Product Thoughts

Lessons learned from product teams, a product we love to hate, and stupidity … all in one rambling post.

Here are a few delightful product-related posts I've come across recently:

Lessons learned from scaling a product team

via @Padday

There’s been lots written about how Internet businesses should build software, from books like The Lean Start-Up, and posts from Google Ventures, but not many examples where startups open up their process and show how it really happens.

I couldn't agree more with this quote, which is why I find the blog from the team at Intercom to be a must-read for anyone working in product. In this recent post, you can see how the sausage is made over at Intercom and the lessons they've learned along the way in developing their process.

Blackboard’s Complexity Problems

via @georgekroner

Learning management systems, specifically Blackboard, are students’ favorite product to hate. Odds are that, like me, you once critiqued Blackboard for a programming or design assignment in school. Stale UIs, overly complex navigation, and poor performance make for an easy target, but in your Red Bull fueled midnight rant for class, did you consider the complexity that the team at Blackboard was dealing with?

Check out this post and the insightful exchange in the comments, which offers a great perspective on accruing technical debt, supporting old APIs, and managing an enterprise product while allowing for endless customization.

Presumption of stupidity

via @harris

[Founders will] look at other businesses and identify inefficiencies or bad systems, and decide that those conditions exist because of dumb decisions on the part of founders or employees.

This is an all too common view of competition I've seen from founders and across all teams in tech. This mindset can be toxic for startups, and can lead to complacency and overlooking shifts in the market. Good leaders seek to understand the environment in which their competition is making strategic decisions, and communicate this to their team to maintain motivation and drive.

How Dropbox Sources, Scales and Ships Its Best Product Ideas

via @firstround

At first, put all ideas in zero gravity. It creates a special atmosphere where anyone can contribute a great idea.

It is important to source ideas from all over a company. Whether it’s from support, marketing, engineering, or anyone else, each team has a different perspective on the problems facing the company and customers. By opening up your process and making it transparent, you can empower every team to contribute to the success of your product. [More to come on how we are trying to strike a balance between an open and closed product development process at TeachBoost.]

There are a lot of posts detailing the latest and greatest on shipping product, but many leave out the details in the process of sourcing and prioritizing product ideas. This post from the team at Dropbox does a great job of detailing how they do this across a large team.