Musings

Design Thinking for Product Management

Head of Product In July 2017, a recruiter called me up and I jumped at the chance to be Head of Product at a health insurance & wellness start-up — in Sydney, Australia! This particular “start-up” is actually being incubated under the umbrella of one of the country’s most trusted consumer brands, with strong customer relationships and marketing reach into over 50% of Australian households. It felt like a dream come true to define and deliver innovative digital solutions with a small, co-located team, as an equal member of the leadership team alongside Heads of Marketing, Tech, Sales & Operations, Finance and Commercial. The company as a whole hovered around 65 employees, while the Product team I managed comprised two Product Managers, two UX Designers, two Visual Designers and a Product Analyst. For any given initiative, we would be tightly interwoven into virtual teams typically with Marketing, Tech and Commercial colleagues. This preface provides context for sharing one of the most significant impacts I made in this organization — the ratification of a design-thinking based, strategic product management process. When I first joined this highly agile company, it was still operating in a mode that most informed by implementing against initial business hypotheses using Lean approaches. The roadmap wasn’t...

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Defining UX

Like every senior practitioner within the fields of UX, I too have cast my modeling hat in the ring when it comes to defining User Experience Design. Note that already I come from a design perspective; my own roots lie in Interaction Design and Design Research, while I have particular interest in Human Factors Engineering and the management arms as well. I’ve proposed a view that represents the fields of User Experience Design organized on a spectrum comprised of the soft skills we all possess: Understanding; Definition; Communication. We must excel in understanding people, technology, domains, problems; we must excel in providing definition to that understanding and advancing it towards a goal, in terms of defining models, approaches, scenarios, solutions, frameworks, systems; and we must excel in communicating this user-centered understanding and solution definition in all ways, including visually, verbally, and into development and launch which gets into product management territory. Here’s that view: All of the root disciplines can be placed on this spectrum in terms of their most natural affiliation with the skills of Understanding; Definition or Communication. Obviously none of us would survive as professionals if we didn’t have a balance of all three. If we delve deeper into the individual disciplines, we can see that each...

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