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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
  2. None
  3. How could a book about programming written 2 decades ago

    be applicable to modern product development? @lauravandoore
  4. Building Products in 2019

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

  7. None
  8. None
  9. What makes a pragmatic product person? @lauravandoore

  10. They think beyond the immediate problem and place it in

    a larger context Trait #1 BIG PICTURE THINKER @lauravandoore
  11. They work with the chess pieces that are on the

    board, rather than the resources they wish they had Trait #2 DEEPLY REALISTIC @lauravandoore
  12. They constantly re-evaluate and question current methods, approach & practices

    Trait #3 INQUISITIVE @lauravandoore
  13. They deeply care about their craft, and actively invest in

    new skill development Trait #4 SKILLED CRAFTSPERSON @lauravandoore
  14. They make informed decisions and intelligent compromises Trait #5 SCIENTIFIC

    MINDSET @lauravandoore
  15. Big picture thinker Realistic Inquisitive Skilled Craftsperson Test & Learn

    Mindset Pragmatic Product Mindset Traits @lauravandoore
  16. Cultivating a Pragmatic Product Mindset @lauravandoore

  17. Speak more than one language 1

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

  19. The limits of languages influence how you think about a

    problem The Pragmatic Programmer @lauravandoore
  20. Building product is a team sport With many roles and

    players In 2019 @lauravandoore
  21. Learning the languages of your teammates is a super power

  22. SPEAK MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE • Customers • Engineering •

    Product Management • Design & UX • Business @lauravandoore
  23. Shared language and skill overlap breaks down barriers @lauravandoore

  24. Be a catalyst 2 @lauravandoore

  25. A chemical substance that can be added to a reaction

    to increase the reaction rate without getting consumed in the process Catalyst Noun @lauravandoore
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. STORY TIME Stone Soup @lauravandoore

  29. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

  30. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

  31. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

  32. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

  33. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

  34. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

  35. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

  36. Illustrations by Marcia Brown

  37. BE A CATALYST People find it easier to join an

    ongoing success @lauravandoore
  38. BE A CATALYST Showing a glimpse of the future helps

    folks to rally @lauravandoore
  39. 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
  40. Be a catalyst by helping the people around you see

    an exciting possible future, with a clear path for how they can contribute @lauravandoore
  41. Invest in your knowledge portfolio 3

  42. Your knowledge & experience are your most important professional assets.

    Unfortunately, they’re expiring assets. The Pragmatic Programmer @lauravandoore
  43. INVEST IN YOUR KNOWLEDGE PORTFOLIO Diversify The more areas you

    have knowledge in, the more valuable & adaptable you are. @lauravandoore
  44. 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
  45. 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
  46. Manage your knowledge investments in a similar way to how

    you would manage a financial portfolio @lauravandoore
  47. Push for progress over perfection 4 @lauravandoore

  48. 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
  49. 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
  50. Speak more than one language 1 Be a catalyst 2

    Invest in your knowledge portfolio 3 Push for progress over perfection 4 @lauravandoore
  51. Pragmatic Product Mantras 4 bite-sized knowledge nuggets @lauravandoore

  52. Don’t live with broken windows Fix bad designs, wrong decisions,

    and poor code when you see them.
  53. Horses, not zebras Look for expected cause first, rather than

    searching out something more exotic
  54. 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
  55. Carve stones, but think cathedrals Focus on where the big

    picture meets the detailed implementation.
  56. When in doubt ask the duck Rubber duck debugging is

    popular with devs, but is handy for other teams too
  57. Thanks @lauravandoore