Product Thinking
Debating User Research, Experimentation and the PM Role with Kent Beck
October 20, 2021
This episode of Product Thinking Melissa interviews Extreme Programming Founder and Agile Manifesto signatory Kent Beck. Kent has had a prolific career in software development, including a role as Technical Coach at Facebook from 2011-2018, and is now a Fellow at Gusto. Melissa and Kent share their thoughts on where and when user research should fit into the product development process, the “3X” development model Kent originated while at Facebook, incentivizing employees, and what Extreme Programming looks like 20 years later.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Kent talk about in this episode: The greatest value is created when you have somebody with the capability to talk to somebody with the need. [4:55] How the role of software development and product management changes depending on the phase of customer experience. [8:32] There are pros and cons to customer research. On one hand, it’s useful to determine what features people like and dislike. On the other, there have been times where customer research indicated something wasn’t advisable, yet when it was launched, it was successful. Snapchat and the iPhone are prime examples. [11:02] Kent tells Melissa, “If the incentives are there to not [do something], they're not going to [do it]... Incentives are about storytelling, meaning, purpose, fellowship, personal growth, and the sense of mastery.” [17:49] It’s important that companies have causal, low-stakes interactions with people whose lives are affected by the decisions they make. [24:56] People often forget that finding and emphasizing purpose is hugely energizing. Something as simple as identifying your goal and throwing a party when you accomplish it can motivate your employees. [33:32] To be a good coach, you need to be able to apply the knowledge you have in different ways and be a good storyteller. You also need empathy and credibility. [37:54] “If XP wants to come back and be a force [to be reckoned with], we need to have ways of addressing its inequities. We can't reject half the people in the world because they have two X chromosomes, we can't reject two-thirds of the people in the world because their skin happens to be brown. We have to both become aware of and navigate the power differentials that we all bring into software development,” Kent shares. Resources Kent Beck on LinkedIn KentBeck.com
This episode of Product Thinking Melissa interviews Extreme Programming Founder and Agile Manifesto signatory Kent Beck. Kent has had a prolific career in software development, including a role as Technical Coach at Facebook from 2011-2018, and is now a Fellow at Gusto. Melissa and Kent share their thoughts on where and when user research should fit into the product development process, the “3X” development model Kent originated while at Facebook, incentivizing employees, and what Extreme Programming looks like 20 years later.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Kent talk about in this episode: The greatest value is created when you have somebody with the capability to talk to somebody with the need. [4:55] How the role of software development and product management changes depending on the phase of customer experience. [8:32] There are pros and cons to customer research. On one hand, it’s useful to determine what features people like and dislike. On the other, there have been times where customer research indicated something wasn’t advisable, yet when it was launched, it was successful. Snapchat and the iPhone are prime examples. [11:02] Kent tells Melissa, “If the incentives are there to not [do something], they're not going to [do it]... Incentives are about storytelling, meaning, purpose, fellowship, personal growth, and the sense of mastery.” [17:49] It’s important that companies have causal, low-stakes interactions with people whose lives are affected by the decisions they make. [24:56] People often forget that finding and emphasizing purpose is hugely energizing. Something as simple as identifying your goal and throwing a party when you accomplish it can motivate your employees. [33:32] To be a good coach, you need to be able to apply the knowledge you have in different ways and be a good storyteller. You also need empathy and credibility. [37:54] “If XP wants to come back and be a force [to be reckoned with], we need to have ways of addressing its inequities. We can't reject half the people in the world because they have two X chromosomes, we can't reject two-thirds of the people in the world because their skin happens to be brown. We have to both become aware of and navigate the power differentials that we all bring into software development,” Kent shares. Resources Kent Beck on LinkedIn KentBeck.com

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