In my last article I discussed the top reasons for slow product, and here I wanted to highlight the top reasons for weak product. I am defining weak product here as product that fails to meet its objectives and provide new and expanded sources of revenue and/or growth for your company.
I work with quite a few product teams, and after a while you start to see patterns. Many organizations are frustrated because they believe that it takes far too long to move from concept to delivery. They often just blame the skills of their developers, which is rarely the root cause in my experience.
I am writing this article sitting on yet another international flight, and I wanted to discuss what I believe to be the start of a truly transformational trend.
Have you noticed how fast a team goes when they’re just getting started, but that once the product is live and there are customers and users, that the velocity of the team can slow down to a crawl? It’s an all too common problem, and it causes frustration all the way around. Once you have real customers and/or an active sales team, there are always bugs to be fixed and changes urgently needed. So the development team no longer has a clear focus because they’re now being pressured to fix and change the prior versions at the same time they’re being pushed to create significant new things.
I’m often asked about the blogs I read and the people I look to for inspiration as to thought leadership when it comes to product. Sadly, for several years I couldn’t give a very good answer to that, however, today there are some exceptional people that have published their experiences, and I thought I would highlight my favorites here. If you like the topics that I write about, I’m confident you’ll also like what these people have to say.
I hope that everyone that reads this knows that I am one of the biggest advocates in our industry for user experience. Because I generally work with the CEO’s, VP Product, and product managers of technology companies, I am probably in the best position to explain to them the importance of user experience design in coming up with great products. I am not a designer, and I don’t have a design agency I’m trying to sell, so they know I have no personal interest other than I just want them to create better products.
Regular readers of this blog know that I’m all about true collaboration, where product leaders, designers and engineers work together to discover products that customers love. Mostly I talk about the process and techniques involved in this, but today I wanted to talk about the physical space and work environment that can be optimized to nurture and support this.
Most of my writing is aimed at the product organization, and in helping that organization evolve to where it needs to be to truly serve the needs of the company. I have also written about how the leaders of the company can help facilitate this. This article, however, is aimed at those leaders that are not actually helping, even though their intentions are typically good.
In the early 1980’s, I was a very young software developer working at HP Labs, and this was when personal computers had been out just a few years. The computers were getting faster and more powerful every few months, yet users really struggled to interact with them. The head of our research lab, Joel Birnbaum, posed the question: “Why do most people not like their computers?”
There’s a debate that’s been going on in the design and user research community because the legendary Don Norman wrote an essay in which he did an about-face and decided that doing user research to start a project was mostly a waste of time.