No company or product can survive without feedback, both from customers and the internal team. But soliciting, vetting, and applying it are their own massive challenge: How do you make sure you're hearing from the right people in the right context, and how do you separate useful input from noise?
Cynthia Samanian, product manager at the growing private, mobile-only social network Path, is responsible for bringing together teams in engineering, design, finance, and other departments to effectively implement new features and ensure the success of the product development cycle. One of her priorities has been to devise systems for both internal and external feedback that complement varying working styles and make sure important insights aren't lost in the shuffle.
Here are three approaches that Samanian says have been effective and productive at Path:
Go Old School
Even at a technology company, technology can't solve everything, so Samanian employs an old-school, physical, real-time review process. "We have a design team that uses Photoshop and other tools to create mocks of what a feature or exploration should look like," says Samanian. "Then we have several large, white foamcore boards, throughout the office. When designers have their mocks in progress, they post them, even if they're not final. We create a physical space to look at mocks as a team, early in the product cycle, to brainstorm. We have working sessions one or two times a week for designers, engineers, and others on the team to have free-flowing conversations--or the timing can be organic, and people can convene at the boards when it's convenient. There are lots of tools to share mocks digitally among teams, but it really makes a difference to have it in a physical space. Looking at the same exact thing at the same exact time can be much more valuable than opening a Dropbox at a different time than someone else.
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