Getting your Product Managment Design Mojo back

As technology companies grow it’s really easy to lose your design mojo. I find that especially common within product management teams. Although also part of the job, product management becomes more like project management where product managers are mainly managing a backlog and writing detailed specs for engineers to take over. It becomes less about collaboration and more about documentation.

My product management approach is a highly collaborative one where I try to involve all stakeholders early in the process. This also reduces conflicts and time waste later on when justifying different prioritization decisions.

The design sprint has been a highly effective tool to create that collaboration and keep design a focus throughout the product development process. A typical week will look as follows:

Monday: Charrettes

Charretes are where everyone on a product development team (designers, product managers, engineers) get together and clearly define the problem being solved. Everyone involved then collectively ideates solutions and a hypothesis is created that can be tested.

Tuesday: Sketching & Critique

First part of the day is spent sketching ideas on paper individually to avoid group think. Then the afternoon is dedicated towards critique and voting on the top ideas.

Wednesday: Decide

After creating a collection of ideas the team decides on which ideas to move forward with. This is usually done through voting. Once the idea has been chosen , the later part of the day is spent choosing personas and creating a system for recruiting participants to validate those ideas.

Thursday: Prototype

The goal for this day is to create a prototype of an idea that can be handed over to real users for testing. Majority of the time very little coding is done at this stage. The goal is to have something that looks and functions like the real thing but is only a prototype. I use Apple’s Prototyping: Fake It Till You Make It process.

Friday: Validation

Friday is dedicated towards “Getting out of the Building” and testing your prototypes with real users that fit your persona description. Here’s checklist adapted from Google Ventures workshop on user testing:

– Create a recruiting screener
– Post recruiting screener where the right people will see it

– Select and schedule participants
– Start creating interview guide
– 
Confirm participants
– Complete interview guide
– Review prototype with your team
– 
Set up test devices and recording system
– Interview five customers!
– Summarize findings and plan next steps with your team

I’ve adapted a lot of my product management process from the Lean UX book that I highly recommend any product development team to read. Additionally Google’s Design Sprint is another great resource that dives more deep into this process.

Here’s a video that highlights the process described above:

 

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Zain

Zain Abiddin is an Entrepreneur & Product Manager. He is the founder and Product Manager of Chillik Media, a design led software agency based in San Francisco.

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