We’re Not Only the Hair Club President…

Product Management

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“I’m not only the Hair Club for Men President, I’m also a client.”

If you were around in the 80s, chances are good you instantly recognize this quote. (For you millennials out there, you can check watch the vintage spot on Youtube.)

Clearly, Wizeline isn’t hawking gimicky remedies for male pattern baldness. But I’ll argue the general sentiment of the Hair Club for Men is pertinent to our own business. Why? Because we make active use of our own product. Every. Single. Day.

Our teams use Wizeline to gather product input and market insights from across our growing organization; to transparently prioritize and rank product roadmap items; and to make real decisions about where to allocate engineering resources.

(And yes, what you’ve heard is true: in our first early beta, we used autonomous decision-making algorithms to pick where we’d order lunch for a week… Turns out tacos, Indian and Sushi are consistent winners.)

Anyway, here are a few snippets on what we’ve learned using Wizeline’s solutions so far.

Big Tent, Big Data

Managing the complexity of a large team requires fundamentally different techniques from a small team. The same way Big Data has abandoned the sharded DB as a solution, a large, flat, distributed organization requires fundamentally different techniques for collaboration and management. A bigger meeting room is not the solution for a bigger team; smarter tools that take into account added complexity is the answer.

As we’ve built and used our own solutions, we’ve come to see that Wizeline drives a huge amount of value when adoption rates across teams are high. That’s because the collective action dynamics increase dramatically in complexity as more and more team members participate. Wizeline solves for this big tent challenge. The more data inputs gathered from your team, the harder it is to efficiently interpret and effectively make decisions. BUT… the bigger the potential gains. It stands to reason that combining the wisdom of many with the efficiency of few makes for a winning strategy. That’s what Wizeline is all about.

Iterate and Communicate

Wizeline is people-centric and collaborative. This becomes immediately apparent the first time you log into the platform. You’re presented with a clear view of your company’s various teams and people. And once you get started with your first prioritization survey, you’ll quickly find yourself weighing in on product requirements, market considerations and feature requests.

Something we didn’t expect was how much Wizeline prompted in-person communication. Our solution enables teams to collaborate digitally — both on desktop and mobile. But as we’ve down the path of collaborative product development decisioning, we’ve found that much of this online activity has prompted valuable face-to-face interaction offline. A crazy concept, we know…

The result has been straightforward, cross-team discussions around the relative merits of our pending product opportunities. In these early days of using Wizeline, we’ve found that prioritization surveys engender better alignment and buy-in among our teams.

Decide Decisively

Making consistently good product decisions is difficult. For every successful launch, companies invest in other products and features that never quite catch on — or are shelved before even being brought to market. Since we’ve only been using Wizeline for about four months, we’re not yet sure how high our success rate in the market will be. That said, we’ve stumbled across several key findings.

With Wizeline our teams know a few things with certainty. First, we know a decision will be made — and there’s a clear timetable for all stakeholders. Second, we know that our individual input will be considered. Third, we know who’ll be accountable for delivering on the various product components outlined in the prioritization results. And, finally, we’ll have a transparent view into exactly why a particular decision was made. Maybe it was to support a Sales request from the field, or perhaps we needed to address a particular product gap.

The bottom line is that we’re better able to decide decisively and as a team. Our hope, and aim, is to build more great products and avoid building ones that would have otherwise ended up in the scrap heap.

Anyway, those are our two cents. If you’re a Wizeline customer and you’d like to share your experiences, let us know!

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Adam Sewall Posted by Adam Sewall on Monday, March 31, 2014.

Comments

[…] Of course, we’re strong believers that product management is part art, part science. So, Wizeline allows teams to engage in some horse-trading before publishing a final product roadmap. Maybe a must-have feature for Sales fell below the line — or perhaps Engineering absolutely must invest time to reduce technology debt. These items could be dragged up above the Wizeline as part of cross-team negotiations — before product work actually begins. For a good example, check out Wizeline’s own product roadmap process. […]

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Jun 28, 2017

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