The People Part of Product
As a Co-founder and President of The Design Gym, Jason Wisdom has spent the last 8 years of his career coaching leaders and designing experiences that support greater human understanding. From redesigning global sales processes to focus on trust building, to pushing mental health into product roadmapping, Jason lives to connect the dots between supporting social needs and driving business metrics.
He recently spoke at a Product That Count hosted webinar and discussed the questions, rituals, and behavioral norms we can put in place to make navigating people challenges a bit easier.
In this webinar, we dig into the various types of interactions and strategies that can help you improve on the people part of product. Jason admitted that many of the lessons he’d learned for managing the people part of product came from Pixar movies and therapy.
On why the people part of product is even more important in difficult times
Right now, we’re all facing a global pandemic. However, there will always be challenges we’ll face, and focusing on the people part of product will be important during those times.
“The conversations that I’ve been having with peers and friends and with colleagues where there’s a lot of things that are changing right now. And I’m not finding it to be like the technical aspects of the ways in which we’re building products. It seems to be much more on the human side of all of this.
So, how are we working and working through, you know, the feelings of isolation and these sorts of moments? I think all of us are on edge, at moments teetering on a bit of depression, if we’re going to be honest about it. And trying to figure out, how do we show up as our best selves for ourselves? Let alone, how we actually do that for each other?”
It all starts with YOU
When it comes to the people part of product, the first person to consider is yourself.
“Over the past two to three years, I’ve invested a ton of time in figuring out how do I become more comfortable and more open in telling my stories, both internally and externally. As we’re looking for ways in which we can engage with other people emotionally, if we haven’t done the work ourselves, and if we haven’t figured out our own baggage and our own things that we’re struggling with, and coming to a place to be able to acknowledge that work, then the rest of it is frickin impossible.”
Leadership Needs to Be a Part of the Process
For Jason and his business partner, the dialogue needed to start at the top with them.
“It was standing meeting on Monday mornings and called it Uncomfortable Conversations. And it was an hour between the two of us. It started off with us both just rolling in with our list of all this shit and all of the reasons why the other person had wronged us over the course of the last week and how they jumped in on our call right as we’re about to say something ingenious and completely ruin the wrong things.
It’s this idea of just coming in with a list of grievances and just being able to share this. And it created a space where, honestly, for some ridiculous reason, we’re both excited to roll into this meeting. It was something that kind of gave us both joy, in part, because I think we were excited by the insight. After getting past the idea of feeling offended and feeling slightly hurt, we came to realize that there was a hell of a lot of learnings that started to happen.”
Know What Your People Are Interested In
When it comes to the people part of product, great product leaders remember to focus on the personal side of your employees and not just the professional one.
“When people know you’re willing to listen, they don’t need to shout to be heard. And I think that that’s something that we’ve really proactively done a good job of focusing on.
Growth plans actually don’t just have to do with people’s roles and what they want specifically to be able to do their jobs better. It has to do with their entire perspective surrounding the rest of their life, and all the things that they’re hoping to and looking to achieve.”