The difference between design and product management

Giff Constable design, product management

Yesterday I was asked how a designer differs from a product manager. I found the answer surprisingly hard to give. Everyone designs, but not everyone is a “designer,” which encompasses both a skill set and a mindset. I look for designers who bleed into product management and product managers who bleed into design. The venn diagram overlaps significantly in terms …

The Most Important 60 Seconds for a Product Manager

Giff Constable design, product management

As an entrepreneur pitching VCs, I learned the hard way how important the first words out of my mouth could be. You couldn’t get those first few seconds back. The start of every conversation outside your inner team is no different for a product manager (or UX designer). How you set context impacts everything you do. It sets you up …

A Product Manager Checklist

Giff Constable design, product management, startups

We’re always thinking about “minimum viable process” — i.e. what’s the least process that gets the job done. The answer to that changes as your team size scales, but I think it’s always worthwhile to fight a running battle for no more prescriptive process than you need. This impacts everything from how you treat agile, how you approach research, how you interleave …

Playdoh and Silly Putty

Giff Constable design, product management

Why do we like working with our hands so much? What is it about making something tactile, that gets the brain engaged? Whenever there is a complex decision to be made, and usually nothing is more hairy than prioritization debates, I like writing things out on index cards (one item per card, bonus if I have time to draw icons …

Slack’s Success and Silos vs Teams

Giff Constable design

(Note: I’m going to leave the original post as-is, but I don’t think I wrote it very well, so see the addendums to prevent misunderstandings. Maybe. This is the Internet after all.) I read a blog post today that shocked me. A design agency taking credit for their client’s success. Which was surprising unto itself but what was more surprising …

The Value Behind Faster Horses

Giff Constable design, lean

David Bland has a funny, and painful, graphic called the Product Death Cycle. It clearly illustrates one of the more dangerous parts of customer development: taking customer ideas literally. The famous line attributed to Henry Ford goes, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.” Some people take that as an …

Research vs Design

Giff Constable design, lean

“Research is the process by which we understand problems. Design is the process for which we solve problems.” Yes! Watch this video of Farrah Bostic’s talk at Lean Day West on how to improve the world of qualitative research.

Sharing Sketch files with Github

Giff Constable design

While we don’t dictate tools in the Neo NYC office, a large number of us have long moved to using Sketch, the vector design app from Bohemian Coding. One struggle has been sharing Sketch files. Dropbox handles them OK, but last time we tried, Google Drive and Box.net did not. But given the way Sketch saves, with Dropbox it can …

11 Customer Development Anti-Patterns

Giff Constable design, lean, startups, UI/UX

Update: check out my book on customer development Talking to Humans   Steve Blank always liked to say, “In a startup, no facts exist inside the building, only opinions.” The lean startup movement encourages that you get out of the building with a mixture of experiments and qualitative research. Doing qualitative work gives you several benefits. It helps you learn …

Group sketching, yes! Groupthink, no!

Giff Constable design, innovation, UI/UX

I am a big believer in the necessity of sketching for good product design and product-team interaction. So, I was nodding my head vehemently when it came to Joshua Porter’s latest post, “The importance of sketching in product design“. Group sketching allows a team to get on the same page very quickly. In addition to preventing confusion or conflict, group …