead
In his 2020 keynote, Christian Idiodi, Partner at SVPG, explained why problems within organisations are people problems, and what product leaders can do to tackle them.
As leaders, he told us, part of the job is to be a part-time therapist. Leaders need to know the problems facing their teams to avoid disconnection and in order to foster a culture of trust – from onboarding, to one-to-ones, to assessments.
Leaders need to be vulnerable, he added, to show understanding, courage and positive intent, in order to get the same from their team teams.
Christians’ tip: By giving context, establishing a transparent supportive culture and engaging at all levels, you can oversee great products built by great product teams.
First, recognise your privilege, then leverage it
In her 2020 keynote, Nancy Douyon, Design Ethicist and Product Philosopher, illustrated the importance of unlearning our Nobility Complex, taking our research away from Western cultures, and looking at how we can design products for underrepresented groups, leveraging our privilege to better serve everyone.
The best way to begin, she said is to recognise your privilege and then leverage it. Ask: “What am I going to do to ensure I can make a change?”. Be open to learning more, by unlearning and understanding your own cultural biases and over-indexing under-representation to build equity.
She suggested 4 easy ways to get started:
- Design a platform or participation ladder that provides 2+ underrepresented group checkpoints
- Test your learnings for marginalised communities in immediate or primary markets
- Turn your assumptions into questions
- Hire, retain, and be accountable for diverse talent
Nancy’s tip: Because we don’t all come from the same place, we need diverse ideas. This requires us to hire diverse teams and to be accountable — strive to create a safe culture that will nurture and grow talent and consider underrepresented voices in products through accessibility testing to create versatility.
Using psychology to innovate
In 2018, Joe Leech reminded us that people hate change. They hate it, he told us, because change means breaking patterns of behaviour they rely upon. Take existing users, for example. They normally hate improvements to a site they hold dear, even if they’re better for new users. This vocal minority, said Joe, can cause genuine issues for organisations and needs to be addressed if you’re making changes. The best way to implement changes is through slow and gradual iterations. What’s more, if you can understand your users’ mental models, you can create new products that fit in with the ways they see the world.
Joe’s tip: As product managers, we need to understand the psychological steps that people go through, if we are going to build products that people truly love and use.
Join us at #mtpcon London+EMEA
#mtpcon London, we’re back and boy, have we missed you! Join us on October 21 and 22 for two days of product inspiration — as always, you’ll connect with some of the biggest names in product and get the chance to network with over 1000 of your peers, but this time, we’re going hybrid! Find out more on our #mtpcon London/EMEA page.