Sketching a Path Forward

sketch-forwardDon’t debate the debaters, but instead, influence the influencers.

Product managers are leaders and influencers of features, ideas, and epic tasks. Some have direct and backed authority, many others have variants that are partial or merely implicit. Either way, to achieve the greatest success, do you rule with force? Or influence, and guide, and allow for shared discovery in support of your product’s end goals?

Functional Forms

When your designer says “no”… how do you get them to “yes”? Let’s look at this challenge with respect to a few designer types that many of us have had the pleasure and privilege of working with.

The Perfectionist
The Innovator

This week, let’s take a look at…

The Mixologist
The Standard Bearer

The Mixologist

The Mixologist may lack vision or a good stream of resources. No problem.

Influence the sources. If the sources are blogs, suggest other blogs more inline with your desired approaches. If the sources are people, work with them, share your vision, share your perspectives, recommendations, creativity, logic and reasoning. Build relationships and foster broad support from below. Tread lightly here; you do not want to offend The Mixologist by overstepping or allowing any of your relationship building to be construed as anything threatening.

When The Mixologist is aligned with your goals and proposing ideas you have pitched and sought, get your ego out of the way… #1 is always to achieve the business objective. And, if you have built sound relationships, the right people will know where the credit truly belongs. Oh yeah… and frequent lunches with The Mixologist help too.

The Standard Bearer

“Standards are great, because there are so many to choose from.”

There are a ton of standards out there. For every standard, there is another competing one. Identify the competition, share it around the organization. Build support for the new standard, or at least for a willingness to experiment with it. Let those new supporters become the advocates of the new thinking. Foster an environment where multiple ideas, multiple standards can co-exist and compete on objective measures. Encourage and reward the experimentation with competing standards as well as non-standard concepts. Standards are great; they can always be improved.

Designers are people, too.

Yep. And, they too, do not often fit a simple character description. Most designers are a mix of traits, some potentially described here.

Generally speaking, the best influencer, the one to really buddy up to, is statistics– they can often be your best influencer and supporter in most cases. Collect the data, find the data, and introduce the data (“your key influencer”) to your designer and together understand it, explore it, and challenge yourselves to build upon it.

Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing various examples and approaches in wielding strategic influence as a successful product manager.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

The Pixel Perfectionist

pixel-pefectDon’t debate the debaters, but instead, influence the influencers.

Product managers are leaders and influencers of features, ideas, and epic tasks. Some have direct and backed authority, many others have variants that are partial or merely implicit. Either way, to achieve the greatest success, do you rule with force? Or influence, and guide, and allow for shared discovery in support of your product’s end goals?

Functional Forms

When your designer says “no”… how do you get them to “yes”? Let’s look at this challenge with respect to a few designer types that many of us have had the pleasure and privilege of working with.

The Perfectionist
The Innovator
The Mixologist
The Standard Barer

The Perfectionist

Perhaps your idea isn’t perfect, or is suffering from The Perfectionist’s attempt for design perfection. Or, perhaps, the design is spiraling into endless edge case bottomless pits of despair.

The Perfectionist can be difficult to influence by anyone less perfect than themselves (nearly everyone else). You may recognize The Perfectionist by these additional traits…

  • Has to be in control
  • Gets carried away with the details
  • Frequently criticizes others
  • Refuses to hear criticism
  • Checks up on other people’s work
  • Has a hard time making choices

Leverage the Peer Group

At their core, The Perfectionist seeks acceptance and approval. Encourage praise from their peers and coworkers for their work; satisfaction breeds productivity and openness to more ideas (especially those that may have received firm “no’s” in the past)

Create an environment that rewards good ideas. Perfectionism can often be curbed through healthy, time-constrained competition – encourage speed and near perfection over 100% and lagging delivery. A mix of some competition with other individuals / groups coupled with tracking and metrics can help lower the individual’s reservations about taking risks while simultaneously establishing a structure for setting and achieving more realistic goals.

The Innovator

Innovator may find your ideas too bland and normal… that’s fine, provide avenues for their creative spirit.

The Innovator can be pushing the limits of design so far that their designs lose the ability to communicate form and function, usable value. The Innovator often seeks to inspire, rather than motivate – motivate the product users to action, to buy, to come back.

Set objective, measurable goals. For example, change the challenge from improving usability by moving the login button to a new location, to increase the rate of logins by 20% and time on the website by 40% for each logged in user. When you redefine the problem in these terms, you then empower The Innovator to iterate, to innovate, to dazzle, to do whatever they can envision… as long, at the end of the day, the goals are met.

Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing various examples and approaches in wielding strategic influence as a successful product manager. Next week, we will look at …

The Mixologist
The Standard Barer

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Draw in the Designers

imageDon’t debate the debaters, but instead, influence the influencers.

Product managers are leaders and influencers of features, ideas, and epic tasks. Some have direct and backed authority, many others have variants that are partial or merely implicit. Either way, to achieve the greatest success, do you rule with force? Or influence, and guide, and allow for shared discovery in support of your product’s end goals?

Let’s Take Designers

There are all types of designers. To describe a few…

The Perfectionist

Can often get lost in the weeds and minutia. They may even often fail at the on time delivery of a product since, for them, nothing less than 100% perfect will do.

The Innovator

A genius at creating new design patterns; and is always trying to work them into every corner of the product design. They seek to establish previously unexperienced trends. And, they may see themselves more as an artist than as a designer working to meet the business requirements of customers, or product managers.

The Mixologist

They take, borrow, improve ideas of their own, from their team, peers, as well as, from outside the company (blogs, designers, books, websites, …). They may not be doing the heavy lifting, but, make no mistakes, they are the design conductor behind the scenes.

The Standard Barer

This individual of rigorous ideals, follows only the establish design patterns — shirking from trying the untried ideas. Often they end up following these standards to a fault, impinging innovation and other business goals.

The Problem

Your designer doesn’t want to make the changes to the UI that you think will provide additional business value, through usability, productivity, better experience, …

What do you do? Twist an arm? Or, understand the individual, and influence the influencers?

What’s your advice for these and other types of designers?

Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing various examples and approaches in wielding strategic influence as a successful product manager.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

From Knitting the Startup Story to Challenging your UX Designer

Every week I read thousands of blog posts. For your weekend enjoyment, here are some of those highlights.  What are you reading this weekend?

01_story

On Starting Up…

http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/07/does-your-startup-have-a-good.php
Weaving the perfect startup story.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.inspireux.com/2010/07/05/challenging-conventional-assumptions-about-user-experience-design/
Challenge your UX designer today!

02_catirona
03_dokdok

On Modular Innovation…

http://mashable.com/2010/07/09/email-attachments-dokdok/
Taming file attachments with Modular Innovation, DokDok.

 

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy