Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden

Authors of Lean UX and Sense & Respond

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON April 05, 2017

Discussion

Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
Hi - I'm Jeff Gothelf, coauthor of Lean UX and of the recently published Sense & Respond. I've been a designer, product manager, team leader, executive coach and organizational designer. I work at the nexus of lean startup, enterprise agile and design. And I'm Josh Seiden, I'm the co-author of the books Jeff mentioned. My background is in design and product management. I help teams create businesses and launch new digital products and services by helping them form strategies, design products, and figure out how to work more successfully with one another and within their companies. (I'm the good-looking partner.) We're delighted to be here - ask us anything!
Dan Vineyard@danvineyard · Product Designer
Hello! Can you talk about a process of using Lean UX within an Agile framework? It seems like the two are difficult to integrate. Any suggestions?
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@danvineyard Hi Dan. Lean UX is *all about* agile. It's a set of techniques and frameworks to bring UX into Agile--where are you having trouble integrating?
Dan Vineyard@danvineyard · Product Designer
@jseiden We have a sprint '0' where I can do a lot of UX work, which is where I apply the Lean UX process, but then once we have started our sprints, it seems it's all I can do just to keep up with the pace of development. It's hard to go back to that end-to-end view when we story point user stories at such a granular level. We are missing the forest for the trees, but I'm not sure how to get back to that space where we have more time to really think through the problems we are trying to solve. Thanks!
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@danvineyard @jseiden part of the issue here is how your team measures success. If it's success is measured by the number of features it ships (and the efficiency with which you ship them) there will never be enough time to do good design work. However, one of the core Lean UX principles is to manage to outcomes (changes in customer behavior). If you can get your team thinking about success in those terms, then the velocity of delivery matters much less. The team starts to focus on the customer, what matters to them and what makes them successful. This means going back and not only tweaking/optimizing code but content, copy, and interaction design.
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@jboogie @danvineyard Yeah, lean UX is about learning--so if your team is about learning, the techniques will work well. But a lot of teams that use "AGILE" methods are really just doing incremental development--they're feature factories. Feature factories are not oriented towards learning from feedback. In that case, lean UX isn't a great match. Honestly, in those cases, nothing is a great match.
Braxton Huff 🙌🏻@3raxton · Creator traveling the world 🙌🏻
Being an aspiring UI/UX Designer with an interest in startups, what is the best way to display a portfolio when applying for jobs? Before continuing to the next question, what is the difference between a product manager or product designer and UI/UX Designer? Furthermore, to make it to the position of a UI/UX Designer what kind of schooling did you go through? Looking forward to your answers!
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@3raxton When I'm trying to hire designers, I'm looking to understand both the quality of the work they produce and the quality of the thinking process that went into it. Any given design choice could be a good one or bad one--so WHY did you make it. Telling the story is important. For schooling: I learned on the job. We didn't have "ux designers" when I started! Dinosaurs roamed the earth. :-)
Braxton Huff 🙌🏻@3raxton · Creator traveling the world 🙌🏻
From today's view, is there a specific path that you would look at taking over another to obtain a degree such as psychology VS HCI? Furthermore, seeing that you learned your job, do you see degrees to be not as necessary in some cases?
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@3raxton I went to grad school for human factors in design. It was helpful in teaching me the fundamentals behind good design and how humans perceive and react to stimulus. That said, I didn't need to go to grad school to learn how to make wireframes. I think there is a place for school in becoming a good designer, engineer, product manager, etc but it needs to balance theory with real world practice -- i.e., not just what to do but how to apply it in a company, with clients, etc. The problem is that universities struggle to adjust in timeframes the market demands (i.e, they're not agile). So you may not get everything you need from a formal program because by the time you finish it the realities on the ground may have shifted.
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@3raxton I'm a big believer in the liberal arts. I think college is a time to lay in a foundation of experiences--a taste of lots of different areas of knowledge. A time to learn to think critically. Of course, while you're doing this, there are technical skills you can pick up--learning to write (what I studied) or draw or paint or sing or engineer or science etc. I don't think any of these particular hard skills are inherently better than others for a UX career. Certainly when I was hiring designers from 2012 to 2015, I barely glanced at their majors. What I did look at was what kind of designer they were--and there are lots. There are technically oriented designers who know css/html. There are visual designers with gorgeous portfolios. There are analytical designers who produce wireframes and strategy briefs. All are valuable, and most will find a fit. At the end of the day, what got people hired was evidence that they had done the work, or could do the work. So I looked at their portfolio and work history, their side projects (maybe they studied photography--did that reveal something about their eye?) their volunteer work, etc. Show me you can do the work or learn how to do the work and I don't care about the degree. OK, I know--but what program should I attend? I liked the programs at CMU very much--interdisciplinary design programs that exposed students to a range of skills and taught collaboration.
Braxton Huff 🙌🏻@3raxton · Creator traveling the world 🙌🏻
@jseiden I have read that it is best to present portfolios in a case study format. Do you have any tips to perfecting a portfolio or ideas that you would argue against? Also, are there any portfolios that have stuck with you after viewing them?
Ayrton De Craene@ayrton · Code @ Product Hunt
What is your writing process?
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@ayrton Jeff and I collaborated in Google Docs. We wrote an outline, divided the chapters, wrote chapters, exchanged them, critiqued and then divided up who would address what. Of course, all of that came after about a year of research and writing proposals and trying to get the outline right.
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@ayrton Josh and I will write an abstract and see if we believe it. If we do, we'll write out an outline of what table of contents might look like. We start writing the things that we immediately can write -- i.e., the things that don't require research -- which starts to give us a sense of how the thesis is playing out. From there we adjust and iterate the TOC. We split the TOC by person and then put everything back together with edits in Google Docs. The hardest part is smoothing over the writing styles so it feels like one, consistent narrative.
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@ayrton I'm going to expand on this a bit. We wrote our first book in Scrivener. Scrivener has this nice feature that lets you organizer your manuscript as a series of cards. One one side you have your text, on the other you can write a summary or headline. You can then view your whole book on a card wall. Very helpful for organizing a big piece of writing. But it's a single user tool. Which sucks. So for the second book, we did the organizing on whiteboards--getting together once a month or so to look at structure and flow. I find that I need to be able to zoom in and out when I'm working on something as big as a book. Getting that zoomed out view is hard.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Hey if you had to swap lives with tech CEOs for a week, who would it be and why?
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@bentossell Elon Musk. I just want to see how terrifying his life is. :-)
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@bentossell I might ask the CEOs of my client firms to step into my shoes to see what their people are experiencing. The view from the top is pretty different than the view on the ground.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What do you believe that very few agree with you on? Also, what does one of you believe that the other does not agree on?
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@bentossell I believe a hot dog is a sandwich. Josh doesn't.
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@bentossell Related to work though, we believe in the power of managing to outcomes. We meet with many executives who claim to agree but, in practice, don't make the switch. My guess is they don't actually believe in the approach as much as they say they do.
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@bentossell I believe pickles should be made without vinegar. Jeff and I disagree on the use of the word "task" as a verb.
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@jboogie @bentossell A hot dog is a universe.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What is your number one advice for first time founders?
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@jacqvon Talk to your customers. And never stop. Listen to what they're saying ESPECIALLY if it contradicts with what you believe to be true. Your customers are the ultimate arbiters of your success.
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@jacqvon #1 Test your assumptions. (And #2: ruthless focus.)
мαнεsн кυмαя@iam_maheshkumar · UI/UXdesigner
I work as UI/UX Designer in profession and sometimes as product designer. I have two questions. 1.How can I reach the position from a designer at a mid level company to a product manager at tech giants? 2.What are the key points to make sure for success of product while building it?
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@iam_maheshkumar I've found that many senior designers, seeking greater influence and a broader mandate, move into product management roles. As your design career continues, seek out insight beyond just the realm of design. Dig into the business model, your competition, the tech dependencies. Show your colleagues that your design work takes all of that into account. As you progress you'll find that much of what you do begins to overlap product management which is ultimately the best way to get a new job -- do it first without having the title.
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@jboogie @iam_maheshkumar My guess is you'd want to make a lateral move into product management first--perhaps at your current company, or perhaps at a company willing to give you a shot. Then work your way over to the giant. Of course, the other path would be to get into the giant you're interested in, then orchestrate a lateral move there. In either case, I would find a mentor. Get close with a PM you like and trust. Follow him/her around. Help them out and start doing the job even from your current position. And do what Jeff says--start hanging out beyond the world of design. Go to PM meetup, events, etc.
Cary Feuer@cgfeuer · Snr Product Manager, ADP
From an enterprise perspective, what's an example of an organization that enables agile teams while staying accountable for quarterly and annual deliverables? What are the necessary ingredients for success?
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@cgfeuer Can you clarify your question? I ask because organizations that are truly "agile" aren't held accountable for deliverables. They're held accountable for customer outcomes.
Jeremy Bauer@barnabybones · Writer + Arts Instructional Designer
@jboogie @cgfeuer Love this reframing, by the way.
Cary Feuer@cgfeuer · Snr Product Manager, ADP
@jboogie I guess I'm referring to transitioning out of a mindset of big bang releases and moving toward continuous deployment, and examples of where you've seen larger, more conservative orgs being able to embrace some of the uncertainty on timing that might come with that, and what made it possible for this change to take place in those orgs. Not sure if that's any clearer...
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@cgfeuer We do a lot of work in the financial services industry and we're seeing some good movement there. They've started to transition. The "younger" banks are moving a bit faster than the older ones. They're realizing that to compete in the market they need to continuously optimize their offerings. They're also realizing that technology is the foundation necessary to do this and so the mindset shift begins with the realization that learning happens when we ship. And if we only ship 4 times a year, we only learn 4 times a year. What if we can ship more frequently? When that question gets asked, the shift to increased agility and customer-centricity begins.
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@cgfeuer Once that shift occurs, the measure of success for the teams is key. If you can get the teams to be incentivized with OKR (Objectives and Key Results) then they have the customer front and center in all of their discussions. We've seen this transition start to take hold in big banks like ING and Capital One and smaller, more digitally native (but still big) companies like Paypal.
Danny Tirmizi@danny_tirmizi · Founder : Icarus App
Hi Josh & Jeff, I am the founder of an IOS app called ICARUS ( www.IcarusNow.com) I wanted to know what are the UI / UX trends in the future of the App market and how critical is MeanStack ?
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@danny_tirmizi Hi Danny. I don't have any great (or qualified) answers for you on this question. What I do is explore different categories in the app store for occasional inspiration. There's a lot to be learned from other app categories -- especially ones you may never consider (e.g., I was in an arcade in Tokyo last year and saw game UI and design I'd never seen before. The local kids were all experts at it whereas my daughter and I couldn't even begin to figure it all out.)
Tayler@tayler2412 · Builder, Designer, StudioMinted.com
John Maeda spoke in Wired that "If You Want to Survive in Design, You Better Learn to Code" (Read Full Article here: https://www.wired.com/2017/03/jo... ) -- what is your take on this, and how do you see the future of the "designer"?
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@tayler2412 I spoke to some of that here: http://joshuaseiden.com/blog/201...
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@tayler2412 Here's the short of it: "The world of digital design is big and varied. (And yes, many of us work beyond the web–gasp!) The skill sets required on any one project are too big to live in one body. So… multi-skilled people? Yes. Designers must code? Nope."
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@tayler2412 I believe that, like any maker, a designer needs to know the foundational material in which they are working. For software designers, that means code. You should know how it works, what it can do, how it's manipulated and it's limitations. This will make you a better designer. Does that mean you need to be able to write shippable, bug-free, production-ready code? No.
Tayler@tayler2412 · Builder, Designer, StudioMinted.com
@jboogie @jseiden Thank you both for responding. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to hear a stance based on a non linear approach to this industry. ; )
Asaad Maher@asaad_maher · I'm a developer.
How can I build sense of developing an attractive, nice and user-friendly user interface?
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@asaad_maher for me, it was foundational to read writers who had an opinion on what good user experience was. Don Norman and Alan Cooper were foundational for me. Edward Tufte helped me understand how to relate aesthetics to rational function and clear communication. From there, it was a question of passing my taste through those filters.
Seth Williams@sethbwilliams · Designer, Product Hunt
What does success look like for you?
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@sethbwilliams For me, it's having an impact on company culture -- with the clients that I work with. I'd like to be able to help move them forward so that work is more rewarding and enjoyable for their teams.
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@sethbwilliams I'm really motivated to see teams and organizations putting great stuff into the world. It's ridiculously hard to make great stuff (products, services, books, music, whatever). So if I can help teams do that, I feel very lucky.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Josh and Jeff, thanks for being here today. What's the best piece of advice you've ever receive?
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@ems_hodge The best piece of advice I ever got was to ask for what you want. The idea being that the worst thing that can happen is someone says no. But you won't know until you ask.
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@ems_hodge Make sure you answer the right question. You might have a good answer, but if you misunderstood the question, it's useless. For a product person--what is the customer need? You might have a wizzy technology, but if you don't understand the customer problem, you're going to fail.
Do you think UX designers will be replaced by robots or will the role evolve to design the interactions between humans and AI?
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@aattia There's too much emotion and unpredictable "human nature" to design for it to be outsourced to robots. I don't see that as the future of design. That said, designing the experiences we have with robots, AI, etc is and will continue to be part of our future work.
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@aattia I believe that the best designers understand human needs and synthesize solutions to address those needs. I'm no AI expert, but I don't see that happening via software anytime soon. I still think that people will be needed to establish the frame--so even if machines can generate UI, they need humans to set that context. At least--from my POV, that's what I'll go with for now.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What is your morning routine?
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@jacqvon 1. Gym. 2. Kids lunches/school 3. Breakfast/espresso 4. Email 5. real work (assuming I'm home and not on the road...)
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@jacqvon Woke up, fell out of bed, Dragged a comb across my head Found my way downstairs and drank a cup, And looking up I noticed I was late. Found my coat and grabbed my hat Made the bus in seconds flat Found my way upstairs and had a smoke, Somebody spoke and I went into a dream. :-)
Chad Whitaker@chadwhitaker · Product Designer at Product Hunt 👋
How important is company culture when starting a new business?
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@chadwhitaker Culture is key to the success of any business -- new or old. The benefit of being a new business is you can design the culture you want to have. With a few early employees it's relatively easy to maintain your values and principles. The challenge comes with scale. It's during those high growth periods that doubling down on the culture that got you there is critical. Some companies lose sight of this as they grow. I witnessed this first hand at one of my jobs. The camaraderie and transparency that got us to the hockey stick growth lost to greed and the drive for even more hyper-growth at the expense of collaboration and customer experience. That company ultimately failed.
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@chadwhitaker Culture is everything.
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@jboogie @chadwhitaker The challenge of course is that culture has many latent elements--things going on that are hard to see. And they manifest in unexpected ways.
Jeremy Bauer@barnabybones · Writer + Arts Instructional Designer
I'm an Instructional Designer for a fine and applied arts college at a university. I help professors use tech in their instruction and build online courses. For my job, I have to be able to do light graphic design work, media production, manipulate the tools available in our Learning Management System, talk with other campus leaders about our learning tech and practices, etc. It's a long list of duties. My question is: would this instructional design experience in higher ed allow me to cross into a product management role at a tech company?
Josh Seiden@jseiden · Principal, Neo
@barnabybones The only way to know is to try. See if you can find PM jobs that fit your experience and go for it! I think the odds are good...
Jeff Gothelf@jboogie · Principal
@barnabybones It should. It sounds broad and holistic.
Jeremy Bauer@barnabybones · Writer + Arts Instructional Designer
@jseiden Thanks, I will! I think the "3 - 5 years experience shipping software, preferably in an SaaS environment" part that I see in a lot of PM job postings had me worried.
Jeremy Bauer@barnabybones · Writer + Arts Instructional Designer
@jboogie Phew, okay. Thanks! I think of each course that I design as a standalone product, and so I think that the kind of duties I have (that also include working with our marketing dept. for courses, measuring outcomes after a course run, etc.) are pretty similar to a PM's duties, but wasn't sure if tech companies would see these similarities. I guess it's up to me to explain this in my resume and cover letter, though. Thanks again!