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I Don’t Know
(And That’s OK.)


    Cindy Alvarez
    The Experience is the Product - http://www.cindyalvarez.com



     ...
I’m here today to
promote ignorance.


                     Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
Product Development Maturity




                               Copyright 2009 Cindy Alvarez
Product Development Effectiveness




                              Copyright 2009 Cindy Alvarez
How does “knowing”
 kill great product
   development?

                      Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
Knowing is static but the world
changes




                                  Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
Knowing is apples but the
 situation may be oranges




Crowdsourced localization of KISSinsights - 100+ questions in 14 l...
You know but you don’t know
enough
            ONLINE BILL
            PAY

            average bills paid/
            mo...
You know but you don’t know
enough
BEFORE:                 ONLINE BILL               AFTER:
put incoming bills in   PAY   ...
Knowing makes you lazy and
you’ll forget to provide data

                  “Users need this...
                  The mark...
which breeds HiPPOs.

             “As the CEO, I just know this’ll
             work...”




                            ...
If you were right, you denied your
team the opportunity to learn
and feel awesome




                                Copy...
And if you were wrong, you lose
credibility



    “This is all your fault! We built exactly what you asked for.”




    ...
For great product
development to thrive,


                     Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
Foster a culture of
   not knowing
   but learning


                      Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
“WAIT!
What do you mean,
you don’t know?!”

                    Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
(This approach isn’t easy on
enterprise customers, CEOs, or
project managers.)




                         Copyright 2010...
“I don’t know, but --
 • here’s   how we’re going to find out..”
 • my   hypothesis is...”
 • here’s   what I do know...”
...
More rigor
+ More work
+ More uncertainty
= Better odds*
* come on, you know there are no guarantees in product developmen...
OK, so how do we
foster a culture of
   not knowing
   but learning?
                      Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
Start with ground rules:


                       Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
It’s always OK to ask
“what is the goal of doing this?”




                              Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
All brains are good brains.




                              Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
Limit “heads down” time.




                           Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
“Ugly data” trumps no data.




                              Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
Develop your own
 learning funnel:


                    Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
interviews    A/B testing
competitive research
                 surveys     user testing best practices

        bug repor...
Teach your team to fish:


                      Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
Don’t expect people to “just know”
how to contribute

                       How can we ask the customer?

               ...
Show off:


            Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
We learned ____________,
               so we didn’t build _____________,
               which saved us ________!




We l...
Oh, and --
don’t try to do this
   all at once:

                       Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
idea                            this was great
idea                            this sucked
idea                           ...
Go out there
 and “I don’t know”
your way to your next
   great product!

                        Copyright 2010 Cindy Alv...
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I Don't Know (and that's OK)

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Keynote address for Product Development Insights conference - NYC 10/1/2010.

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Transcript of "I Don't Know (and that's OK)"

  1. 1. I Don’t Know (And That’s OK.) Cindy Alvarez The Experience is the Product - http://www.cindyalvarez.com Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  2. 2. I’m here today to promote ignorance. Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  3. 3. Product Development Maturity Copyright 2009 Cindy Alvarez
  4. 4. Product Development Effectiveness Copyright 2009 Cindy Alvarez
  5. 5. How does “knowing” kill great product development? Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  6. 6. Knowing is static but the world changes Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  7. 7. Knowing is apples but the situation may be oranges Crowdsourced localization of KISSinsights - 100+ questions in 14 languages Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  8. 8. You know but you don’t know enough ONLINE BILL PAY average bills paid/ month average $/payment most likely to pay these types of bills log in X times/month pay X bills per session Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  9. 9. You know but you don’t know enough BEFORE: ONLINE BILL AFTER: put incoming bills in PAY cross it off the the bill pile calendar average bills paid/ circle due dates on month check if I can pay more calendar towards my credit average $/payment card bill set up reminders on my cell phone most likely to pay transfer extra into these types of bills savings pen and paper calculations log in X times/month check when payday is pay X bills per session Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  10. 10. Knowing makes you lazy and you’ll forget to provide data “Users need this... The market demands this... Trust me and just build it.” Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  11. 11. which breeds HiPPOs. “As the CEO, I just know this’ll work...” Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  12. 12. If you were right, you denied your team the opportunity to learn and feel awesome Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  13. 13. And if you were wrong, you lose credibility “This is all your fault! We built exactly what you asked for.” Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  14. 14. For great product development to thrive, Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  15. 15. Foster a culture of not knowing but learning Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  16. 16. “WAIT! What do you mean, you don’t know?!” Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  17. 17. (This approach isn’t easy on enterprise customers, CEOs, or project managers.) Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  18. 18. “I don’t know, but -- • here’s how we’re going to find out..” • my hypothesis is...” • here’s what I do know...” Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  19. 19. More rigor + More work + More uncertainty = Better odds* * come on, you know there are no guarantees in product development! Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  20. 20. OK, so how do we foster a culture of not knowing but learning? Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  21. 21. Start with ground rules: Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  22. 22. It’s always OK to ask “what is the goal of doing this?” Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  23. 23. All brains are good brains. Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  24. 24. Limit “heads down” time. Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  25. 25. “Ugly data” trumps no data. Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  26. 26. Develop your own learning funnel: Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  27. 27. interviews A/B testing competitive research surveys user testing best practices bug reports market research analytics summarize (most companies skip this --> fail) “what’s important” Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  28. 28. Teach your team to fish: Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  29. 29. Don’t expect people to “just know” how to contribute How can we ask the customer? How can we ask the data? How can we compare ourselves to alternatives? How can we try “doing the opposite thing?” How can we gain a new perspective? Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  30. 30. Show off: Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  31. 31. We learned ____________, so we didn’t build _____________, which saved us ________! We learned ____________, so we quickly did _____________, which earned us ________! Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  32. 32. Oh, and -- don’t try to do this all at once: Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  33. 33. idea this was great idea this sucked idea this needs work idea this was great (It won’t be this neat, but you get the idea.) Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
  34. 34. Go out there and “I don’t know” your way to your next great product! Copyright 2010 Cindy Alvarez
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