A Photo Album Product Strategy & Design Meetup, 9.19.19

You Complete Me: The Junction of UX and Product Management

Hosted by SPR

Special thanks to our featured panelists and moderator (from left): Litha Ramirez, David Kinney, Will Norris, David Shastry, Brynn McCoy, Scott Blair, Varun Kapoor, and Robynn Upton.

I’m now in-house after being in an agency. In the agency, challenges or constraints felt like obstacles to getting things done or obstacles to a great idea that I had come up with. Whereas now, when I run into a challenge or constraints, I see it as an opportunity to learn something different about the product or how my team views creating the product. It’s also helped me to understand the value that I deliver.

Scott Blair, UX Team Lead, VP Product, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

"Embrace ambiguity and conflict. We have a tendency to think that a well-functioning team can’t have conflict, when in fact conflict is very healthy. Learning how to wrangle conflict and being comfortable with the uncomfortable and the ambiguous is really important." — Litha Ramirez, Executive Director of Experience Strategy & Design, SPR
I was an engineer before I went into product management and was on a project where a lack of collaboration between design and engineering ended up costing our team a ton of time and money. What I learned was that I needed to get into product management to help change the mindset. Engineers can really help you to develop a fantastic product if they are brought into the process earlier. They can help you to see some of the constraints that you otherwise cannot see. There has got to be cross-functional collaboration. 

— Robynn Upton, Director of Product Management, Intelligent Medical Objects

"I was assigned to a product owner and the first question I asked her when I introduced myself was 'what can I do to piss you off?' She smiled and told me what would piss her off and then asked the same question back to me. We ended up being able to work really well together because we had trust and empathy from the outset, and we were able to learn right away how to work with one another." — Will Norris, Lead UX Strategist, SPR

Designers have an advantage if they are good at empathy and can figure out the value systems for all of the counterparts of the team. They can then create ongoing connections with those value systems and build tighter relationships with one another. It’s much better when everyone is collaborating as much as possible.

— Bryn McCoy, UX Director, Product Designer, Adjunct Faculty, Columbia College Chicago

Three key lessons that I have learned. One is to build trust within the team across disciplines. Second is to improve communication strategy—you have to learn to speak the language of the person sitting in front of you. The third is to listen. It’s better to listen and take in the information before reacting.

Varun Kapoor, Senior UX Designer, GE

When cross-disciplinary partnerships go well, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever been a part of—the sum is greater than the parts.

David Kinney, Principal Architect, SPR

If you ever have C-suite executives as a part of your product design and rollout process, they have to be managed very carefully because it can either derail your process or it can set you up for massive success. It is difficult to tell an executive to dial it back, but the faster you can recognize it, the quicker you can mediate it.

David Shastry, Creative and Product Lead, DebtPay

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