Random ruminations as I figure out and deal with life, grad school, being an engineer and a product manger; learn more about technology, marketing, economics, news, writing short stories and other stuff that distracts me from doing whatever I'm supposed to be doing....
A few months ago while trying to sketch some scenarios, instead of doing the standard "User does X; then does Y", after some encouragement by a more senior Googler, I spent a little bit of time thinking about who the user was and wove stories around each use case (admittedly what I was working on lent itself to that.)
I told a story about how Bob would use a certain product, why he was interested in it, and how it fit perfectly with what he did in the morning, and how his daugher would use it as well and how they'd pay for it...etc., etc.
Two things happened:
Firstly, it was just a lot more fun for me to work on! I like story-telling. :)
Secondly, I thought it helped the product definition quite a bit.
True marketing professoinals (especially in CPG) do this really well, and there's a lot to learn there. They create detailed profiles of their end users and think about them obsessively (life-size-posters-in-the-office and show-up-in-their-dream obsessively.)
Applying some of these storytelling and profiling techniques helps keep the user more real when your thinking about products, and hence hopefully helps build better products.
A couple of weeks ago, while in line waiting to pick up some food I'd just ordered, I overheard two conversations - I don't make a habit of this, but it's hard to not hear things when you leave your phone behind. :-/
My first reactions as I heard both of these conversations was annoyance at the protagonist in one and admiration for the other. Both conversations stayed with me for a while, but it took me some time to realize that was unfair on my part to be annoyed at the person that I was annoyed at.
So about these conversations:
The first was between someone working there and a friend. She was sympathizing with her friend who'd be starting a new job leaving this place. "Oh, it's minimum wage again?", she said with concern in her voice. "Yes, but it's fine", said her friend. The job was closer to where she lived so she thought she'd make about the same and she might get home a little earlier to her daughter some evenings though the hours…
Every once in a while, I'm reminded that humans can be completely lacking in humanity.
My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.
She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.
No one did.
The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.
Still nobody moved.
My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn…