Managing Conflict

Jul 2015 22 minutes

We spend a lot of time and effort avoiding conflict but inevitably as product managers and designers we engage in conflict on a regular basis, whether it’s dealing with other teams, giving constructive criticism or simply while engaging divergent points of view.

As the leader of user experience at Netflix and now Spotify, Rochelle King has developed a keen sense of how to enrich (and prove) design concepts with quantitative user data, and managing the conflicts that often arise in this process. In this talk at Mind the Product San Francisco she argues that agitating the creative process through conflict can lead to some really rich discussions.

First of all, conflict is exhausting. So make sure you actually understand what it is you’re fighting for and that it is a worthy cause. This is not about being contrarian or picking a fight for the sake of it.

Tips

  • Establish clearly identified success metrics. Make sure metrics are very closely aligned with what users are doing.
  • For good feedback, seek people with opposing views. Ask these people to debate your ideas and you’ll get useful early feedback in a safe environment.
  • Resolve conflicts. Validate your idea by opening your product up to users and letting the data help you decide.
  • Actively look for patterns in conflicts, or their resolution, so that you can mitigate future conflicts.
  • Engage in conflict to learn, not win. Even though you might not enjoy conflict embracing it will push you in the creative process and allow you to build better products.

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