Can I work like a start-up?

If you’re a Product Manager or UX Designer in a large organisation you can experience many frustrations and be envious of the autonomy that is associated with a smaller start up environment.

Instead of spending time researching and understanding what your customers problems are, you were probably handed a list of “features” to develop. So what can you do about it? You might feel like the answer is nothing but I don’t think this is true. I appreciate that takes a lot of time effort and pain to try and completely change how your company works but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give it a go on your own team.

Despite the fact that you might be very busy, I believe that you can still set aside a little bit of time in your week to go and do that research, even if you spend a couple of hours a week to listen to some customers, chat with your support team, send out a survey or look at reviews of your website/app. From that research you can identify a problem e.g. 80% of customers who forget their password are calling our support centre rather than resetting it online. The next step is to agree your desired outcome e.g. Reduce the number of calls by X%.

Once you are armed with this, you can then start talking about possible solutions and testing them out to see which are likely to achieve your desired outcome. You will come up with lots of different options and some will require a much larger effort than others so what you need to do is work out what is the smallest change you can make that will have the biggest impact. From the example mentioned previously above, here are some of the possible solutions:

· Use Bio-metrics instead of a password

· Change your criteria for your password to something simpler

· Create a new slicker password reset journey

The challenge with all of these solutions is that they will require a lot of time, effort and money to deliver and with all of the other features on your backlog you will never get this done. But instead of looking to the larger obvious solutions maybe there is something simpler you could do that will still achieve your desired outcome such as :

· Change the name of your password reset button

· Make your password reset button more prominent

Both of these options can be quickly and easily prototyped and tested to validate your proposed solution and once validated, they won’t require a lot of development and test effort. After you make the change you can then monitor the numbers to see if you achieved your outcome.

The beauty of this approach is that even if you don’t move the dial, you haven’t wasted too much time/effort and you will definitely have learned something. If you do move the dial you will have learned, you will have achieved a desired outcome and you have a real example of delivering something in the way that it should be done.

I’m sure that some of you will still be skeptical about being able to do something like this in your current team but what’s the worst that can happen? Once you are sensible with the problem/solution that you chose and only spend a small amount of time on it then you should be fine. Maybe you will be told to keep your efforts focused on the feature list from now on but hopefully it won’t come to that.

Sometimes you just have to ask for forgiveness.