Product Management, User Experience & More: Lessons From 2015

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FIND THE CITY In Jan 2015, I started working on an app that helps people find the right city for them Had 20+ informal user interviews, mapped the stakeholders in the ecosystem around the problem, charted the (provisional) customer journey map etc.

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MAIN LESSONS● User research can uncover new problems that are much more important for your target users Examples: ● Onboarding versus discovery, when it comes to moving to a new city ● Most of the people moving to a new city currently move through a job opportunity ● In most of the couples moving to a new city, the partner that doesn't move with the new job opportunity makes a compromise professionally

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MAIN LESSONS● With the accelerated growth of digital nomadism, Find The City or similar initiatives will probably be more relevant in 1-2 years, after there is a big enough critical mass of digital nomads ● There's no problem in putting cool projects on hold and reactivate them when their estimated traction is way better than the present

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BITDEFENDER: Design Sprint Inspired by Google Ventures, ran a Design Sprint with the Mac product team The Design Sprint is a 5-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping and testing with customers

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BITDEFENDER: Design Sprint Day 1: Unpack Day 2: Sketch Day 3: Decide Day 4: Prototype Day 5: Test with customers

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MAIN LESSONS● Involving the right people at the right time in the process is an art ● High fidelity prototype usually takes more than estimated ● It's ok to validate with multiple batch of users; Refine validation after each batch of users

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P&G SESSION: Prototyping Was invited to share insights on Prototyping during an internal P&G Leadership Festival Presented with an UX friend from Adobe

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MAIN LESSONS● Adobe's Kickbox program is a great example to be shared with all the big companies out there: with their executives and intrapreneurs ● There are really lots of concepts and practices from user experience and product management that can be applied to internal processes & services. All intrapreneurs would benefit from basic UX & product management training

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BITDEFENDER: Beta Program Coordinated Bitdefender’s most complex beta program so far: Beta testing for the Windows, Mac, Android main products and the new Bitdefender Central platform

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MAIN LESSONS● In a project with lots of stakeholders involved, it’s useful to actually have a list of all stakeholders involved and, for each of them: key points of interaction, communication to be sent, milestones, escalation points ● Defining the profile of the beta tester and targeting it on social media is fun ● Responding to beta feedback is a great exercise for a Product Manager

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PRODUCT TANK LONDON: Using analytics as a PM Attended one of the monthly Product meetup in London 300+ Product people Speakers from King, Prezi, Linkdex

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MAIN LESSONS● Find the human behaviour and emotions driving each metric ● Avoid metrics porn = watching a deluge of data that makes you feel good and appeals your ego. Focus on what will prompt you to do things differently as a result ● From Jono Alderson’s preso: The HEART metrics framework Happiness, Engagement, Activation, Retention, Task Success ● King optimizes engagement in each Candy Crush level through heavy multivariate testing

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MIND THE PRODUCT Attended in London the biggest Product conference in Europe 1000+ Product people Represented the Product community in Romania

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MAIN LESSONS● Dana Chisnell: Every government service is a product. New age govt IT infrastructure: "Break big stuff into smaller components, APIs, reusable components, efficiency across agencies at smaller costs". ● Dave Coplin: Context is going to be king - where you are, how you feel, what you do - all is important; great personalization to be expected. ● Ken Norton: If you can identify all the steps to get to the end, it's not a 10x idea + If you aim for 10x, you have to think about the problem completely different.

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MAIN LESSONS● Nilan Peiris: How are we inspiring advocacy in our customers? The product is not enough. They need stories to talk about. ● Jared Spool: Put in roadmaps customer problems to address in the next period, not features (solutions) to build. ● Shiva Rajaraman: See how people use / hack your product and embrace it. Your country is not your world, so look outside your country. Mentorship is key in product. Reach out to a mentor or be a mentor.

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MAIN LESSONS- ● Product Managers around the globe share very similar challenges (discussed especially with peers from Product Tank Valencia & Helsinki in 2015)

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PRODUCT TANK: Product Strategy Monthly meetup of the local Product community This edition focused on Strategy 70+ Product people Speakers from 2Parale, Avangate, Hootsuite, Zitec

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MAIN LESSONS● Vladimir Oane compared business strategy and military strategy Summarized in this article ● Strategy as “a specific way to win” ● “If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn’t plan your mission properly.” ● Knowing the playground (market) through reverse engineering the competitor’s strategies.

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HOW TO WEB: Product Metrics How To Web is a cool tech innovation conference for South Eastern Europe Moderated the Product Metrics panel Speakers from Prezi, Eventbrite, MindTheProduct and Hootsuite

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MAIN LESSONS● Is this metric relevant for the product/business/stage that I am in? ● Different metrics can be used as arguments for different stakeholders ● Getting the data and tracking the metrics are useless if no product decisions are made based on them

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PRODUCT TANK: Product Launches Monthly meetup of the local Product community This edition focused on Product Launches Mix of Product, Marketing, PR, Tech and Startup people at the meetup

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MAIN LESSONS● Timing: When is the right market window? Take into account big events; Benefit from the launches of the competitors and piggyback from your differentiation (example: Apple Watch and Vector Watch) ● Pricing: Test pricing before launch; launch with simple pricing plan; price skimming strategy ● Organizational readiness: are Sales, Support, Tech teams ready for the launch?

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VODAFONE: Mobile for Good Mobile for Good conference organized by the Vodafone Foundation Discovered some really cool projects

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DISCOVERED● Beacons that can help blind people recognize the next bus ● Glucometer and app that can help people with diabetes manage easily their daily medication ● Phones with panic buttons for the elderly, for receiving immediate medical assistance ● Volunteers that are notified of nearby accidents and can provide first aid

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PRODUCT TANK: Intro to Behavioral Economics Workshop on Behavioral Economics, held by a trainer from the Center for Behavioral Studies during a Product Tank meetup Behavioral Economics studies the effects of the psychological factors on the economic decisions a person makes

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MAIN LESSONS● Must be aware of the cognitive biases in product teams ● Choice architecture is something to explore in depth ● Defaults matter: “When we don't know what we want, we are guided by the environment" ● The MINDSPACE framework: Messenger; Incentives; Norms; Defaults; Salience; Priming; Affect; Commitments; Ego

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MENTORING: MVP Academy, TechHub Open Hours, Innovation Labs MVP Academy is a local pre-acceleration program for tech startups TechHub Open Hours is a local mentorship program for tech startups Innovation Labs is a local pre-acceleration program for student teams

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MAIN LESSONS● A prerequisite of building a great product is to understand well the problem that you are solving ● It's useful to measure a baseline of the product metrics before making interventions like A/B tests, new features, growth hacks etc ● Inexperienced product teams have the tendency to validate their product with their friends & family only

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OTHER PRO BONO PROJECTS: RestartEdu Platform, Mellow, Alternative University app RestartEdu platform RestartEdu is the Romanian community of innovators in education. The goal of the RestartEdu platform is to become a 'one stop shop' for both formal and informal educational projects in Romania. Contribution to clarify the scope, prioritization & wireframes for the MVP. Alternative University app App for onboarding new students of the Alternative University. Contribution in clarifying the scope, prioritization & wireframes for the MVP. Mellow is a new premium honey brand. Minor contribution in packaging design.

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MAIN LESSONS● Clarity in scope with all the stakeholders is critical when starting such projects; involve the development team as soon as possible ● Quality of work and keeping commitments are equally important in pro bono work as they are in paid projects ● In side projects that I'm not driving, it's ok to adapt to the pace of the teams

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MICRO INTERACTIONS Moments in the interaction with a product or service that create user delight. Held a presentation about the topic at a local Product meetup and separately for my colleagues at Bitdefender. Created also this mindmap

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MAIN LESSONS● Tools for creating a unique personality for your product or service ● Reverse engineering micro interactions of extraordinary products is a great learning tool for a product manager or user experience designer. The Little Big Details blog also helps ● Food for thought: what are your personal 'micro interactions' with other people? What are the 'micro interactions' of your organization with your customers?

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BITDEFENDER: User Research Did a series of user research, both quantitative & qualitative Goal: understand the needs and context of multi-device owners

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MAIN LESSONSQuantitative: ● Extremely important in designing any survey is to start from the learning objectives. Then, find the best, unbiased etc. questions to address the learning objectives ● Sample size can be easily calculated with tools like this Qualitative: ● Interesting to hear from our users what was the path they took to get our product & previous solutions they had. It’s not always what you expect ● Setting remote user interviews is a real hassle. Delegate when possible

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PRODUCT TANK: User Research Organized the monthly meetup of the local Product community that focused on User Research Speakers from Adobe & Hootsuite

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MAIN LESSONS● Critical: list all your relevant assumptions before starting user research ● Face to face user interviews have the added benefits of non-verbal language ● Contextual insights are important - visit an user in his own environment when possible ● Listen to the user instead of defending or selling your product

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ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSITY INCUBATOR: Customer Journey Mapping Workshop on customer journey mapping for the businesses in the AU Incubator Wrote this brief article on Customer Journeys

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MAIN LESSONS● Great tools (e.g. customer journey maps) can be presented in 10 minutes. The experience of practicing using the tool matters in a workshop ● Customer Journey Maps can uncover what entrepreneurs actually know about how their clients discover, try, buy etc. their product ● Identifying current highs and lows on a customer journey can help prioritize the roadmap

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UX Bucharest The first User Experience conference in Romania 250+ participants

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MAIN LESSONSFrom: “Integrated Customer Experience Design” by Erik Roscam Abbing ● Understand the context For example: when they seek a drill, people want to buy a hole. In that hole they want to insert a nail, on which they might want to hang a family photo, which evokes pleasant memories The true art is to make the connection between the hole and the pleasant memories

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MAIN LESSONSFrom: “Magical UX and The Internet of Things” by Josh Clark “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” –Arthur C. Clarke ● What if we bring some wonder into our lives with our advanced technology? Technology should amplify our humanity. ● "Interaction at the moment of inspiration". Technology should be invisible for most of the time and emerge when needed to help us get the outcomes we want.

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UX MEETUP: Thoughts on Identity and User Experience Local meetup of the UX people One of the speakers was Cristian ‘Kit’ Paul - Brandient, leading branding agency in Romania

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MAIN LESSONS● What if logos had more functionality than linking to the website? ● What if we had responsive logos? Logos that respond to the context of the user, hinting a certain status or recommended action ● Branding is part of the user experience. As designers, we should take this more into account

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LONDON: Museum of Brands The Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising has a collection of over 12,000 items dating as back as far as the early 1800s. It features cool products such as the first Mars Bars and Kit Kats from the 1930s.

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MAIN LESSONSProducts from different decades reflect where the attention of the society has been. Thus, if we can predict where the attention of our current society will go, we can create the next generation of successful products.

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MILANO: World Expo Giant exposition on technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity and how they relate to food and diet. Principal focus on the right to healthy, secure and sufficient food for all the world’s inhabitants. 145 participating countries

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MAIN LESSONSAs one of the main goals of the expo was to convey lots of information in an attractive fashion, this visit was a masterclass in great infographics. Digital vs. Physical Conventional vs. Unconventional Interactive vs. Static Giant vs Miniature

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VALENCIA This visit helped shape my vision of cities as really big products and citizens as users. New question: “What are the specific features of a city?” In Valencia, one specific feature is the Turia river bed gardens, which stretch for almost 9 kilometers through the city

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Bonus- The City of Arts and Sciences hosted the Pixar 25 Anniversary exhibit. Discovered extraordinary storyboards and this cool zoetrope. Was inspired by the entire process of creating an animation.

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ASPEN: Creative Cities Conference on city challenges and creative solutions Case study: Washington D.C. Speaker: Uwe Brandes

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MAIN LESSONSNew questions: ● As we can begin to better measure how cities perform, do they do the things we want them to do? ● What is the good life in this new context? Common challenges of modern cities: Demographics, people getting older + lack of knowledge workers Competition for capital globally Energy mng and security + water mng Lots of data that we never had before Climate change, rising seas Mng urban infrastructure, financed and maintained Importance of capital markets, investment to your city Understanding risk in cities Cities plus nature, nature in cities City sustainability, from inside and outside city

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MAIN LESSONSOther considerations: ● ● ● ● Process of scenario planning, iterative, multiple options - to be applied also in city planning Transportation - integrated systems, mobility systems, quality of the experience, otherwise private companies will create them. Example: Uber What is the effect of the Internet to the experience of the city? ○ Example: impact in the commerce of the city and where you go to shop To take into account: Street design + Culture of the area

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WEEKLY REVIEW & PLANNING 1 hour weekly, on Sunday afternoon Going through personal projects, recurring weekly activities (e.g. walking the dog, grocery shopping), social, health, entertainment activities, money planning etc.

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MAIN LESSONS● The single most impactful new habit in 2015 ● Provides clarity & balance, better follow-up, progress on multiple projects ● Contributes to designing great weeks (with both must haves and delighters)

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HEARTHSTONE GAME OF THRONES LCG Mmm… addictive card games

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MAIN LESSONS● Value is the strength of your cards ● Tempo is how many cards you have in play Comparing resources in games (cards) and personal resources in real life (skills, knowledge, attitude, network, money, reputation etc.): Value translates to personal development and Tempo translates to the ratio of personal resources that are used to generate actual results in reality

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CAESAR Forum Forum organized by the CAESAR Foundation 12 groups of expertise to work on public policies for 12 areas Contributed to the Entrepreneurship & IT group

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MAIN LESSONS● There is a need for more competent people in the ‘system’ ● Transparency is core to minimize corruption. Minimizing corruption is core to have an efficient system ● There is a need for way more civically engaged professionals in our society ● Key question: "what can I as a citizen do for a better society?"

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