“Let’s play”

Executives love throwing around the word “strategy”. They’ve got their product strategy, tech strategy, marketing strategy, go-to-market strategy, go-to-lunch strategy, get-my-bonus strategy and everything in between. But what does it even mean, and how should you think strategically in your role?

Most people think they have to be an executive to do “strategy”. Most executives think “strategy” is simply a label that applies to anything they do. Turns out they’re both wrong. Strategy is a process for getting things done that starts at the top and rolls recursively all the way through a company. If an executive team doesn’t have…

If you‘re a Product manager, then you’ve probably heard developers talking about “code debt” or “technical debt”. It gets brought up a lot when engineering is asked to develop some big new feature (e.g. “Building this feature is going to require a big refactor”) As a Product Manager, it’s really frustrating to hear that your feature is infeasible due to something that seems totally outside of your control. What most PM’s don’t realize is that there’s a lot they can do from their side to avoid technical debt in the first place.

To understand technical debt and its sources, we…

You may have heard the phrase “Software is eating the world”. In short, it means that businesses across almost every industry (including yours) are being pushed to develop custom software systems to create competitive advantage and stay ahead of the competition.

The pressure comes from your customers expecting things like mobile apps, 24/7 customer service, online accounts, and e-commerce. It comes from competitors using software to lower their costs and cut into your profit margin. It comes from your employees expecting tools that help them do their jobs more easily.

Figuring out how to develop software well is a tough…

It seems like every tech event I go to these days includes at least one conversation with someone trying to change careers and move into development. It’s not surprising. With practically 0% unemployment, ballooning salaries, and work from home flexibility, a career in tech looks a lot more promising than a lot of careers people find themselves in. While the path these people are going down can be intimidating and difficult, it’s at least somewhat predictable.

I find myself giving the same advice to so many aspiring developers that I think it’s worth writing it down, both for their sake…

What makes a great Product Manager?

Hiring good product managers is hard. The role of Product Manager has become one of the most sought after job titles across many industries, and with so many applicants sporting impressive resumes and sharp communication skills, it’s hard to separate the stars from the bench players.

It doesn’t help matters that the field of Product Management is so loosely defined, and the skills required of PMs vary so greatly from company to company. With so many variables, how do you find the right fit?

At Levvel, we’ve played around with a few different ways to evaluate product managers. While all…

Too often, we hear people talking about software projects in terms of a linear construction process — moving through phases like strategy, design, and development towards a final release date. Unfortunately, that ignores the long term reality of what it means to develop and manage a software product. If you take the long view, you’ll see that product development actually follows a cyclical pattern of insight generation, design, development, and feedback.

Software creation doesn’t end after the launch any more than it does after a design session. A successful product has to be perpetually designed, implemented, measured, re-imagined, and re-implemented…

Real problems cross disciplines. Solving them requires an equal collaboration between business, design, and engineering.

Editor’s note: This is the second post in a six-part series from Levvel’s Product Innovation team that details the critical product principles the team lives by. You can read the first part here.

Think about an app, website, or electronic gadget that you love and why you love it. It could be that you love the usability of Airbnb or the value of Uber. Maybe you’re in awe of the engineering of the new iPhone or the magic of Amazon’s Echo. …

Recently, Levvel’s Product Innovation team got together to reflect on the practice’s growth and experiences over the past year. We spent the past 12 months helping our clients create new digital products through strategy workshops, product audits, and UX services. In the process, we grew the team by an order of magnitude and developed new services and methodologies to help our clients and each other. Some things worked and some didn’t, but we learned a lot about who we were and started seeing patterns in our thinking.

In order to operationalize our collective learnings, we decided to workshop our own…

There is no shortage of advice out there about how to recruit and hire the best developers. Everyone has their own process, from traditional metrics like resumes and years of experience, to logic puzzles and take home multi-day coding tests.

I’ve been interviewing developers and designers for nearly 15 years and have been focusing and refining my own process for a while. At this point, I’ve reached what I consider to be the pinnacle of minimalism. I’ve boiled my technical interview down to a single question:

What’s your story?

To be fair, the question is more complicated than it appears…

“Box Design Concept” meeting scene from HBO’s Silicon Valley perfectly captures the relationship between engineering and design — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3jxWCJUPQQ.

A couple of months ago I finally bought a new car. As a tech geek, I was most excited about all the accompanying gadgets — bluetooth phone, nav system, drive settings, dual screens, etc.

Unfortunately, when I started setting everything up, I was super disappointed by the clunky UX of these systems. They made even the most common tasks painful. The simple act of calling my wife required digging through four levels of navigation:

  1. Activate the phone on steering wheel

Assaf Weinberg

Engineering + Product Management. I ❤️ building great technology organizations.

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