Do you believe in the dichotomy between utility and delight?
In episode 10 of the 2022 Product Awards series, we learn why that dichotomy may be false. Here, Wayfair Product Leader Nacho Andrade speaks with Pendo SVP of New Products Tatyana Mamut. They discuss why great company culture at Pendo starts with having a transparent culture. Tatyana explains her biggest product pet peeve. And why PMs often should consider giving their product teams the same attention as their product customers.
Subscribe to the Product Talk podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts and catch every conversation with leading product executives. New episodes go live every week. Episodes in the Product Awards Series drop on Fridays.
On having a transparent culture
To begin with, great products start with the company culture. Generally, that means having a good level of communication. Most important is being able to disagree.
“We are a very, very direct and transparent culture. That helps when you’re all looking at the same data, right? Because at least you’re starting from the same foundation. And we argue out in the open. We are very, very comfortable with being challenged as leaders. We love it when more junior people challenge us as well.
“Almost all the executives, at Pendo, write a user manual. So that people feel comfortable knowing us as people, and how to basically operate with us. Because in some organizations, I hear, there’s a lot more politics. You have to pre-meet before you do the meeting. Or you have to make sure the main stakeholders are on board before you get into the meeting. What I like to do, and then a lot of our user manuals, it’s very clear to everybody that you don’t need to do that with the executives. Let’s argue it out, get to the best solution together in the meeting. That’s why we have meetings.
“We really encourage a marketplace of ideas. And of course, we have lots of food, and lots of celebrations, and lots of fun activities to make sure that we’re all friends afterwards. Even when the discussions get really heated. That directness, transparency, and openness to being challenged, at every level, is key to building a great product and a great company.”
On the false dichotomy between utility and delight
For the most part, product managers often think about utility and delight as separate entities. Is a product primarily useful, or is it primarily delightful? On the contrary, Tatyana thinks that juxtaposition is false.
“There is no difference between utility and delight. That entire dichotomy is untrue. Let me tell you why. There is utility to delight. If there isn’t utility to delight, why delight? This is the whole Google Maps question. Like, ‘Ooh, we changed the colors on Google maps because they’re prettier.’ Okay? But if that actually creates friction, and less utility in the application, does that matter?
“A TV show has zero utility unless it’s delightful. That entire dichotomy makes no sense. You have to understand the job that you’re doing. The job of a TV show is to entertain and delight. That’s both utility and delight. The job of a great maps app is to get you to the place you want to go with the least friction. That’s both utility and delight.
“Delight should be utility, depending on the job to be done. And utility should be delightful, depending on the job to be done.”
On PMs improving team experiences through software
“One of the things that we as product managers need to consider is not just how we are using software to improve the experiences of our customers, but also of our teams. This is an incredible moment … to reconsider how we work and how we support our employees.
“The same skills that we have as product managers to improve the experiences of our customers. Are we actually using those same skills to improve the experiences of our employees and our teams? How do we actually support them in a digital workplace environment? How do we help them understand what they should be doing directly in the application?
“Are you sending lots of Slack messages and emails? Does anybody like getting lots of Slack messages and emails bombarded at them all the time? Are we meeting people where they are? Or looking at where they have friction? Are we getting feedback on which applications are working for them? And which ones aren’t?
“Are we doing NPS scoring? If you’ve just introduced a new tool in your organization, or if you’ve got five different project management tools in your organization, are you doing NPS scoring to see which one people like more? How are we actually using this moment, as leaders in our companies and as team leaders, to apply the same product management skills that we did for customers, to our own internal teams and our employees?”