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Ramon Harrington of Vistaprint on Choosing What Not to Build

| Podcast with Ramon Harrington Follow 0 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 11 Followers on Jan 02, 2018 |

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In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Ramon Harrington of Vistaprint about his QCon New York talk on Rapid Prototyping.

Key Takeaways

  • Putting engineers in front of customers and having conversations results in far better understanding and empathy for the customer’s needs
  • Be prepared to launch before you’ve built everything you think the product needs in order to avoid building features people don’t want
  • In engineering there is often a “right” answer, in product identification there isn’t – you don’t know until you try it out
  • Launching early with a reduced feature set can result in more engaged customers because their important problems are addressed first, and the product will be improved incrementally
  • Sometimes the software that you don’t write is more important than the software that you do write
  • 0:30 Introductions
  • 1:05 The Hatchery as an innovation lab focused on identifying new opportunities for Vistaprint
  • 1:43 Ways to differentiate good ideas from bad ideas
  • 2:05 Using customer surveys and customer feedback metrics – customer satisfaction
  • 2:25 Using money as an indicator – customer spend
  • 3:05 The importance of meeting customers in person to validate ideas
  • 3:28 Putting engineers in front of customers and having conversations
  • 3:53 The need to explore the customer reactions and pull pieces from different ideas together
  • 4:12 Overcoming the “pet feature” response by ensuring you talk to many different customers
  • 4:35 The importance of the engineer or designer remaining detached and not holding on to a feature because you came up with it
  • 4:48 Most of the ideas will fail so being able to let go is crucial
  • 5:07 Becoming comfortable getting honest (and sometimes unpleasant) feedback
  • 5:35 The waste that happens because of unused features
  • 5:51 Be prepared to launch before you’ve built everything you think the product needs in order to avoid building features people don’t want
  • 6:20 This approach focuses the teams attention on ensuring what is built is good
  • 6:35 From the customer perspective the UI is the most important aspect
  • 7:08 Most of what is needed is unclear, don’t assume that it is more predictable than it actually is
  • 7:25 In engineering there is often a “right” answer, in product identification there isn’t – you don’t know until you try it out
  • 7:52 Telling a story of how this experimentation approach can work in a real product
  • 8:38 Design the experiment to answer the question that matters – in this example “will people use this feature” rather than “can we process credit card payments”
  • 9:32 Overcoming the concern about releasing a not fully-baked product – in today’s technical environment releases can be almost constant and products can and should evolve
  • 10:38 Listening to customer feedback results in teams motivated to improve
  • 10:52 Most launch deadlines and intended launch feature sets are artificial
  • 11:05 Launching early with a reduced feature set can result in more engaged customers because their important problems are addressed first, and the product will be improved incrementally
  • 11:42 Techniques for actively avoiding the waste of redundant/unwanted code
  • 12:04 Leveraging open source and packaged solutions in order to focus on what makes you unique
  • 12:17 Consciously choosing to descope some activities (levels of testing and test automation, for instance) in the early release in order to get feedback quicker
  • 12:44 Focus the right level of engineering for the right stage of the product
  • 13:05 Going to the extent of scrapping what has been built once the ideas are validated and rebuilding them from scratch with all the quality aspects built in
  • 13:54 This is a mindset shift – embrace uncertainty and allow learning to happen
  • 14:49 Having engineers respond to customer support requests results in solutions being identified and built quickly
  • 15:10 If an engineer needs to handle the same issue twice, it goes away really quickly because the solve it
  • 15:42 Having engineers handle customer support feels inefficient but it actually results in better products and better teamwork
  • 16:05 The freedom for every member of the team to advocate for things they want to work on or fix
  • 16:42 The voice of the customer has the strongest influence on what gets worked on
  • 17:05 Sometimes the software that you don’t write is more important than the software that you do write
  • 17:40 Engineers need to think beyond the what and how of a feature and really understand why it is important (or not)
  • 18:04 These decisions belong to everybody, not just the product owner or business lead

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