Learning to love the creative process and putting UX first

Back in 2014 Objective Corporation began a journey into understanding user experience (UX). As a Senior Product Manager for their main product (legacy enterprise software with a fairly ugly Windows UI) and a fan of design, this was something I really wanted to embrace.

Along the way, the journey turned into a revolution, one that fundamentally changed how the product development teams saw our role and one that elevated the needs of the users of our software over the choosers that selected and paid for our product.

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Objective’s UX Journey Became a UX Revolution

But let’s back up a bit, I want to describe one of the key learnings for me as a product manager before I talk more about what we achieved. …

How will COVID-19 impact society, our lives and work?

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It is already obvious that there will be many whose lives will be cut short by COVID-19, and most of us would rather it had never entered our lexicon, but I want to think out loud about what is likely to change after COVID-19, and especially anything that might change for the better.

Context

For a start, some context, it is April 2020 and I write this from Sydney in NSW, Australia. So there is still lots of the Coronacrisis to come. Currently, we have a lockdown that restricts people to their homes unless they are required to go elsewhere to work, are shopping for necessities or are exercising. …

What you can learn from some old school strategy models

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There are some things you need to know because they help you make sense of life, because they explain the assumptions and foundational ideas in your working world and because they are just useful.

I grew up with a management consultant father who launched into the latest McKinsey & Co theory every time I had a question about how the world worked. While these models are older than Lean Startup Canvas or Blue Ocean Strategy or Jobs to Be Done, they still have value in looking at the bigger picture of where your business, and therefore your product, is going.

As a product manager, you need to grow the value of your product, and the strategy models in this article will help you understand the strategic choices that best help that. …

How orienting your thinking around your concept, capability, culture, and context can support great product strategy

View of a headland at dusk from under the foresail of a yacht on starboard tack.
View of a headland at dusk from under the foresail of a yacht on starboard tack.

There are lots of different approaches to defining your product strategy, the best all start from an understanding of your organization, your product, and your context.

Many startups have a single product, and the business and product strategies are one and the same thing. Often as disrupters, they know more about what they are not doing than what they are. This can make product strategy something obvious and something you look to the founders to provide.

In larger companies, there can be many products and product strategy is informed as much about what has already been achieved as what is still to come. As a new Product Director for the ECM product at TechnologyOne, this is where I found myself, and I needed to orient quickly to understand where we already were as a product strategy update was overdue. …

Three concerns to bear in mind, three roles to play

Dr. Edward de Bono introduced the Six Thinking Hats concept to help business managers learn how to introduce more creativity and innovation to their work by using different modes of thinking. I’ve seen similar tools for other problem domains, for example reviewing a piece you’ve written using different mindsets, once for spelling, another time for grammar, yet again for clarity and perhaps finally for whether it makes the impact you wanted.

Early in my product management career, I came across a similar concept for product managers to use. It was a little simpler as it covered three main concerns or three roles the product manager could play when considering product changes.

Why our drive to constantly build new startups is like tossing away hundreds of years of urban design.

I am a bit of an architecture nerd, several friends were architects at uni and I used to love helping them with model building all-nighters. Several years ago I got the chance to design and build my own house from scratch.

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The house that Angus built

I like building analogies for software products, they don’t always fit because the software is, well, soft, but they are surprisingly useful when looking at legacy software products, which I’ve worked on a few times.

So consider the choice between renovating an existing house, or knocking down and rebuilding it. With software products, we can face the desire to build something new, in a startup perhaps, or to choose to enhance an existing legacy software product. …

About

Angus McDonald

Product manager @ terem.tech, Agilist, collaborator, husband, father, Christian. All opinions expressed are my own. https://about.me/angusmcdonald

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