How Would You Beat?

How Would You Beat? Guest Christian Crumlish and “Product Management for UX People” | Jobs-to-be-Done

February 08, 2022 thrv Season 2 Episode 3
How Would You Beat?
How Would You Beat? Guest Christian Crumlish and “Product Management for UX People” | Jobs-to-be-Done
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

 We are really excited to have our guest today, Christian Crumlish. Christian is a veteran of UX and product management, who has led organizations, and been an individual contributor for over 20 years. And here, we're going to talk about Christian’s new book “Product Management for UX People”

👉 Download our JTBD Cheat Sheet for free here: https://welcome.thrv.com/learn-jobs-to-be-done

 Link to Christian’s book: https://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/product-management-for-ux-people/
 
 Key moments from today's topic with Christian Crumlish on UX, Product Managing, and Jobs-to-be-Done:
 
00:00 Introduction to Christian Crumlish and his book “Product Management for UX People 
 
 02:40 Christian talks about what a UX and Product Manager have in common and the challenges when you add product to your UX toolset
 
 09:55 Christian talks about how JTBD has helped him in his UX career
 
 18:30 Christian talks about the problems of data getting in the way of creative for UX in the past, but also the need to use both
 
 29:44 Jay, Jared, and Christian talk about being a Product Manager and the pitfalls that come with that role 
 
 40:30 Christian talks about how customer needs and empathy to your team need to be king over office turf wars

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Jared Ranere  00:00

Hi, we're here with how would you beat and we are really excited to have our guest today named Christian Crumlish. Christian is a veteran of UX and product management, who has led organizations and been an individual contributor over time for over 20 years. And here, we're going to talk about Christians, new book, product management for UX people. I actually, I love that title. It's great. So we're excited talking about Christians book today. And we're gonna ask them some questions about, about what the book is about. And I think that'd be a great place to start. So, so Christian, please, please jump in.


Christian Crumlish  00:39

Sure. Well, the book is like it sounds, it tries to explain product management to people with a UX background, whether they're designers, UX researchers, or people who are trained in other UX disciplines. And I think the need for it has come from the fact that a lot of UX work a lot of work with the web these days, is done in the context of software products, that the model of a product has become kind of a dominant one, maybe taken over from sort of more of a communications design advertising model of what is a website, the idea that a website is it, an object that you interact with, maybe do transactions through or otherwise obtain services through, has brought product thinking to the fore. And for UX people, sometimes it sounds like a new job, that overlaps a lot with the job they do. And somehow it's also their boss. And so some UX people reach a point in their career where this is an obstacle, or at least a thing they need to understand better. And, and some choices they might have going forward is to become a product manager. Or to become more aware of why product managers are there and what they do and therefore, learn to work better with them. And and and to make a case for the aspects of the work that they believe the UX person should do instead. Sometimes it's just a matter of being able to take your UX design or your UX sort of strategy role, and be comfortable framing it as to do with product to be product designed to be product strategy, or to be a key part of that. So just understanding the product context and how the UX experience in the UX skills and career choices map to that.


Jared Ranere  02:27

Yeah, so how do you think about that overlap, like what UX UX role and product management role have in common? And then what the big new challenges are, if you're going to add products to your UX toolset?


Christian Crumlish  02:41

Right, I mean, I think that the overlap is quite large, and can sometimes involve similarities in tasks, although it's it's much more an overlap of concern, and focus and responsibility in the sense that user experience is all about the person who interacts with the software, understanding their needs, understanding how to make things that, that serve them, and appeal to them and get them to engage. And product management is very largely concerned with a consumer or a customer and what that person needs and how enough of them are out there to constitute a market and how to make services for them that meet their needs and bring them back and maybe drive revenue or otherwise sustain the project that you're doing. So I mean, just in the way that I described those two roles, they clearly are very much involved in similar concerns, which is, who are the people out there that were making this code for? What would constitute success for those people? What, you know, what jobs are they looking to hire to be done by software and and so it's like a lot of things on the internet, where I think many disciplines have emerged, or many approaches to making this stuff has has, has come out of earlier practices and has been sort of improvised by just clever polymaths who have lots of different skills. It's settled into different shapes over time, and often they aren't all fully compatible with each other these mental models of what we're doing. And so the so UX can feel kind of usurped sometimes my product because of that overlap, where it's like, why are you now in charge of our relationship with people? I thought that's what I do. And the thing is, I'd say the biggest differences are that the work itself is very different. The product management is not really a design discipline, I mean, it it certainly benefits from if you are smart about design, and design is a critical creative tool for solving problems and for figuring out user experiences. So So it's clearly designed adjacent, but it's it's the day to day work of a product manager typically does not happen in figma or Photoshop or sketch or or in a design piece of software. They look at that stuff, but they're rarely moving the squares around on the screen.


Jared Ranere  04:59

Right That was a that stuck out your book to me that you talked about quite a bit that if you want to move into product management, you better love writing. And that is certainly been true in my career as a product manager. But one of the interesting things is, you know, when you look at the individual, individual contributors, the individual contributor, product management has to write a ton, whether it's a task for developer, a brief spec, an explanation or presentation of why our product is worth doing. And the designer is, you know, creating pictures. But then as both get more senior, they both move away from those. And as I've gotten more senior in my career, and I've worked with more senior designers, we end up talking about very similar things, which is, what does the customer need? What is the job? Why are we building this thing, and the partnership in that those senior roles has been particularly strong. And now as a job suite on consultant. I'm seeing product managers and UX people gravitate to the framework for the same reasons, because it answers the same questions. And has that been your experience in your career as well?


Christian Crumlish  06:09

Well, yeah, but those are the things you said one, that as you move up towards leadership, this this overlap and this adjacency becomes more and more complete, as the details of the task work, start to become less relevant. Ironically, I'd say writing stays in the picture. If you're in leadership, you have to make reports or particular slides or communicate clearly to other executives and your emails and things like that. So. So the writing part of it seems to, to carry on longer than the pixel pushing but but having said that, it definitely becomes less about the craft at a certain point and more about people management and strategy and big picture stuff where literally you sit shoulder to shoulder whether you came up through a design practice or through a product more business oriented, let's say product point of view, you should be having very much the same conversation by the time you're sitting at the leadership table together. The other part of that you said was that? I forgot? There was a second? Yeah. Well,


Jay Haynes  07:07

Christina, one of the things I think you said, so interesting is when it when you start to focus on the people and the teams. You know, at the end of the day, you're trying to create customer value. And it's funny how you can lose focus that just customers are everything I think Peter Drucker actually said this, you know, long time ago, like I think he said most things a long time ago. But he said, you know, the goal of a company of a business is to create a customer. And he's just simply don't exist, that people aren't willing to pay for something. And I think what's fascinating about that is when you get to these people at the company, and the teams, and you're trying to get them to work together be coordinated, at the end of the day, the agreement they need to have, no matter what role you're in, if you're in product management, if you're in UX UI, sales, you know, marketing, executives, finance, the goal is to have agreement on what you're going to do for the customer. I mean, ultimately, that's what a product is, you know, jobs you don't theory, you're hiring to get sure up done. And I find that so fascinating. Because it's such a product, both product management and UX have such interesting histories. I mean, they didn't exist, they weren't, you know, the thing that existed first and then drove business to success. It was almost like businesses were successful, kind of in spite of themselves and then needed a way to figure out, okay, how do we get better at this for right,


Christian Crumlish  08:34

and sometimes maybe to formalize practices that are emerging and say, What is this that we're doing? And is anyone else doing it? Are we making it up? Interesting not to get too far into the history of this stuff. Because I think if we geek out too much, not everybody's into the history of business and things like that. But both UX and product do have a common ancestor in marketing. And I think marketing is often vilified nowadays, not not every obviously lots of great marketing going on. But sometimes it's thought it's framed as a kind of a shallow discipline, you know, just PR and just communications just as if those things are easy to do. But it's so it's easy to forget that in the early 20th century, marketing was sort of like the UX of that period where there were innovative people saying, What if we actually knew what people wanted and crafted products that met their needs? I mean, I could sound silly to us, but it's like, and I think that's a reminder that in a sense, in in business theory, I guess you call it organizational theory. A lot of the ideas come come back every generation in new clothes, and it's partly because of a falling away. You know, like the new idea has become a ritualized, formulaic thing. And the essence of it like the way agile could be, you know, not doing the job anymore, even though you could be supposedly doing all the right agile things, that it's often the excitement is about a refreshing new frame that reminds people he really got to know what that person at the other end of the transaction needs and not just what you tricked him into doing once you know or something like that. By the way, do remember the second part of your question, which was his I think it was his jobs to be done. Have I found it to be a useful frame for that ship for working together in that shared area? And I think yes, I mean, it's I don't think it's the only thing that works that way. But what I think it helps with is it, it moves the conversation a little bit out of the home comfort zone of either of those two disciplines. And it is a real challenge in some shops, getting what I would call product discovery happening in a collaborative way. So having, if they have us UX research, that's great. If they do product management in a way, that's not just ticket filling, but it's actually understanding the needs of an audience that's great to some organizations are doing both of those things in an uncoordinated way. So you're talking to the same people, but with two slightly different questionnaires, or at different times, or you're bugging the same customers, or you're just not coordinating your research, and it could become a turf thing, or it can be literally more like what your questions don't meet my needs. And so I'll just do my own right when it's much better if you can figure out a way to work together and piggyback on each other's work, collaborate on the mental model of what these people are and what they need, and have a shared approach to that. And I found that if you can move things to the jobs to be done kind of way of analyzing these needs and how to meet them, it can kind of be like a little bit fresh for either person, depending on their background, and kind of a shared space that they can develop together.


Jay Haynes  11:21

Yeah, that's a great way to think about it. We say this all the time that if you have a really good understanding of your customers job, essentially their problem, their goal they're trying to achieve. You don't need any innovation theory to explain it at all. It should be in plain English, if you look at the job of getting to a destination on time, or the job of you know, obtaining a blood sample, if it's more detailed, like anybody would knowledge of that any customers should just say, yeah, that's that makes total sense. It says, it's a story, like what do I need to do to achieve this goal?


Christian Crumlish  11:48

Yeah, and I'm a big fan and supporter of design. And I think design is rightfully proud of some of its like, ways of doing things. But I think like any specialized, you know, discipline that hires talent, or something like that, it also can be alienating to people because it can become almost like not a cult, but like a guild like something that you have to be qualified for. And you have to be specialized to do. And what I love about the jobs to be done framework is that it's more of a reminder that, you know, it doesn't take away from design as a great practice and something that you want people who are experts in, but it takes it out, it says it's not merely a matter of design, or even UX to figure out what we're making and who it's for and what problems it solves. It's, it's everybody's job. I used to give a talk, when I wasn't a product manager yet called user experiences everybody's problem, or is everybody's business actually, I used to say, because you really want to work in a shop where there's not just the UX people, and everybody else doesn't care about the user and just wants to make money or write less code or something like that. You want an environment where everybody agrees that we're trying to craft an amazing user experience. And sure we have specialists, some of them are great at code. Some of them are great at interviewing, some of them are paid, synthesizing record meeting people's work. But we should all be on the same page about what did the customer want? What what jobs are, we are essentially trying to get them to hire our software to do anybody in the company should be able to answer that question, not just the the UX people.


Jay Haynes  13:11

Yeah, you know, let me give you a great example that we use a lot on, on how important UX and UI is, but how it has to actually relate to the customer's job, the functional job of trying to get done. And my favorite example, we use this all the time is Craigslist, right? If you want to compete with Craigslist, which I don't think any UX UI person would say, is the pinnacle of, you know, modern UX UI centers literally designed in like 1997. And it looks the same, basically. So but the thing that it does, it gets the functional job of buying and selling stuff done incredibly well. It has market liquidity, because if you go on there and look for a used car, you're likely to find a used car you want, right? And if you want to sell one, you're likely to selling it. So that liquidity is really hard to get right, especially in this kind of two sided markets. So having a great design is not enough in that just demonstrated like, Yes, I'm sure you could have every design in the world come up with a better interface than Correct. Right.


Christian Crumlish  14:11

100%. And I do think probably, you could get into saying that the the UI of Craigslist is is pretty ugly, but the UX is not as bad as it looks in the sense that and relates to why does it get those jobs done? Well, is that actually the flows for looking up that or contacting the seller worked pretty well, you know, they're not fancy, they're not they don't have the latest React code, you know, powering the widget or something like that, but they do the job. And, you know, a janitor's closet has has UX too, you know, even even if it's never going to be, you know, the the reception area experience of your business. And so it does kind of refocus you on functionality. I think when Chelsea Dunn has this nice idea of like, getting the plumbing right, which is not all you ever have to do. And it's not the whole story either. But it's sometimes get skipped right? In the interest of just like, let's just paint a screen that looks like the other screens that are popular today.


Jared Ranere  15:08

Yes, I think that's an a terrific insight about Craigslist, because one of the things you think about is, a lot of people just think Craigslist is their inbox, right? Their email, you post a listing and the rest of your experience, the Craigslist happens in your email. And so


Christian Crumlish  15:23

you exit is not about screen design in a web browser that does involve a service model of what's the person's experience, like throughout the experience? And I mean, right, I mean, I, I wrote about Craigslist, in an earlier book, called the power of money that I wrote back in the mid 2000s. And I interviewed Craig, a bunch for it. Oh, great. And, yeah, he wasn't the only topic, but it was one of the ones and the thing that stuck with me. And it's not a secret, because he'll tell anybody who asks, is it the main engine of success was that he was the chief customer, customer support person, you know, he never made himself CEO. He answered user feedback all day long. And just by paying attention to that, I mean, and that's, you know, that's not the silver bullet for everything. But it's often an under explored channel of understanding in much larger businesses. It kind of sells that point that lots of people said, you need a fancier logo, and you need better menus and things like that. But he didn't hear anybody asking for that in his like support inbox, you know? So,


Jay Haynes  16:26

so my car, yeah. So they


Christian Crumlish  16:29

stuck with what works. And they kept doing that job. And they kept getting hired to do that job.


Jared Ranere  16:33

Yeah. And I've always been impressed by it by UX designers who note that right? That the, the user experience is not just the picture on the screen, it's everything that your user or customer has to go through in order to achieve whatever their goal is right happen all over the place.


Christian Crumlish  16:50

Yeah, I mean, if your website actually has a success metric of visitors, right, you might miss the value of letting your customer complete the transaction in their email inbox, you might say, well just send them an email, and they have to click through to finish. And then I'll get more credit for clicks on my page. Well, and well, it just made it much allows your experience.


Jay Haynes  17:09

Yeah, and it to point this out to people. The Of course, the the biggest example, that in history is Yahoo versus Google. Yahoo, wanted to keep you on the site going to a portal, right? And Google just said, we're going to instantly get you the answer you're looking for as fast as possible. And this is why we always work with teams, you know, work on speed and accuracy. All this stuff can be measured, if you know what you're measuring for. If you think the job is, you know, stay on my portal, which is not something people want in the world, right? Then you're going to miss, you're gonna think like, we're doing a great job, because we're keeping going a portal, when the job is to find information, then you're going to measure speed and accuracy. And, you know, remember Google, even with their fast search for ball results, added the unfeeling lucky, which, which I thought was such an interesting way to phrase it, because it should have said, you trust our accuracy is basically that bug was saying is you're like, I don't even need to see all the listings, I just want the top result and you can go right, you don't even have to see the listings, then go there. You just go right to the results. Right. And there's, there's not another company that I can think of that took a search approach like that. And of course, they're now you know, multitrillion dollar company and Yahoo has pretty much yeah,


Jared Ranere  18:24

that actually reminds me of a project that Kristian and I worked on together at AOL many years ago at this point. And our goals were usage metrics. And there wasn't much beyond that. And it became very hard to figure out what was a great idea and what wasn't a great idea. And I, you know, in your book, Christian, you cover, you know, data and metrics and the business side of things and how that interests the pm world, and how UX people tend to think about that, and some of the trepidation around that. So I'd love to hear a little bit of vibration on that, because I thought that was super interesting.


Christian Crumlish  19:07

Yeah, I mean, I think UX people have both, probably a reasonable well grounded fear, sometimes of the way data is used. Against design, you might say, as well as probably some less well grounded phobias that are more cultural or temperamental, so not to stereotype anybody, but designers are often Humanities and Arts oriented people and are not always math, happy people, people who love numbers or love data. And sometimes they're not into writing either. Yes. It's really about visuals and pictures. And that's what they respond to. And that's where their heart lies. That UX obviously extends much beyond visual design. So these are stereotypes but I'm just saying that there's a data has crept into UX more slowly than into Other parts of the business, let's say and has been resisted. And there have been some horror stories out there, you probably remember a number of years back, a designer quitting Google and complaining that they tested 43 different shades of blue for a button, you know, and then zeroed in on the one that won the the multivariate test. And there's nothing wrong, of course, with having the nicest flu that gets the most clicks, but it was sort of presented as in, you know, and then they clicked like that no design decision could be made without a data argument, and that everything was reduced to like marginal improvements of one choice over the other, which eventually moves you away from the design process entirely. Because design is not done in this kind of like going down one tree to optimize one sub thing all the time. It's a start discipline. So so there's a culture clash there potentially. But I think some of that's also, you know, reductive, and I believe any UX designer worth their salt wants as much information as possible about the problem about the users about the action about how things are actually working right now. I mean, most design is remodels, right? I mean, you're rarely launching a new site or launching a new feature product from scratch. And a lot of that goes on, but much more of the work is the ongoing improvement, maintenance care and feeding of stuff you have out there in the field already. So long before I became a product manager, as a as a UX person, I was pretty interested in the traffic, the the behavioral data, the insights into the experiments that we were doing. But I still didn't find it a little bit alien. And in, you know, I wasn't a stats, I hadn't done a lot of stats training or anything like that. And only when I became a product manager, where it was part of my job, and I had mentorship and people teaching me things that we used to have to do by hand in spreadsheets, and that you now mostly can use nice packages to do. And, but to me, it always was like I was always been hungry for that, unfortunately, temperamentally, I'm a little bit of a geek, I do like numbers, they don't scare me. And I like patterns. And you can kind of, I believe a certain kind of product manager, and probably even certain UX people who are very data tuned in, you can kind of like, steep yourself in the data every day. And after a while, you start to have a feel for it. Like if you go swimming in the ocean every day, and you're like, Oh, it's a little rough today. You know, like the, you notice when the numbers are choppier, or like, something's, something's swelling, or there's a weird depression in it, or something's way off, these numbers usually are closer to each other. And that gives you this kind of sixth sense that I think is great to cultivate. If you're purely a UX designer, I think it's probably more about being open to, to data being part of the the ingredients, you know, that go into to solving the problem. There is this, I'm I really don't like the term data driven, I think it gives the wrong, you know, in the desire to get data into the picture. There's this sort of like leadership framework going to be data driven from now on, but it gives data more agency than it really has, right? I mean, data is just like, looking out the window or looking through the microscope, it doesn't drive. But once you can see the road, you can you can drive better,


Jared Ranere  22:58

right? It's more data informed. That's how I like to say,


Christian Crumlish  23:01

yeah, exactly. And I think it is important to say, don't be data, Ingrid, don't don't collect data and not look at it and not use it or else. You know, that's that's, that's the worst.


Jay Haynes  23:11

Yeah, one of the things I love about the book is, at the end of day, it is about creating customer value. And, you know, there's different ways you say that throughout the book, which I think is, is really nice. And that, instead of thinking in terms of data driven, that customer value, I wish we would adopt, you know, everybody was adopted, the term empathy driven, because data is really just an input so that you can really empathize with your customers struggle. And that's what I think so interesting is that having a bridge these worlds of product management and UX is is this idea that you are empathizing with someone who's going to use your product, you know, and, and we try and include, you know, what's known as emotional jobs as well, in all of our analysis, because, and the way that we think about this, in most having analyzed, you know, hundreds and hundreds of jobs, that if you look at them, people are in a state of anxiety, they're worried about something, I mean, it doesn't matter if you're a parent, if you're a driver, if you're a cardiovascular surgeon, if you're a CFO, you know, whatever people do in their lives, there's a state of anxiety. And part of the beauty of really wonderful UX is it makes you feel confident, you know, effectively that you're getting the job done. Right. And yeah, I think that I mean, that if the if, if, if that customer value, which is in your book, you know, could be expressed in any way it would be moving from anxiety to confidence.


Christian Crumlish  24:40

That's a really interesting insight. And I do think it gets overlooked a lot and for understandable reasons, because it's like it's easier to focus on the pure plumbing and the material kind of like does does the right data appear on the screen at the right place kind of stuff and miss the that human and emotional quality to these experiences, and also to the problems people have today. Like you So you can sometimes make something work faster and more efficient. But you can also make it more reliable. Like, what was that thing on the screen, and then now it's going like, wow, you know, like you can, you can avoid making people feel lost. And you can hold their hand sort of through experiences. And be aware of, I mean, I talked to a company, once that was doing working on a self driving car, that was more of a taxi model, like a car that dries up, and you get in it, and it drives you somewhere. And they approached me because I had experience with a mental health project. And I worked for a number of years, and because they were really interested in the experience of it, and what they were finding from their user research was that people had this initial excitement about getting in the car and being driven somewhere. But then they felt kind of let down and depressed a little bit. And what they were starting to discern was that people felt they were losing their agency, they weren't needed to drive the car anymore. And while on the one hand, you're like, I'm like a Porsche being carried, you know, on a litter to where I need to go, this is like the lap of luxury, there was kind of that weird human thing of like, oh, the world doesn't need me to drive cars anymore, like, you know, like, I've been demoted or something in the backseat now. And just to realize that they they were going to, they needed to address that emotional experience of being given a lift by a robot basically, as every bit as much as making sure it goes to the right address, or it shows up in time, it doesn't crash and all those other things.


Jay Haynes  26:23

Yeah, that's great, that I think that's so important. And there's so much more interesting research lately on emotions and how they actually work. And I think that stuff, you know, we've talked about it before here, but it's, it's really fascinating. And, and their jobs, you know, you can think of emotional goals that people have in the same way, like, what is what is making that go off track? Like, what can I do to make sure that I'm feeling positive emotions. And, you know, you can see this, even in simple forms with great companies like Apple, I mean, I can't tell you, I have four children. So the number of times I have to open a product for my child where I literally need like, a pliers, and a knife and a pair of scissors. And like two people helping me to get this thing open, because it's, you know, impenetrable plastic. And apples gone that extra way to now even in the UPS package, they have that little, you know, little starter Ripper, you don't need a pair of scissors, you know, Amazon packages, you got to like, rip off your hands, or, you know, slice it open and cut the thing up, you know, whatever, apples got that little starter, you just pull the little thread and it just opens nicely. And all their packaging, it's so it's such a small, beautiful thing. But if I'm sure if you were just an executive focused on cost, you'd be like, Oh, that couldn't be more expensive. We're not doing that. Right. But if you're empathizing with your customer has to like go to their busy day. Everybody's getting packages now. Like we live in packages, and Amazon and and if you go that extra, that extra little bit, like really helps just get interior customer to you forever.


Christian Crumlish  28:03

Yeah, I mean, one of my most favorite kind of counterintuitive, I think, experience design stories, which has nothing to do with the web and is not what you naturally would expect, as a solution was, I think, when the Denver Airport opened up, they had an issue where it was very easy for people arriving from flights to get very quickly to the carousel. And there was an inherent about 15 minute delay and getting all the bags off and then the stuff carted over and then loaded up on the carousel and then coming through. And there was just that they couldn't make that much fast. I mean, it's just takes a little time to do that. And the solution, ultimately, that they came up with, was to create a more roundabout route to the carousel that took longer to get there, which you would think like, well, well, you're just wasting people's time, but the time was going to be wasted anyway. And what they did was they thought about the experience. And they felt, you know, they ultimately decided and it did work, I believe that you know, the that experience, they just had less of that waiting, once you got to the carousel was ultimately going to be perceived as less anxiety provoking and less annoying. And you'd never think that but there are software equivalents that where you kind of buffer or throttle things. And even though you could do them faster to make them more humane or to avoid creating those like disjunctions between the different experiences.


Jay Haynes  29:23

Yeah, yeah, I think that's great. I mean, you can think of, even with, you know, streaming services, like they could just instantaneously pop up all new songs for you, but they also tell you what's upcoming, you know, so you can kind of reduce your anxiety that, you know, they're gonna they're gonna play some horrible song for you in the next, you know, five minutes.


Christian Crumlish  29:40

Yeah, that's a great example.


Jared Ranere  29:42

Yeah, yeah. One thing you mentioned a minute ago, Jay was, you know, an executive telling you, that's going to cost more if we have that experience, which reminded me of, I think, my favorite line in your book Christian, which is, as a product manager, you don't necessarily own the p&l situation, but it sure can own you What did you mean by that recline?


Christian Crumlish  30:04

Well, I mean, I think it goes back a little bit to there's a, there's a cliche in the world of product management, which is that the product manager is the CEO of the product. And it's sort of a well meaning, like a lot of those kinds of aphorisms, it was trying to capture or communicate an idea that there is this person who has something like a, like a business and operational responsibility, that they that they, everything rolls up to them, and then they're going to be held responsible for what happens in the way that things roll up to a CEO. But the problem is, it's kind of a facile comparison and glosses over some of the real differences between an actual CEO who who can hire and fire and who has final say, on pretty much everything. And product managers, who usually manage teams that do not report to them directly, do not have hiring and firing control, and often do not have real p&l responsibility, they often have a general manager or some other person in a business role, who actually determines the budget for the department and how many people can be hired. And that doesn't mean you're not part of that conversation and good product lead is in a conversation with their boss about who knew what roles they need to fill in the next quarter and next year, etc. But, but they don't own that decision. And so there's, and then we talked about the p&l on say, like a line of products, where, where you, again, you're not necessarily the person going to the meeting with the CEO, and justifying why your line of business didn't make as much money last quarter, as you said it would or something like that. But But product people live in that business world, they they touch the money in a way that UX people often don't you know, and we've talked about the beginning of the talk about how a lot of the substantial differences between product management roles and UX roles are the day to day tasks and the actual the craft of the job. But you hinted that they didn't really fully address that they aren't 100% congruent, they do you know that there's more, there's design oriented work that happens that UX people do that product managers don't touch at all. And there's a sort of more business oriented focus and product management, that that's very strong in its origin. And always there in some way. That some UX people in leadership, certainly as you get into leadership, it comes down to the table, but frequently are almost fully exempt from caring about, you know, they're like, I'm the voice of the customer, I don't care what it costs, you know, we have to do it this way. And it's kind of good and refreshing sometimes, to have that voice that doesn't censor itself and says, you know, if money is no object, I would like this. And you say, Well, okay, we'll take that into account, their product manager doesn't get to do that, right has to have to know the cost of things has to know the potential value of what you know, the monetary value that can be reaped from something, and has to make sure that I mean, either that the thing they're working on can sustain itself, or if it's in, you know, it's reached end of life, they have to know that make the case for that and shut the product down. So you definitely live inside a world where the profit and loss on that product is governing, you know, it's structurally constraining everything you do. And yet, you're rarely the person who is going to really be in charge of setting those targets or those final decisions.


Jared Ranere  33:15

Yeah, one of the things that made me think of is you're accountable for everything and everyone but in control of very little and no one. And no, i i There's two things that I made me think of was one time, you know, I had a CEO, come tell me in no uncertain terms, if this product doesn't grow 7x In the next year, very unnatural things will happen. And you can see that in the career patterns, I think of some PMS where they spend eight months to a year at a place. And maybe it's not explicit, but that's about how long it takes to really launch a roadmap. So you come in, you have your influence on you release what was in your backlog, you have influence on the next roadmap, and then you release it. And then if it doesn't succeed, somehow you find yourself in another company. And nobody tells you that it's because your roadmap failed. But that's likely why. And so, you know, you're not in control of that. And you're not, you know, being always told that you're being measured on that. But it's there like it's success or move on.


Christian Crumlish  34:25

Right, and I found that product, especially if you're working with the CEO. So if you're in a small organ, if you're either in leadership or your organization without a lot of product managers, or you're the first product manager, then you're probably working with the CEO, because if it was a startup, the founder, the CEO was probably the product founder and not the engineering founder, you know, they're probably the person who had the idea or has the vision and you're going to be taking their baby out of their hands, which is very scary for them. And it's very easy to disappoint them and I sometimes feel like the product managers role eventually is to be the sin eater you know, it's like to take on the plane and be the scapegoat. And then the CEO, you know, can like get a new product person and, and move forward and not notice why it keeps happening over and over again. The I have worked with at least one CEO, who was not mathematically said, you know, and so sometimes to work on growth issues was tricky, because we would eke out a benefit. And he would expect it to compound, you know, it's like, well, that's gonna just keep doubling, right? And I'm like, No, that was a one time doubling, like, now we have both sexes, we're not gonna get four sexes Next, Next, use the product like that. Not to say there's only two sexes. And I'm just saying, like, you know, that it was just like a thing of like, no, that's arithmetic, that's not geometric. But a person who just wants wants the numbers to go up and wants to believe that this latest thing is going to be the game changer. It expectations,


Jay Haynes  35:52

this this idea of the CEOs, product manager, but then there's tension with the actual CEO, and then where's UX? You know,


Christian Crumlish  36:00

its CEO is the product manager of the product.


Jay Haynes  36:04

Yeah, right. Well, what's so interesting is the ultimate CEO is is the customer. And that's what's so interesting, who's writing


Christian Crumlish  36:13

the code, but they're hiring


Jay Haynes  36:15

and firing you and I can't you know, that's so true. I have a Walkman until I fired them to hire Apple to give me an iPod. I mean,


Christian Crumlish  36:23

if you've ever started your own business, or, or been a CEO, or something different, you realize that you've not reached the point where now you're your own boss, right? The board customer support, ultimately, the customer is, you know, it's like if they stopped buying your product, you're fired. It doesn't matter that that there's no one to fire you.


Jay Haynes  36:39

Yeah. And it's so interesting. If you go back in history, and you look at some examples of teams that were clearly going through this. So imagine, you know, you're on a team, the company called BlackBerry around 2007. Right, or you're on the team that's building the Microsoft Zune and thinking that they're going to compete with the iPod, right. And those that is such a good example of where it's so important for product management and UX to be coordinated and coordinated around this. Because if you're on the team at Blackberry, and you're designing the next version of the UX for a keyboard based mobile device, it doesn't matter at all. You're you're literally going to effectively zero as a company, and people forget, you know, Blackberry was worth more than apple at the time. Oh, yeah. Seems crazy. And Apple had no telecommunications experience, right? So it's one of those examples to where you can, you can see like through your book, how, at the end of the day, this is about customer value, again, you know, this is great. It's, I think, at least my reading, there's also a theme of this coordination around product and UX that does get back to the customer. And how beneficial something like your book would have been to a team at Blackberry working to say, okay, is this iPhone thing, just a toy? Remember, Steve Ballmer was very dismissive. Yeah, remember that? Who's gonna pay $6 for a phone?


38:06

I think you're right, isn't it?


Jay Haynes  38:08

Is it a real threat? Or what should you do? You know, that is, it could really help you coordinate around that.


Christian Crumlish  38:13

I think what's interesting is that this product and UX overlap, it sometimes has come up as an issue, it's a science, it's a turf issue, right? Or, like, I'm in charge of this not you, or I'm the boss of this, or why are you telling me what to do. And I have this community called Designing product, and it's a lot of people who are on that cusp or that spectrum somewhere trying to figure out their relationship with the work and the people they work with. And, and so there there are like, sometimes, how do you solve this problem? How do you how do you overcome this person who doesn't value what you do? Or my company? Why do I report to product manager and I should be appear like that, those are sometimes the issues but I really feel like that, to get all the way through that. There's this real strong potential to unlock like, like two of the major, you know, kind of contributors to these, to this work that we do, both pulling in that same direction towards the customer, the user, the human being that you know, the in the system, who's who's trying to get something done, or trying to meet a need or trying to solve a problem. And it's almost like if we can, if you can work out the sibling rivalry, you can, like, speak with one voice, you know, which is super powerful.


Jay Haynes  39:18

You know, it's funny, I think we're gonna have to buy your your book in bulk, because it now makes you just discussion makes me realize, when we when we do a kickoff with teams who are just in, you know, job, CDOT, they're like, oh, that can help our teams. They always ask, you know, who should be in the first workshop, whatever we do with them, who should be in it, and we tell them literally everybody, product marketing and sales, and in product that includes, you know, product managers, designers, UX UI, developers, engineers, you know, all that because the idea is, you know, if you're going to have all these turf wars, if you're gonna have these debates will, what do you what do you have them about and If and if it is about your product, independent of your customer, you're probably in trouble anyway. Right? Because if you're just, you know, thinking you're having turf wars, because someone wants, you know, a different type of keyboard on your keyboard device,


Christian Crumlish  40:14

right rearranging, rearranging the chairs on the Titanic, right? Yeah,


Jay Haynes  40:18

exactly. So, you know, your book is A, it's essentially a call not to call to arms, but a call to collaboration that, you know, is is a better way to solve these problems than going back to the politics and the turf wars and egos and all that.


Christian Crumlish  40:37

Yeah. And I just think it's funny because I, you know, we, we are very focused on the end user, the customer, the person paying, paying our keeping our lights on and everything, and rightfully so. But I often find myself discussing with product and UX people who are trying to, to do better work, that there is closer at home, there's another customer, and that's like your coworker or your colleague or the person in the adjacent discipline or in sales or in some other like that. Often there's the turf can also, it's not always about fighting over who's in charge of what sometimes it's really just about not valuing the, the role that the other disciplines play in what you're doing. And I challenge UX people and product people who who want to be the empathy, people who want to put empathy at the center, you know, to have that empathy as well, for that sales person who promised a feature you don't want to give. But But like, why aren't you understanding what put them in a position that led them to do that and, and meeting their needs just as much as you're trying to meet the needs of the end user. And I realized that's, that's oversimplifying sometimes, and there are really intractable situations. But I think rather than retreating into our own camps, like our comfort zones of like the team were on, you know, and the conferences we go to, or something like that. And instead, like using that same problem solving, you know, that the jobs to be ultimate I, again, I don't want to take away from the importance of focusing ultimately on the result, and the person who, whose needs your meeting outside of the organization that justifies its existence. But I also know that if you don't have that kind of alignment, internally, it's going to show right it's the disconnects in communication and in priorities are going to come out in weird seems in the product and awkward misalignments, and things like that. So there is this almost like inner, it's almost like in your personal life, on some level, you have to work internally in yourself, you can't just help other people or be great at a job, you have to like, be perfecting yourself on some level, or at least having something you're always trying to work on. And I feel like similarly, in team dynamics, company dynamics have a lot of that as well, where it's like, take that same empathy, you have take that same fascination about what are people struggling with? And what are they afraid of, and what would help them be really successful. And turn it on the people who are like, even closer in with you that you're happy that you think are annoying and like wish you didn't have to work with them and things like that. Because if you unlock that stuff, I think that just puts you in a much better position to work with them to do the actual, you know, the actual job of meeting a fresh need of this, you know that that next customer comes in the door tomorrow?


Jared Ranere  43:16

Yeah, I think that's fantastic advice to wrap up on. And to read more of Christians advice, you can check out Product Management for UX people. Where can we find this book? And when can we find the Christian?


Christian Crumlish  43:29

Starting February one, you can go straight to my publisher site, which is Rosenfeld media.com and order it directly from them. And I think as of March 3, you can order it on anywhere on the planet, you know, when you normally order books, interestingly enough, we got into a little bit of the famous supply chain issues that are going on all over the world right now. And the paper the high quality paper that we use for the for color book is in is in demand and actually pushed back the inventory date by


Jared Ranere  43:58

Wow. Wow, unbelievable.


Jay Haynes  44:01

Well, congrats again, on the book. Thanks really excited. It's a great book, highly recommend it to anybody. Thanks


Christian Crumlish  44:07

very much. Appreciate that. Great talking to you guys.


Jared Ranere  44:10

You too, for sure.


44:11
Thanks.

Introduction to Christian Crumlish and his book “Product Management for UX People
Christian talks about what a UX and Product Manager have in common and the challenges when you add product to your UX toolset
Christian talks about how JTBD has helped him in his UX career
Christian talks about the problems of data getting in the way of creative for UX in the past, but also the need to use both
Jay, Jared, and Christian talk about being a Product Manager and the pitfalls that come with that role
Christian talks about how customer needs and empathy to your team need to be king over office turf wars