Recap: Product Makers Roundtable - Oct 2022 edition

  • 18 October 2022
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Recap: Product Makers Roundtable - Oct 2022 edition
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Sharing some notes from our October Product Makers Roundtable event.

We post these after each event to share a bit about what was discussed (without giving away specific details or confidential information).

Topic 1: Customer interview best practices

  • Know the purpose of the interview (e.g. discovery in the problem space or discovery in the solution space? General problem discovery?), the outcome you’re trying to get to over your time together, and establish a list of the discovery questions you want to ask
  • Leave room in your interviews for you to respond to and dig deeper into what your customers are sharing with you in the interviews
  • Partner with others to establish the goals and questions for the interview, bring in your engineering, design, and other stakeholders where needed. Also helps as someone can focus on the interview while someone else takes notes
  • Good question examples: What are you doing today? What’s frustrating with the current options? What can’t you do today?
  • Read: Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal
  • Important to share research and learnings afterwards. Do a debrief after the interview with the team, get your notes into Productboard so they can be actioned by the team, and leverage Slack or other channels for distribution of learnings asynchronously -- build a culture of continuous discovery and learning.

Topic 2: Obtaining accurate estimations from engineering teams

  • Current problem: Finding it hard to plan capacity as estimates all over the place, currently using sizing buckets based on hours, not t-shirt sizing, story points, or complexity
  • Leverage velocity tracking - indicator of past performance to inform future capacity for sprints and evaluate work in progress limits - maybe they are context switching too much?
  • Give room for the entire team to participate in estimation. Leverage collaborative methods like poker planning and discuss estimation differences (could be team members under or over estimating effort)
  • Every team is different, so don’t apply a blanket capacity to all teams, find what each team is best able to deliver, get them to commit
  • Could be caused by the mindset of the team, might need to break down work a bit more, do a spike to learn more, and clarify requirements
  • Create psychological safety - make sure engineers can speak up time boxing can create issues
  • Create a sense of accomplishment - help them visually see progress

Topic 3: How to best setup squads model in a complex product organization

  • There are various approaches and tradeoffs but try to avoid creating silos while keeping teams aware of outcomes and objectives
  • Don’t just copy what others have done, find what works best for your organization (e.g. even Spotify doesn’t use the squad model anymore)
  • Read: Four fundamentals of team topologies

Topic 4: Changing a product design system

  • Context: Design system was built a long time ago, design library has some restrictions and no longer able to address all use cases and needs. Curious how to address the gaps.
  • Do an audit - component by component and identify the gaps.
  • If this is blocking some changes from being made, try to adapt parts of the library and make incremental changes where needed while you buy time for a larger evaluation of current state and future state options.
  • Don’t just switch for switching sake. Try to quantify the cost of maintaining the existing library vs. switching and build a business case. Every product has tech debt, so while painful, it may not be time to move or make sense economically.

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