On November 4th, the Furthermore team journeyed down to lovely Brighton for a day of product-focused learnings at UX Brighton. It was the first time the event has taken place since 2019, and by far its biggest turn out with over 700 people in attendance. Over the course of the day we heard from a variety of great product leaders and practitioners, and although there were far too many good insights to capture all of them here, we have pulled out a few of our favourite takeaways from the day…
Don’t get caught in the “Agency Trap”
This session kicked off the day's proceedings at an expectant Dome Concert Hall in Brighton. Through developing our own product, Go Jauntly, and working with our fair share of SaaS product organisations, we are very familiar with the easily blurred lines between product and agency work. Janna Bastow, highlighted the key reasons why product organisations can get pulled off track taking on custom work for clients. Having a sales-led roadmap which prioritises features based on client or sales team requests is a clear sign of falling into the agency trap. Instead product teams should move more to a discovery led roadmap, focusing on features that tie directly back to the overarching vision and product goals. Going cold turkey from custom client work might not be feasible, but working to gradually shift the balance in favour of user-led product work should be the aim.
Knoll to increase confidence and reduce arrogance
Jonty Sharples criticised the arrogance of the “move fast and break things” way of working made famous by Mark Zuckerberg. Instead he argues for the process of knolling, or arranging all of the pieces of lego kit so you can see what you have before you begin building. Take the necessary time throughout the whole creative process, though it may be long and we may be tempted to cut corners. Sticking to the process is being confident, but taking shortcuts is a sign of arrogance. As strong proponents for evidence-based design, we can agree with this wholeheartedly!
Jack of all trades, master of SOME
The NHS encourages their staff to have T-shaped skill sets in order to increase efficiency and save lives. Louise Bloom’s time working as a Physiotherapist showed just how effective it is to have that core skill / craft supplemented by smaller skill sets. She argues that the benefits apply across all industries, not just healthcare. Having well-rounded employees leads to better collaboration and more efficient teams. For me as a project manager, supplementing my PM skills with a good level of knowledge in UX, design, and development helps me have more informed conversations and increases my value to the team.
You don’t get ANYONE to do ANYTHING
We ended the day with a high energy presentation from Matt LeMay on how he is always asked the wrong questions. By asking how you can GET product managers to appreciate research you are giving away your power. Reframe the question so that you are in the driver's seat, helping them achieve their goals.
Goal alignment not role alignment
Matt LeMay also hit the nail on the head when he said that organisations usually need goal alignment, not role alignment. No amount of team reorganising can help unless the whole team is aligned on what they are trying to achieve. This was a recurring theme throughout the day really. Every speaker touched on the importance of a shared vision with clear goals and targets. From well crafted product road maps to “high-altitude and high-specificity goals”, it seems that everyone would agree that defining the strategy is crucial to allowing organisations to constantly innovate in both product and process.