As designers and innovators, we sometimes find ourselves living in the depths of our products, focusing on the most intricate levels of impartial data. Of course, it’s important to remember who that data represents, what value it brings, and the difficulties that can arise within team coordination. As a welcome shift, Elyse brought the finer elements of product management to building frameworks. Starting it off, she explained to the audience why empathy for the complexity of design is important.

On product complexity and empathy as a problem-solving mechanism

“Have empathy for the complexity of engineering, as well as empathy for the users, and make sure that’s a constant reminder.”

“Be genuinely curious and understand the context. Make sure to look at the solutions beyond the surface, and you can do that through building empathy.”

“Questions like ‘when are we going to be finished’ and ‘how much time is left’ create a certain pressure that is missing a layer of understanding. It doesn’t mean time is completely irrelevant. The point, however, is to really dig into the complexity and find creative alternatives, rather than speeding up the time.”

On defining value as a framework for decision and design.

Next, Elyse tapped into the importance of defining value in design elements. She reminded the audience that user experience is built from the goal of solving user pain points. For instance, color can aid in user accessibility issues, providing further value to the customer. Of course, everything comes with a tradeoff, and using empathy in frameworks to find balance is critical to great design.

“The premise behind great product is making sure that you’re building something that is valuable while solving a user problem underneath. Always try to ask ‘what value does this have’, or ‘what value is this providing’. The challenge lies in the answer.”

“If you’re trying to optimize your release pipeline, then the end goal is to release your product faster, and deliver that value to your customers sooner so that they can benefit from it.”

“Of course, make sure to know your trade-offs. If you think you can have it all there might be something behind the scene that is off. Again, dig into the complexity and try to find the balance. Where there is a trade-off, know where to invest later. This will help you maximize overall gain.”

About the speaker
Elyse Clement Rakuten Kobo, Director of Product Management Member

Elyse has developed her passion for product management by finding creative ways to solve problems through technology in various businesses to launch a Quebec retailer's first eCommerce experience, building user experiences in the global fashion space of BCBGMAXAZRIA in Los Angeles, growing the product craft on the agency side of Tribalscale through large scale product innovation, leading product and design teams, and enterprise digital transformation in Toronto, Boston and Dubai. Elyse is now taking these experiences into the digital reading world of Rakuten Kobo, where she is currently the Director of Product Management.