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Tales From a Balanced Team


Published on

SpringOne Platform 2016
Speakers: Jim Thomson; Product Manager, Pivotal. Alex Basson; iOS Developer, Pivotal. Josh Franklin; Product Designer, Pivotal

Have you been the engineer blocked on shipping a feature because you were waiting on Design to "figure it out"? Or wondered why you’re building a particular feature, or have your own ideas for the product vision? Have you been the designer who spent days designing an interaction only to find out it couldn't be built, or the PM trying to bridge the divide? It's time to take down those silo walls! Josh Franklin, Alex Basson, and Jim Thomson – a designer, an engineer, and a PM, respectively, will give a "Balanced Talk" on their successes and failures building the Small Token iOS app, and share the tactics they used to stay aligned as an Agile team and continuously learn from each other. Extended Description On traditional product teams, engineering, business, and design often sit in their own, walled-off silos.The “business” (usually a product owner) generally defines large swaths of requirements, chucks them over a wall to designers, who chuck designs back to the business, who package it up and chuck it over to the developers and ask how long it’ll take to deliver. They request features and designs with no regard to implementation, and engineers don’t have any input or view into the “what” or “why” of product and design decisions. There’s a better way! At Pivotal, we form “Balanced Teams,” made up of developers, a product manager, and a designer. For many reasons, a Balanced Team leads to better products and happier team members. In this talk, a balanced team of Engineer, Designer, and PM use real-world examples from our work on Small Token, a charitable giving iOS app, to illustrate specific advantages of working as a balanced team. We show how our practice here at Pivotal contrasts to a “traditional” product development cycle - and why it works. We expect the audience to learn techniques they can take home to their own product teams. They will be better empowered to evangelize for, and fully take advantage of, Agile principles. Specifically, engineers in the audience will learn that they can have an important voice in the direction of a product.

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Tales From a Balanced Team

  1. 1. SpringOne 08.02.16 With Alex, Jim, and Josh Tales from a Balanced Team
  2. 2. Balanced Team Values Create Trust Share Experiments Celebrate Failure Diverse Voices
  3. 3. About Pivotal Labs ● Small, multi-disciplinary teams (Product Manager, Engineers, Product Designer) from Pivotal and Clients ● Projects are both execution and enablement, we teach and work fast! ● Clients work on-site with us ● Cross discipline pairing ● User centered design (user interviews, personas, experiments, synthesis) ● All these things combined make us great agile/lean teams
  4. 4. The Project Small Token app
  5. 5. The Client Give Lively - a nonprofit looking to change the way people give. This was their first product.
  6. 6. The Problem As our world becomes more materialistic, how might we create a simple and instant way for givers to express gratitude in a more meaningful way?
  7. 7. The Project Give Lively and Pivotal developed an application called Small Token that makes it easy and quick to give a donation to a nonprofit on behalf of someone you care about.
  8. 8. Product Manager Designer Engineers Client PM Stakeholders The Team 1 1 4 1 2
  9. 9. The Timeline Research Kickoff Sep. 29th, 2015 Development Kickoff Oct. 13th, 2015 MVP Launch Giving Tuesday Dec. 1st, 2015 Milestone 1 Gift Customization Dec. 16st, 2015 Milestone 2 Photo Customization Jan. 13st, 2016 Disengagement Jan. 22nd, 2016 8 weeks
  10. 10. Balanced Tales
  11. 11. Collaborative Research During our research phase, engineers, designers and PM’s participated in user interviews and synthesis sessions. This allowed us all to gain more empathy for end users and insight that helped suggest tech solutions and platforms.
  12. 12. The people who do the research are those that build the product. UNBALANCED Research may be done outside of the project, and team members may not participate BALANCED
  13. 13. “Minimum Approvable Product” David, our Client PM, had done research in the App Store guidelines, and was aware of a special rule requiring charity apps to accept payment outside of the app. But guidelines are vague. This prompted us to create a “Minimum Approvable Product” to submit as early as possible to ensure our app would be approved.
  14. 14. Business and Tech Concerns are Intertwined UNBALANCED Tech decisions follow business decisions BALANCED
  15. 15. Diversity of knowledge is shared UNBALANCED Knowledge is siloed BALANCED
  16. 16. Sketching Studio We did a sketching/design studio during our Discovery and Framing process after identifying key users and working through scenarios. This helped us collectively arrive at a MVP workflow for giving a gift that incorporated UI ideas from across the team.
  17. 17. All members of the team are given an opportunity to provide design ideas UNBALANCED Designers pitch mocks over the wall to implement BALANCED
  18. 18. Story Time For every project we meet as a team once a week to discuss prioritization of stories. On a few occasions, design set aside time to pair with the Pivotal PM and client PM on writing stories and fleshing out acceptance criteria.
  19. 19. All team members have input into how features are broken down into stories, and their priority UNBALANCED Business decisions drive requirements, and their priority, without regard for complexity or user value BALANCED
  20. 20. Design/Dev Pair Throughout the project there were times where it was necessary for design and engineering to pair on complex user flows. For example, Alex approached me one afternoon about some unknown complexity with cropping photos within the app. The next afternoon we spent a few hours pairing together in xcode spiking the cropping interaction for multiple screen sizes.
  21. 21. Everyone has a responsibility for the success of the product, so we work together as necessary to make it happen UNBALANCED Roles are typically siloed, and disciplines stick to their sole responsibilities BALANCED
  22. 22. Thanks!
  23. 23. ARCHIVE
  24. 24. Where to sign up? Product and design had made a workflow decision about account registration. A developer raised an important concern about this decision’s impact on payment conversion. We immediately broke out as a team to discuss the implications of this decision on product, design and technology. ?
  25. 25. Take-away All team members should feel empowered to influence product, design, and development decisions.