I first heard of Wardley Mapping about 2 months ago and then the name started popping up in a few places which got us investigating it as a potential topic. Coming at it from zero knowledge, it seemed like the sort of thing product folks should know more about as it concerned both strategy & decision making.
Kim Ballestrin, Principal Consultant at elabor8, talked us through the basics and got us creating a map by thinking through the user needs capturing & protecting their personal data when using social media.
The What of Wardley Maps
A Wardley Map is a representation of the landscape & environment a company operates in. Its creator, Simon Wardley, believes a leader should have a map of the terrain to help guide their strategy.
The map consists of the activities the user needs to accomplish their goal charted across lifecycle, supply & demand.
You can use this framework in several ways, such as:
To think about your ongoing product development – from USP to commodities
A way of looking at the market or competitor landscape
Process and value chains from understanding where you have no standard process to defining a highly standardised process
The Whys of Wardley Maps
The map is a great way to create discussion. Once created, scan your map from top to bottom and left to right to determine if there are specific decisions that need to be made. Look for assumptions you’re making on the map or within your existing thought process.
Bonus – The How of Wardley Maps!
There’s a few principles to keep in mind when creating a Wardley Map:
The user need is your starting point
Keep it simple and on a small scale – don’t try to map EVERYTHING!
Your map will be imperfect – and that is completely ok!
How to create a Wardley Map
Define your user’s needs.
What are the activities the user takes in order for those needs to be met?
Drill down into functions & features based on the visibility of the features to the end user.
Chart your functions & features from left to right along the evolutionary axes. The axes go from bespoke (genesis) on the left to generic (commodity) on the right.
Sketch in the linkages between the features & functions. This gives a good landscape of where you are right now.
Mapping out these connections and perhaps seeing where you may be too dominant in your commodity space & thus are at risk of disruption. Or understand that you’re too heavy in custom services, which bring high cost to serve & thus its time to consider streamlining the business by moving those to a product stage. These are some examples of ways a Wardley map helps you see the landscape and make better strategic decisions on what to do next as an organisation.
ProdAnon also had a bit of a surprise! The man himself, Simon Wardley, creator of this framework just happened to be in Melbourne Thursday evening and attended the session. Thank you Kim for inviting him!
Simon was kind enough to take some questions from the audience & talk through how he came up with his framework all those years ago.
We opened 2019 talking about roadmaps – a topic we had been asked in responses to our annual feedback to spend some more time on. We invited our speakers to share their different perspectives on roadmaps… and we heard come common themes to help understand how to keep a roadmap from controlling your life, and how to turn it into a fabulous communication and vision guide for inspiring your teams, plus some sage advice relevant to each organisation who took the stage that evening.
Below are some highlights from each talk plus the slides from each speaker – feel free to reach out to any of them if you would like to chat more. Plus we have added some references to other resources to read and explore at the end of this post.
David Bignall / Seek
David had much to share – ultimately not a fan but he did share some tips on how to help make them work for you rather than be a slave to them!
Roadmaps are a thing, every company has them so you will
encounter them. David used this deck at Seek over a year ago to his team and
people so proof they are a real thing, but after having the discussion has
helped wean the team/group he is on off them.
For David when sharing what he thinks a roadmap is showed a
map – because it is a journey to an unknown place.
“A document to capture and quickly convey a team’s big-picture goals, specific objectives and their imagined path to success” – Dave
“A company roadmap is a document to capture and quickly convey its big-picture plans and objectives” – prodplan.com
“The first purpose is because the management of a company wants to make sure that the teams are working on the highest value items first, relevant to the company strategy.
The second purpose is because businesses may have date-based commitments. The roadmap is where they see and track those commitments.” Marty Cagan, SVPG
They can be useful – but they can also be a big waste of
time – common issues:
Intended goals/purpose are not stated or are not clear
Often far to specific
You can’t have that much foresight 9 months away
They do not account for “time to value”. Iteration is almost always needed to realise the full value of a new product/feature – (David bravely shared an own example of a very bad roadmap!)
Put item on there and them immediately moving on to the next thing
Ignoring the process of iteration or things going wrong
Detail on roadmap can lead team to auto-pilot. They build what they put down on paper often months in advance
Team goes into auto-pilot. As if this is their job, rather than thinking of most value to be delivered for the customer
Distributed copies are out of date
Keeping stakeholders up to date can drain your time. You don’t want to feel like you work for the roadmap, and it is just sucking your time from doing real work.
“Many untested hypotheses, based on assumptions, plotted in an uncertain future, bearing no resemblance to reality” Jared Spool
Dave’s top tips for roadmaps
Show where you want to go
Choose granularity relative to the timeframe and
Avoid specificity (Show the problem or JTBD or
objectives as descriptors of intent rather than the solution)
Whitney opened with sharing a story about her experiences of
not liking roadmaps because she has never seen a roadmap, become reality. She
first got to know REA when working at a company in the US, and became a slave
to the roadmap as they committed to work they would deliver to this customer.
Then, she joined REA and was so excited about agile and thought, YES! I’ll get
away from roadmaps! But she was fooling herself – see the beautiful roadmap on
the wall at REA (pictured in slides). However, she soon found that REA was
using roadmaps and needed to due to the big size of the organisation and the
need to coordinate a lot across so many teams, groups etc.
However, in Whitney’s attempt to accept roadmaps and make peace with the need for them she started asking “Why do people ask for roadmaps?”.
Some of the things she learnt don’t work when using them:
Don’t work as a promise
Too much detail – just a list of lower level
Lose focus on what the customer needs.
REA owns a lot of companies and even just within
Realestate.com a dozen delivery teams.
“Satisfaction is a confirmation or dis-confirmation of expectations.”
Example of people waiting for train for 15 minutes but
dissatisfied, and others warned that train will come at 5:30 and apologies for
the delay, did not rate their travel experience as dissatisfying as compared to
the first group as their expectations were met/managed.
With that in mind let’s try to think what this artefact does
to satisfy our leaders.
So what are they currently doing with Whitney’s team – they
use a 90 day view – showing a commitment up to 90 days. No promises beyond that
– great for delivery teams. Not great for stakeholders.
For stakeholders they use a Discovery backlog (second 90 days) and an Opportunity backlog (all the rest – no priority) – people now satisfied that their idea is on there – somewhere. Others groups understand that stuff that comes out of Discovery will most likely make it to the committed version and the conversation is being moved to a different stage of team flow.
I encourage you to seek to understand with genuine curiosity, the needs of anyone who has a problem and thinks that a roadmap is the solution. Whitney
Keith Swann / Origin Engery
Keith brought to us a more positive upside to the roadmap
His beliefs are that they help with:
Alignment – up or down
Influence – rarely based on dollars
Leadership – how do we inspire people and rally
them to our cause
Everyone will scrutinize it to their own
beliefs, so do it carefully – target on your back
Strategic – Financial, PMOs, GMs, etc. etc.
interpret the stuff and then try to manage up and down.
Cultural – make sure it talks to your audience
Influence Record – Successful record of moving
things along. Better record = less scrutiny
A road map is a Story telling device and the aspects Keith uses are MUM, Problems, Position, Opportunity, Value. How do you tell the story, “up or down” the organisation. Think of the “Cone of influence” – below people can make lots of small decision but not big decisions. As you move up you get spun out if you aren’t managing those stakeholders.
Eisenhower: Plans are useless, but planning is
Every day the plan can change – the second your
plan is finished it is out of date.
Roadmap = Vision.
Don’t put in too much detail
Think of your audience – Working Tested Feature
Don’t muddle the Project Mindset – Delivery
Planning – Bookending with a roadmap
Don’t become vague in your horizon 2 and 3 –
don’t over promise
Make it easily editable and manageable
Post Its on the wall and photos
Over invested time of effort – working with
visual designers. 5 days work and 6/7000$ and printed in colour. Thus, you deliver
to the roadmap even though you don’t want it anymore because too much effort
went into the artefact.
Don’t clearly show values
Don’t focus on the feature – focus on the
problem or opportunity.
Roadmaps may very well be a necessary evil, especially in a big organisation when you have many teams and people to motivate, inspire and align. However, our speakers have shared some great tips to help keep you from being a slave to them as well. For some more references and reading on steering clear of them and/or leaning into making them work for you check out some of the links below:
Trust came up very early in our discussion. For CultureAmp, trust is part of their company values and differences of opinion is a good thing. When you challenge things, it’s from a good place. Karista has 1 product person & Danielle was super impressed by the research and prep the PM did before their 1st meeting – which quickly earned her trust. Linus talked about the differences people have in the way they think of earning trust. Some people start from a place of trust while others need to build it up.
When did they realise they needed a product manager?
Rod went to the rest of the founders & said he needed to start hiring because he was getting slammed. Some of the other teams at Culture Amp, including technology, had scaled up previously so it wasn’t a surprise when he came to the realisation. Danielle brought on the 1st PM shortly after launch. As a solo founder, she needed someone she could hand stuff over to and know it will be done.
Most of what you release at launch will be wrong. What matters is how quickly you can iterate to get it right. – @rodjhamilton#prodanon
Danielle laughingly said she doesn’t know what a product manager does (as in what the job description should include) but she knows the only product manager at Karista gets stuff done!
One of the reasons Linus realised they needed a product manager was no one was paying attention to trends of the market & what opportunities were out there. They had a product owner who was internally focused & worked closely with the dev team but only he & his business partner ever talked to customers. He sees the product manager as being visionary as in really knowing customer needs, not just what the customer says they need.
The ‘special’ deals
Startups often have the ‘special’. That thing(or multiple things!) that was built for the 1 customer so the business can get the revenue or a specific client or (insert reason). It’s completely sales led, isn’t validated as a customer need and often ends up with code that says ‘if customer X, do this’. Saying yes to a special for 1 customer is saying no to all the others so if you’re going to do this, you need to put it in context – communicate clearly with the team why you’re doing this.
Later Rod reminded us that it’s the product manager role to ‘win the market not the client’ & quoted Gibson Biddle’s definition where our job is to delight customers, in margin-enhancing, hard-to-copy ways (from Gibson’s Leading the Product talk )
Scaling the product team
Beyond the 1st PM, you will need to scale your own team. Culture Amp now has ~ 9 product people and is continuing to grow. They are creating product rituals like a Monday catchup to review the week’s goals and one on Friday for the team to talk about what went well/not well during the week (a bit of a therapy session).
Now that there are several PMs & Rod isn’t involved at the same level as previously, he sometimes wonders why X was prioritised and knows he would have done X differently but has to let go of those decisions. The team has built trust amongst themselves so when Rod does challenge something – it’s a positive thing & discussion to follow.
Rod from @CultureAmp talking about the weirdness of sometimes not seeing a feature til launch (as a founder) and making sure his folks know him asking about a decision is a good thing. #prodanon
We know people are at the core of what we do. Yet, our best developers, designers, and product managers are rarely able to talk about people with as much confidence and nuance as they talk about ruby, typefaces or commercial strategy.
Using several clips of music, Gin had us mark how each music clip made us feel on the graph & compare with others sitting at our table. There was definitely differences in what made us happy or sad and how energised (or not) it made us feel. Though apparently I’m the only person who gets annoyed by the Lion King soundtrack! To contrast, one attendee recounted how the Lion King brings up memories & great feelings of her daughter based on past experiences and you could see how happy she was as she told us about this. Imagine the 2 of us in a workshop where the Lion King soundtrack was playing in the background… she’d be in a great frame of mind where I’d be feeling agitated. Could that affect the results of the workshop?
Think about how music affects you. Consider a song you hate vs one you love vs one that is unoffensive. To bring this back to the office, how do the meeting rooms make you feel? Does your research participant or client feel comfortable?
This combines how a product looks & makes us feel when we engage with it (initially & ongoing) with our conscious thought about the product (for example – does it represent what I want to project to the world?)
Gin likes to use Jobs to be Done instead of User Stories to capture these elements. She feels there’s too many assumptions in the ‘As a…’ and ‘I want to…’ of user stories. A JTBD statement focuses on the situation, motivation & expected outcome – ‘when (situation), i want to (motivation) so I can (expected outcome)’.
Using the classic MP3 player example, Gin showed how using emotional design changes what you build.
functional description – When I’m listening to music I want a device that holds all my music so I can listen to anything at any time.
emotional – When I’m listening to music I want a device that looks good so I feel as cool as the artists I’m listening to
We hope you’ve heard about Leading the Product – the fantastic product management conference Down Under.
We teamed up with the LTP folks to hold a pitchfest for lightning talk spots and we’re thrilled to announce Daniel Kinal & Shiyu Zhu will take the stage in October!!
Thanks to everyone for supporting the folks who pitched their talks, to Seek for hosting, for Leading the Product for the great idea and to our judging panel – Adrienne Tan of Brainmates/Leading the Product, Mark O’Shea of Seek and Dan Johnston of CultureAmp.
Know your beginning and end! Give yourself some time to ad-lib in the middle
Good memes at the beginning & end help
Practice, practice, practice, practice!
Know how fast or slow you speak when you’re in front of people.
Focus on the content of the talk first and the slides second.
Props are your friend
Bring a story to life
Have 3 things the audience can walk away with
That sick feeling you have before getting up on stage is a good thing – it’s excitement!
We had 10 pitches on the evening – including a last minute submission! They were all fantastic!! Leading the Product only had 2 spots available so we hope to hear these other talks at Product Camp Melbourne in August!
To introduce our panel, we quizzed them on their qualifications… Dave Calleja – Associate Design Director at Isobar. Has a degree in design. Kate Edwards-Davis – Product Manager at Karista. Studied classical music performance & philosophy. Dr Stefanie Di Russo – Principal Designer at NAB. Holds design degrees including a PhD in design thinking. Daniel Kinal – Product Manager at MYOB. His degrees go across economics, accounting, marketing and a some information systems stuff.
And our moderator – Liz Blink – Digital Customer Experience Manager at Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning VIC Government. Holds a PhD in immunology.
Which goes to show we work with people from very diverse backgrounds & there’s different avenues to getting into the work we do.
First we surveyed the audience to see which camp they belonged to… service design, product, something else or multiple areas. 57% of our audience said they were something else! From the shouts from the audience, it seemed a lot of folks identified with ‘UX’.
Dave raised the definition of ‘product’ and how you can’t really divide up things like Netflix into those definitions of ‘product’ or ‘service’. Do you think Netflix is a product or a service? He feels to discuss the two, there needs to be some semantic mud hurdling.
Steph pointed out that service design has a time element with artifacts and actors while product is the artifact itself at a certain point of time.
While Daniel thinks it’s all ‘product’ going across goods & services lines. If we are talking about eating a mandarin for breakfast or getting a scalp massage there’s a clear ‘product’ or ‘service’ in those definitions but we probably all work on complex products which have both tangible & intangible elements. There is a basket of benefits you’re offering the end customer.
Kate asked ‘who cares?’. The outcome is the important thing! We’re trying to package something together to help meet a customer’s need. ‘Products’ co-exist with ‘services’ and we even buy some ‘products’ despite the ‘service’ we receive with them.
Kate brought a prop along to prove the point that a ‘product’ or good can always be improved when you think about the ‘service’! Who Gives a Crap is toilet paper that’s been wrapped in a ‘service’. They offer a subscription service so you never run out and they are focused on social good by being environmentally sound and donating profits. They are disrupting with their ‘service’.
There was lots of talk of physical products – mandarins, toilet paper and then coke! Steph discussed the difference between a ‘service’ and an ‘experience’. The taste of the coke is part of the ‘experience’ while there’s actors & elements that enable the ‘service’ to exist.
But Dave brought it back into the realm of the digital (which most folks in the room work in…). When you are using a digital ‘service’ like Netflix, there’s definitely a physical attribute which might be sitting on the couch, having a tablet or remote in your hand. It’s how the end user experiences this, how the end user views that as the product. What words we in the industry use to discuss it isn’t as important as the outcome.
Service can be a product. Product can be a service. Clear as mud right?
Almost every product comes with a service.
What’s important is that we progress the customer? #prodanon
Service design is a design methodology & an approach to tackle problems. There are lots of frameworks & ways to understand problems and each discipline (product, design, marketing, etc) will have preferred ways. You can have customer experience people who do not use design methodologies and may rely more on marketing.
Daniel sees the rise of design thinking as a level of maturity in seeing the value of not going right to a solution and looking for ways to truly articulate the problem.
There was some discussion on how good ‘service’ can recover people when they have a bad ‘product’ experience. The ‘service’ element is what helps to get the good online reviews.
Steph asked Daniel if a good product person should have a design background which lead to a discussion about working together.
Everyone agreed a team needs to exist which brings different perspectives and skill sets. Kate brought up the skill set of being able to deliver a product at a price point that will sell & the act of using the organisation’s capabilities. Daniel discussed one of the responsibilities for a product manager is to be the advocate for the stakeholder who is not in the room (including the customer). Dave said if the team isn’t considering viability, feasibility & desirablity together, you’re unbalanced. Steph focuses more on the desirability while working with product people but is also thinking about the other two.
Healthy debates where you’re not so dogmatic about your position are best said Steph. Daniel wants designers to have a different perspective and be even more customer driven than he is so they can have creative (good) conflict about the different ways to reach a specific goal. He’s found that the more experience a person has, typically they have a level of maturity that allows them to leave their ego at the door about whose idea it was but at the end of the meeting, you are all focused in 1 direction.
Kate recommends spending time together to understand the customer & strategy. What a person’s title is doesn’t matter as long as you are there to learn & understand from each other. Dave also mentioned psychological safety of having those conversations & suggested leaving the drama to Love Island, not the office.
A cognitive bias is a shortcut your brain takes to make decisions. Cognitive biases can impact our decision making, our memory, the way we interpret research and more.
As product managers need to understand our customers & their needs, motivations, problems (etc), it is a ‘mistake’ to let your lazy brain fall prey to the cognitive biases that make you hold onto your own preferences or beliefs, no matter what evidence is presented!
when we have an idea in our head we try to confirm it… in mtgs, in research etc. we should try to disprove our ideas as a way to not have confirmation bias… #prodanon
Our speaker was David Di Sipio, a registered Psychologist and currently working at Squiz as a UX Consultant. David creates great experiences by focusing on what makes people tick. His approach is grounded in academic research, big-data and best-practice.
Does data or design rule supreme for us product folk? When we’re deciding what to work on or how to create whatever we’re creating… which do we lean towards?
To debate data vs design, we gathered a fabulous panel:
Firmly on the data side was Marty Kemka from Northraine. Marty is a data scientist and entrepreneur. He’s worked on projects where something needed to shift and he says as long as you know the metric & design the experiment properly, the data should be able to show you the way.
On the design side, from Cogent, Amelia Crook is very interested in what human need is being solved and thinks people leave a trail of data but that data can’t give you the insight as to why the person has done something. The why is what gets you to the need.
Also, Steve Bauer was sitting on the design side. Steve also wants to understand the human element, is appreciative of qualitative research & yet knows his way around the numbers.
And finally Jane Register who has a design background and said she was also representing design. She’s previously worked with qualitative research but currently works on a product with lots of data. She has more data available now than ever before and finds that exciting.
FYI Jane & Steve work together at Aconex and prior to the event, Steve thought Jane would absolutely be on the data side. Jane later talked about how as a UX designer, she can’t have data without design nor design without data. For her you need to data to tell you some things but you also need the ‘why’.
We also had a great facilitator for the evening, Jane Scowcroft from Data61.
Everyone had a card to vote if they were ‘data’ or ‘design’ and the initial check suggested most were leaning towards the data side. Our unscientific count was data in the lead at maybe 60% of the audience. The subsequent discussion may have gotten us to a different outcome!?!
Delving into the data isn’t easy according to our design folks. You need to know the context of the questions asked, if the data is spread across different tables or db & there will be back & forth between you & the data analyst in order to even craft the right questions. You can get lost down data rabbit holes. Marty agreed that it needs to be a collaboration with the data analyst because you need to realise there will be database changes to work with, you need to know the context of when an event happened, you have to really understand what you’re measuring and what confidence level you have in all this.
We also touched on using the data to tell the right story of your product. How are you measuring success, what are you optimising for and is that in the context of your product, your department or the entire (especially when large) organisation?
About half way thru the evening, another audience check had us about 50/50 split across data v design.
We see the value of bringing data scientists & analysts into the design fold to help them do their jobs better. Marty recounted a project he worked on where he went out to the field to see how things where done which then greatly helped when he was back at his computer. Over the years it’s been about getting developers to understand the customers more… now we need to bring along the data folks.
Amelia mentioned that looking at an excel sheet doesn’t help you connect with your users. You don’t gain a lot of empathy amongst the cells and rows! Taking folks out in the field so they can meet users is great motivation for wanting to solve that problem for the user.
At the end, the panel couldn’t help itself and admitted needing both data and design to get a great outcome in your product world. I think maybe even Marty started coming around 🙂 And our audience was pretty even 50/50.
We kicked off the year with ‘Building & Scaling Product Management Teams’ because it was one of the most requested topics in our year end survey and it’s something Rich Mironov knows a bit about as he often comes into a company to help them sort out their team (and of course product).
After a quick review of what a product manager’s role is, Rich got right into the team aspect. Both problem finding AND problem solving are team sports, not only for you THE product manager. When there isn’t someone within the business who is knowledgeable about product management, you will find someone is ‘playing’ product manager.
At a startup, the founder who has the passion for the problem & users will often be working on the product. A startup founder has a lot of other responsibilities so need to think about hiring a PM when the sales pressure is increasing, they need someone to help them FOCUS & scalability is needed – often this is somewhere between hitting 12-25 employees. Rich STRONGLY believes you need to bring in someone who with experience at this point – not someone with deep domain knowledge, not someone at the company in another role, not someone with a ‘scrum’ or ‘project’ word in their title but someone who’s been here & done that & has the scars.
At any company, when it comes to building the product team. Rich believes it’s better to reduce the distance between the customer/user, the product person & the development team. His favourite structure for a team is a product person & the dev/ux/design/etc team to be close (physically & collaboratively) with the users via frequent learning conversations. He is not a fan of the customer feedback/problems/conversation filtered via sales or a single product person or marketing, etc.
Which is when we hit the controversial part of the evening – Rich believes the ‘product owner’ job is setup for failure for several reasons including they don’t have time with customers to understand the problems before writing stories & they’re not focused on the end value but productivity focused. Instead of having the owner & manager roles as separate people, it should be the same person doing both roles.
Lastly, we talked a bit more about the different roles in a product team. The product manager should be shipping great individual products, thinking 2-4 quarters ahead & is a relentless communicator of truth. The Director of PM should be focusing on processes, resources & the team. Budget & Strategy, planning for the next 6 quarters & ‘keeping the trains running’ are the focus. A Head of Product/VP is part of the executive team, focusing on aligning strategy, products & the organisation.
Steve Bauer, a product manager at Telstra Wholesale assembled 3 folks with different backgrounds who have been across the 2 roles to hash out the differences & how they can work together.
Our panelists included Michael Sloan who has recently changed roles from product manager to product owner at NAB. Nadia Gishen who’s currently a product owner at Aconex but has been a product manager before. Manoel Pimentel is an agile coach at elabor8.
One man who feels strongly about this debate is Nick Coster from Brainmates. Unfortunately Nick couldn’t attend as he was overseas but he made a guest appearance. 😉 You can read his thoughts about the Dynamic Duo on the Brainmates blog or watch the talk he gave at the 2015 Product Camp Melbourne
Before kicking off the discussion, we wanted to know what roles the audience had – were they more owner or manager? Much to our surprise, they were neither! In the audience, 40% were not product owners OR managers (!!!!), 25% were product managers, 20% were doing both roles, 15% were product owners.
If you work in product, you already know companies define the role in a variety of ways. If you are a product manager and work with a product owner (or vice versa), how do both of you set yourself up for success? Our panel agreed that talking with each other to clearly understand what you feel responsible for and what the company thinks you’re responsible for is required. This should be a conversation you have – not a job description.
The business analyst (BA) role typically sits between product & development to write very detailed requirements but with the rise of the product owner role, BA roles are disappearing.
A danger of being a product owner is being an order taker in terms of what is built, how & when. Product owners need to think & talk about how they can support both the product manager and the team. They can add value in many ways so determine what works best for your current situation.
No matter which role it is, our panel recommends looking for a few things when hiring someone – problem solving ability, communication, resiliance and someone who doesn’t tire easily 🙂
This was our last event for 2017. Product Anonymous will kick off in February 2018 so sign up to our newsletter, add yourself to meetup, follow us on twitter, join the slack group, follow in instagram… all that good stuff! See all the links.