Product Managers: Want To Work Better With Engineers? Here’s The Secret.

It’s a special episode of #Build.

Host Maggie Crowley is joined by members of Drift’s Product and Engineering teams. Meet Alexa Nguyen, Senior Product Manager, Trevor Rundell, Director of Engineering, and Peter Karl II, Lead, Product Efficiency.

The group chats through how product and engineering can work together most efficiently. That means breaking through the perception that engineers should be wholly removed from the customer. To tackle this problem at Drift, tech leads here are directly responsible for the outcomes of the products they’re working on (where at most organizations, that’s the Product Manager’s responsibility). This gives engineering more context around the products they’re building. And empowers them. They’re expected to be on the front lines answering questions from customers. Because at Drift, it’s all about putting the customer first.

So, how do we actually do this? Through a process we call “Story Time” – planning meetings that get product and engineering on the same page. In these meetings, it’s not about the nitty gritty technical details, but rather figuring out whether or not an idea will work. And more importantly, if implementing this idea will actually solve a problem for our customers.

Learn more about story time and how to get your engineering and product teams better aligned in today’s episode of #Build.

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In This Episode

0:37 – Introductions of Alexa, Trevor, and Peter
1:44 – Tech Leads vs. Product Managers
3:48 – Creating a space of forward-thinking work called “Story Time”
5:50 – When to bring an engineer into a project
6:30 – Starting Story Time with a well-defined problem
7:44 – What does the customer want?
8:36 – The team discusses their first Story Time.
10:24 – Pencils Not Pixels
11:04 – How to communicate this idea with new engineers
12:00 – What is the role of conflict/disagreement?
12:34 – Do not mistake feedback for criticism.
14:00 – How to disagree with respect
14:36 – One-on-one meetings explained
16:19 – The best PM to work with
17:18 – Practice at work
18:12 – Experience working with Drift’s co-founder
20:26 – Advice to the listeners