Researching Product Managers

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 Anyone that knows me, knows I am a large proponent of User Research in the Product Development process.

Meeting Users is the single most valuable activity any product team can do. Period.

I am lucky since I work with a great team that values User Research as much as I do. In most cases when we research I always have the 'my' PM and Tech lead join me. We have been doing this for some time and I have never reflected over it.

Recently, I have had another PM ask me:

‘Do you think PMs should participate in User Research together with UX designers?'

My answer was a resounding ‘Yes!'

I view User Research as something every member of the Product Team should participate at some point. The more knowledge about the users that the team has the better the end results. I also find when these different roles participate in the research everyone view things with their special filter and biases.

Business, technology and Design.

No single perspective is completely correct, but together they (hopefully) balance themselves out.

I recently listened to a podcast with Peter Merholz where he stated that the ‘User Research’ function should reside in the Product Management team (min 13:45). In principle, I agree with this, but feel it depends on the UX maturity of the organisation. The less mature the organisation the less likely this will happen. It isnt until the organisation reaches the 'Design as a process' or 'Design as a Strategy' (using the Danish Design Centre’s Design Ladder) that they are equipped incorporate a generalist User research role. Based on the PMs that I have experience with, it is matter prioritising their time and User Research is something that takes time. I also believe this type of research takes time to learn and perfect as a skill. This happens through practice and I believe to do this well one needs to concentrate on this.

My general research approach is:

1.  Aim for PM’s to attend as much User Research as possible.

2. User Research should be facilitated by a UX researcher or designer.

3. Probably the most important. After each research session have a debrief meeting in order to summarise learnings, draw consistent conclusions and discuss resolutions.

4. Finally spread what has been learned to a wider audience.

Did I miss something ?