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The Pragmatic Product Professional

Laura Van Doore
October 31, 2019

The Pragmatic Product Professional

In 1999 a now infamous book called The Pragmatic Programmer was first published, and the mindset it introduced took the software development world by storm. After 20 years, a flick through the pages shows it’s filled with timeless advice that, with a little bit of examination and re-interpretation, can help anyone nurture a pragmatic product mindset.

Pragmatic product people are early adopters & fast adapters. They are inquisitive, critical thinkers and Realistic. The quintessential Jack-of-all-trades.We’ll explore the essential traits of a pragmatic product person, re-interpret the practical learnings from the book into a modern product context, discover many insightful parables along the way, and learn how we can approach all angles of modern product development with a pragmatic mindset to improve the way we work with our teams to build amazing products.

This presentation will be an enjoyable & compelling journey on how software programming techniques that were written 20 years ago, can be seamlessly applied to modern product design practices in organisations today.

Laura Van Doore

October 31, 2019
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  1. The Pragmatic Product
    @lauravandoore
    Laura Van Doore
    Head of Product Design, Fathom

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  2. How could a book about programming
    written 2 decades ago be applicable to
    modern product development?
    @lauravandoore

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  3. Building Products in 2019

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  4. Solving problems in a sensible way that suits the
    conditions that really exist now, rather than obeying
    fixed ideas, theories or rules.
    Pragmatic
    Adjective
    @lauravandoore

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  5. Otherwise we end up with
    products like this:
    @lauravandoore

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  6. What makes a
    pragmatic product person?
    @lauravandoore

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  7. They think beyond the immediate problem
    and place it in a larger context
    Trait #1
    BIG PICTURE THINKER
    @lauravandoore

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  8. They work with the chess pieces that are on
    the board, rather than the resources they
    wish they had
    Trait #2
    DEEPLY REALISTIC
    @lauravandoore

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  9. They constantly re-evaluate and question
    current methods, approach & practices
    Trait #3
    INQUISITIVE
    @lauravandoore

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  10. They deeply care about their craft, and
    actively invest in new skill development
    Trait #4
    SKILLED CRAFTSPERSON
    @lauravandoore

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  11. They make informed decisions and
    intelligent compromises
    Trait #5
    SCIENTIFIC MINDSET
    @lauravandoore

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  12. Big picture thinker Realistic Inquisitive
    Skilled Craftsperson Test & Learn Mindset
    Pragmatic Product Mindset Traits
    @lauravandoore

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  13. Cultivating a
    Pragmatic Product Mindset
    @lauravandoore

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  14. Speak more than one language
    1

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  15. Learn as many programming
    languages as possible
    In 1999
    @lauravandoore

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  16. The limits of languages influence
    how you think about a problem
    The Pragmatic Programmer
    @lauravandoore

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  17. Building product is a team sport
    With many roles and players
    In 2019
    @lauravandoore

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  18. Learning the languages of your
    teammates is a super power
    @lauravandoore

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  19. SPEAK MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE
    ● Customers
    ● Engineering
    ● Product Management
    ● Design & UX
    ● Business
    @lauravandoore

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  20. Shared language and skill overlap
    breaks down barriers
    @lauravandoore

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  21. Be a catalyst
    2
    @lauravandoore

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  22. A chemical substance that can be added to a
    reaction to increase the reaction rate without
    getting consumed in the process
    Catalyst
    Noun
    @lauravandoore

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  23. Be a catalyst
    Imagine this scenario:
    ● You have a really clear picture on how to make positive change
    ● You've got a great grasp on the resources you'll need, and how
    to bring it all together.
    ● It’s a slam dunk
    @lauravandoore

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  24. Be a catalyst
    ● But when asking for permission to get started, you’re met with
    delays and blank stares
    ● People form committees
    ● Budgets need approvals
    ● Everyone starts to guards their resources
    @lauravandoore

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  25. STORY TIME
    Stone Soup
    @lauravandoore

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  26. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

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  27. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

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  28. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

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  29. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

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  30. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

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  31. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

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  32. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

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  33. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

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  34. BE A CATALYST
    People find it easier to join an
    ongoing success
    @lauravandoore

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  35. BE A CATALYST
    Showing a glimpse of the future
    helps folks to rally
    @lauravandoore

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  36. BE A CATALYST
    Sometimes people aren’t aware of
    the value they can contribute
    (They don’t know what they can bring to the pot)
    @lauravandoore

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  37. Be a catalyst by helping the people around
    you see an exciting possible future, with a
    clear path for how they can contribute
    @lauravandoore

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  38. Invest in your
    knowledge portfolio
    3

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  39. Your knowledge & experience are your
    most important professional assets.
    Unfortunately, they’re expiring assets.
    The Pragmatic Programmer
    @lauravandoore

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  40. INVEST IN YOUR KNOWLEDGE PORTFOLIO
    Diversify
    The more areas you have knowledge in, the more
    valuable & adaptable you are.
    @lauravandoore

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  41. INVEST IN YOUR KNOWLEDGE PORTFOLIO
    Manage risk
    Tech skills exist along a spectrum from risky, potentially
    high-reward to low-risk, low-reward skills.
    @lauravandoore

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  42. INVEST IN YOUR KNOWLEDGE PORTFOLIO
    Buy low, sell high
    Learning emerging technologies or methods might be risky, but it
    pays off for early adopters who can end up dominating that area.
    @lauravandoore

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  43. Manage your knowledge investments in
    a similar way to how you would manage
    a financial portfolio
    @lauravandoore

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  44. Push for progress over perfection
    4
    @lauravandoore

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  45. PUSH FOR PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION
    You can’t design perfect software
    There’s no single correct answer when building new features &
    products. ‘Perfect’ is dependant on the eye of the beholder.
    @lauravandoore

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  46. PUSH FOR PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION
    Plan to adapt and iterate. Permanently.
    Customers needs are always evolving, usually needing more and
    more sophisticated functionality. Product is never done.
    @lauravandoore

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  47. Speak more than one language
    1
    Be a catalyst
    2
    Invest in your knowledge portfolio
    3
    Push for progress over perfection
    4
    @lauravandoore

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  48. Pragmatic Product Mantras
    4 bite-sized knowledge nuggets
    @lauravandoore

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  49. Don’t live with broken windows
    Fix bad designs, wrong decisions, and poor code when you see them.

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  50. Horses, not zebras
    Look for expected cause first, rather than searching out something more exotic

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  51. No one from Brazil has purchased our
    product, people must not be interested.
    Later, user research showed their checkout form validation
    didn’t allow Brazilian postcodes to pass

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  52. Carve stones, but think cathedrals
    Focus on where the big picture meets the detailed implementation.

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  53. When in doubt ask the duck
    Rubber duck debugging is popular with devs, but is handy for other teams too

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  54. Thanks
    @lauravandoore

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