Building a Better UX/Product Process by Improving Team Dynamics

Cindy Alvarez works for Microsoft in their San Francisco office. She started out her career without any intention of entering the field of tech. She was going to be a psychology professor and somewhere along the way she says, “I got distracted by a shiny object, or a bunch of them. And essentially for my entire career, I worked in various parts of user experience and product management and research. I like to joke that I’ve had basically the same job for the last 20 years, but it keeps being different job titles.”

Cindy’s current role is helping to build better product develop teams within Microsoft. They need to respond to a constantly changing world and be more responsive to customer needs. Cindy talks about the importance for product teams to deeply understand customer motivations. Not just market research, not just usability testing, not just focus groups. There’s a need for teams to really use every person on the team. She says that “the best ideas come from everywhere and we really want to get teams to empower everyone to be able to speak up with an idea or raise a risk.”

Cindy is the author of the book Lean Customer Development – which is pretty specific on getting your customers to talk to you, and making people feel comfortable and be confident in speaking up. She recognized that this is really useful for your internal teams. She notes that one of the simplest tips is “just trying really hard to never ask yes/no questions. Because almost every time you do, you’re setting up a response that isn’t the constructive response.” Cindy will be going in-depth with attendees at her sessions at ConveyUX Boston.