Paul Blunden: Welcome to another interview in my product leader series. I’m Paul Blunden, founder of UX24/7 and today I’ll be speaking with Paul Mellor. So let’s get straight to it and meet our guest.
Paul, great to see you again after the benefits of the people watching. Could you introduce yourself? Tell me who you are, what you do? The organization work for, etc.
Paul Mellor: Yeah, sure. So my name’s Paul Mellor. I’m an independent contractor these days and consultants. So I guess role would be owner, founder, director, whatever you wanna label yourself when you spin up a Limited company, I guess.
The badges I usually go for when I attend conferences, the things that you know typical, I had a value or a product, and agile guy seems to be the thing that I mainly introduced myself as so my company is called.
It’s slack, limited, and that’s an interesting name. A lot of people kind of screw their face up when I say that. And it’s basically the result of a brainstorming session that happened off the back of me being asked for a company name and I know a lot of people go, for you know Paul Miller consulting services and things like that, and I just thought I wanted it to be a little bit more than that. So I ended up writing a load of words on a board rearranging them all and coming up with something that was a bit of an acronym. So it’s things like product.
So it’s PSVA, so that product, simplicity, value, agility, you know, knowledge and things like that. And I actually told that story to somebody once at a conference, and within 30 seconds she turned to a colleague of mine and went. He’s a bit boring this guy and say so, Bob told. Anyway. In fact, she had a she had a kind of vanity metric at that conference, apparently meeting every single person there, and there was 300 people there. So I I’m hoping that her comment was to get rid of me so she could move on to the next person.
Paul Blunden: Good stuff! Well, I must say I love a name like that. II looked to the stars when I was doing it myself, and came up with a name that way, but I also find the ones that a person’s name are a little bit boring. So yeah, good for you.
Paul Mellor: Yeah, I guess in terms of what I do. And so I’ve got a background in in delivery and product. Hence me being on this call and I think why I tried to do these days and have been doing for the last couple of years is to is to really help businesses with their product, deliver it so that may be kind of interim products, ownership, slash management. It may be helping them with how they’re delivering that scrum, master, agile delivery and the things that really interest me. That really kind of get me going the things where people want to introduce product or try and optimize ahead of scaling. Really, try and get a good product practice in place so that they’re delivering good valuable products and making the most of the money. Basically. So that’s kind of where I tried to help.
Paul Blunden: And how long have you been working in the product area, and what attracted you into it?
Paul Mellor: I guess I’ve always sort of worked in product. So formerly, I would say 11 years. That’s when I first ended up bagging a product roll.
I’ve always kind of been interested in in the delivery of value, which is what product is ultimately delivering value to somebody. So you know, I’ve had roles in development. I’ve had roles in professional services implementing solutions, obviously so as a stakeholder of a product and a and a kind of representative of our customers.
But then, 11 years ago, I kind of got into proper product roles. So you know, product, consultant product, owner of head of products had many hats with regards within the product space.
And since what attracted me to it is just that that interesting value and ways of working, and I’ve always been the sort of person who wants to make things better so wants to deliver more value, wants to deliver that value in a better way. I think human beings are inherently lazy. You know we are by default, and so I was always the sort of person who would look at something, see how it could be better see how we could do things better. See if we could provide services better.
When I when I knew about this question, I started thinking back to all the different things that that kind of fall into that arena. So you know, back in the day I was writing like and development environment plugins that would kind of spin up things so that we didn’t have to write code from scratch, you know, is that constantly involved in best practice and delivery methodologies and implementing changes as the businesses that have been part of grown and then, I guess you know, II was part of a business that that was a startup that scaled. And through that process I kind of I went through a journey with a business where we didn’t grow quickly. We were very sales let and that came with lots of lots of difficult problems in terms of chasing the next sale.
The product grow in kind of indiscriminately in different directions, based on the need of the latest customer. It became hard to support, maintain upgrade and in the background I was always trying to work with the team to sort of package that stuff up, simplify and productize it way before I even knew what product was. And so I moved around it, did a couple of the consultancy roles, and then actually kind of then got brought back into that business in a product capacity.
And we kind of made up her, because again, product management was kind of a thing back then. But it wasn’t as prevalent as it is today and we made up a job title of products an innovation consultant or product strategy and innovation consultant just to sort of put a product name on it. And over 12 months kind of figured out what we wanted to do. And that was how I got into product. It was basically taking all that on a natural behaviour and stiff stuff that I cared about, and eventually just realized that it was ultimately product.
And then and I guess what I love about product today is the product. Thinking can be quite simple. It it’s not, you know, we’re in an industry that you know, we’ve got to create things to keep selling. Get right? But it’s quite versatile and simple. So I think, you know, if you, if you boil it down to just delivering value you can apply that to products.
But you can apply that to practices. So I always see a product practice, IE. Function within a business as a service. You’re providing a service to the rest of the business and out to your clients, and you can apply a lot of the same methodologies and frameworks and ways of thinking to get the most out of that stuff. And I’m not as a human being. I’m a bit nerdy life as a human being. I’m a product writer. I have engagements with people. I provide experiences and, you know, on a day to day basis. I try and think about how I can be better, how I can improve myself.
And now I’m working for myself. Certainly I need to. I am the product ultimately, and I need to make sure I’m going out there and increasing my value, and so that so II can boil it down to these really simple things, but they can be applied across the across the piece, across most areas of your life. And I kind of love that yeah. And how simple that could be if you can keep it. That simple life’s simple keeping it tipples bad. Right?
Paul Blunden: Well, II like the thinking particularly that, you know, applying it to yourself. And of course you obviously realize that consulting you all the product on you. And it’s interesting. You say you’ve been in it 11 years, and the way you describe, you know. Oh, coming up with roles and everything.
I think this is funny thing with digital. I’ve done really interested. But for anybody who’s came into product 11 years ago, when really. I mean, it seems like the function it kind of wasn’t really, and only feels like it’s still not very organized. Now, you know, roles are different, and everything else that evolution over time really interested in your view on how the functions changed, and has it become more professional, or is it still the Wild West? Or you know, how does that all work?
Paul Mellor: well, it’s interesting from my own perspective of it is cause I cause I you know. Obviously, 11 years ago, I wasn’t really aware of product management. II think a lot of these things, agility, product management.
They’re all kind of common sense. And eventually we stick labels on. So I don’t know if these labels were put on things that yeah, I know agility’s been going around for 30 odd years. Right? You know, how do you have ways of working?
I only became aware of them. Maybe some 8, 9 years ago. But I realized that a lot of the things I was doing. We’re kind of common sense. And we were so doing them. We just didn’t have a common language to describe them.
And so I guess, and also obviously the in terms of a kind of software products world, it’s massively changed. So back when I started in this stuff that I was on Prem, kind of big, monolithic kind of platform slash product portfolios that were, you know, really hard to upgrade. You had, you know, probably come onto this. You know the degrees of separation between the end user and also the time to value the time to get that out to market. Get it to those users.
It was just huge, right and so back. Then it was very much you were. You were kind of. It was still a little bit waterfall. You were doing. What you were thinking was best for the customers and the market, and you know there wasn’t a lot going on in terms of research.
I think when you were dealing with customers, you were dealing with senior stakeholders and not the end users. So you were selling and designing solutions for heads of. And you know, managers and people like that, and focusing on what they wanted, and not necessarily what their customers necessarily needed, and also what the users of the system, because we were implementing solutions into kind of like a back office departments and contact centers and stuff like that. And the users was never really a huge concern, although once those things were implemented. We would start getting that feedback if we hadn’t moved on to deliver the next sale right? Nobody got distracted you know, so that iteration, that kind of constant feedback, was never really a thing. It might have been part of a either a uat phase or a post. Go live, warranty period way, going back and you checking, and you doing reviews and things like that.
So obviously now. I think, though the roles massively different. The way do we deliver things out to customers is hugely different. You know. Things are in the cloud. You’ve got sas solutions, you know, getting things out there and actually learning is much, much better, I think also, as a result of that, everything kind of coming closer together and things happening more regularly. It’s become a lot more complicated. And I think with that complexity has come a whole load of new roles as well.
So you know as I’ve learned more about products. You know, this product owners, this product managers. You’ve got ux designers. You’ve got product designers you’ve got, you know, all these different roles which all kind of massively overlap. And there’s, you know, it is a kind of there’s a complexity. So how those people interact, what their expectations of each of those roles is, you can move from business to business, and those roles mean different things. And then you’ve got all the different frameworks and the tools. And I think the complexity around the product space has grow as kind of growing exponentially in terms of that complexity, and it can be quite hard to navigate. So there’s this definitely pros and cons I think the yeah.
But we but we definitely closer to the user now. And I think that’s the great thing. You know, you can now build a product, and how pretty much anybody in the world using it within a matter of a week. It’s not just kind of like a couple of on prem solutions, one in Burnley and one in, kinda not in government, you know you’ve got maybe a few 100 users, and then you’ve got another big sale before you can get a couple of more 1,000 done and stuff like that. I think that I think that’s really cool.
And obviously there’s a there’s a massive trend towards more kind of outcomes over output these days, and I love that, you know, moving away from what voltage always work. And you’re definitely able to sort of say, we want to move the needle rather than we just wanna churn out these features and things regardless of whether people are really gonna use them. And if they actually don’t use them because of the way we deliver this stuff, we can’t really do much about it, because, hey, we have not the data or people are stuck on a version, because it’s heavily customized, and we can’t get that thing out to them.
And so I think that it’s much better these days in terms of that constant delivery out to customers. There’s more experimentation that we can do. There’s more collaboration that we can do. It’s a hell of a lot more fun. And so it’s quite an exciting place to work now it’s just hard to keep up. I guess that’s the challenge, right?
Paul Blunden: It is. It is. I mean, it’s been fascinating with these interviews. I mean, a number of things. Resonate you like. I’ve spoken to product managers. I spend product owners, and they’re pretty much describing the same thing as their job. And you know, when you say there’s overlaps I’ve I find that really challenging. But I like I like the idea of the evolution you describe. It sounds like. you know, because we’re closer to the customer through the agile and everything else. And you mentioned data as well. Just feel like we’ve got. The product has more tools to be closer to the customer. Almost. Not only the product they’re selling, but the other things around it. And You talked a little a bit about product then, and agile. I mean, you’ve worked in a number of different environments clearly. But I’d like you talk a little about bit about more, more time with the customer really interested to understand a bit about the kind of barriers or keep challenges. Maybe product, people face or product managers. Face when you said is difficult to navigate, feels like there’s more organizational stuff. But maybe other things going on.
Paul Mellor: Yeah, I think things have sort of observed over the years. Think one of the main challenges kinda like the legacy mind sets as well as the legacy systems. You know the legacy systems are a problem. Because. you know, there’s lots of this people who spent years building things. They’ll have a variety so that the installed version index. So at this kind of range of things, of versions of a product that are out there, that very sticky and hard to upgrade. And there’s all this stuff that’s out there that it kind of really embedded in clients.
And I think one of the challenges is, how do we actually, how do we protect ourselves from a start up just coming. And, you know, beating us, putting us out of business. How do we convince our own business to maybe spin that up ourselves and look for a successor? Or how do we?
How do we pull that thing apart? How do we, you know, try and move it into the cloud. Decompose it out, you know, there’s these legacy systems that you know they’re so ingrained in everything that we’ve done for the last 30 years. It’s hard to make decisions around what we do with that. And I think that’s a really hard problem to solve you know this, this recognized pr practices, you know. I think it’s like the 6 h around moving to cloud around. you know. Re platform and refactoring, you know. Re-s hosting. I know that we’ve sort of tried that in the past.
And when you make the decision to just say, lastly, it’s not really worth it. We maybe just need to build something new from scratch, because the world has moved on that long. And how do we manage those relationships and end of life things, and you know and go through that whole process and be have the confidence to do that. I think that’s a real challenge moving back to the mindset thing as well is, you know, you want to get closer to users. You want to make teams autonomous, and I think that you know where you got businesses where people have been around for a while. You still got that command and control. You’ve got hero developers. You’ve got control in senior leadership team it just drives decision latency. And you know, you’ve got the kind of gatekeepers and I was just really interested in examples over the last few years where I worked for one business where they were. They had service blueprints. They had ux people but and they operate in a really good way.
But there was some. some journeys that they were doing and some of their online journey journeys where decisions around what a particular screen would look like would have to go up about 3 levels with pre meets, and then another meeting, and then a gate, and it was literally around where something should be on a screen and it took weeks to get a decision. And actually, that decision wasn’t based on anything to do with how it might affect the journey where it might remove friction. It was literally based on ultimately a goal that a stakeholder had around a number they had to hit.
And I think that getting businesses to move away from that and actually really empower the teams is something that’s a massive challenge. And you know, from a product perspective, we want to move quickly. We want to simplify things down. We want to learn fast and remove all those kind of degrees of separation from the user. Give, give more power to people to experiment and learn. Knowing that that’s the right thing in the longer term. So I think. And that’s a real challenge. You know, the big, the bigger and me, too. The business is, you know, the more you’re gonna have that.
And you know it just comes to, you know, think these days, because of all the different roles as well as you. You kind of end up in a situation where you’ve got Guy. Almost like too many cooks products. People have a lot of people to keep happy.
It’s particularly interesting when you get into scaling all your mer. You’ve got a business has been acquired, and it’s merging with a logic group or a larger organization and so much going on. And then you get become part of a bigger group. And then there’s more going on. And everybody wants to know what’s going on. So you end up with layers of communication overhead and frameworks in place and product. Managers have to update 15 different artifacts with the same information, and it just becomes a bit of a of a nightmare and we can come on so how AI might solve some of those problems. Yeah, you know. So there’s lots of people to keep happy.
I mean, there’s a number of tools and practices and frameworks you can use these days as well. It’s figuring out how you can sort of settle things down. Not so you get some sort of stability while still being agile and changing. It’s what you’re changing, and how regularly, rather than changing everything all the time. I think people kind of getting a bit of a model with all that. And I mean those organizational things you’re describing. And
Paul Blunden: it sounded to me a lot like big company things. And you kind of said. It’s harder in big company, but you’ve been in small startups as well. Do you have those same issues where people are you know, hero or wedded to their idea, or my way or not? Or how do you know, is it different in startup environment? Is it more agile?
Paul Mellor: We start start ups of the thing I mean, you know when I worked in a small organization like, you know, 1011 people, it was one of the most fun times of my career. It’s hard work, you know. It’s like 40’clock in the morning things. There’s a lot of chaos, a lot of running round, but it was kind of the sort of environment you almost want to create in an agile team.
Everybody’s helping each other out. Everybody’s not, you know. Nobody’s going last. Not my job, you know. You’re all kind of pulling together. You’re going above and beyond and I think that that’s the sort of thing you need to create. And however, over time, as that business grows, those key people end up becoming those hero Devs, all those hero leaders. And you know, they struggle to let go. You know. So it does cause some problems think that. Yeah, you know. And it’s hard, right? You, wanna especially if this this change going on, people’s people will kind of lock down themselves and become a little bit scared and see that volume what they know and the things they can control.
Whereas that to the real value is to teach everybody else what you know and let them perform. And you kind of been responsible for enabling that yeah, that can be. That’s an interesting thing to see and also what you end up with. That is you end up with a business that you know it’s very hard to go off and pay your technical debt and folks on quality when you’re in those sorts of environments. And I think the successful startups and ones that really do go on to do well are ones that have that in mind, or at least make it transparent. Stick on the board and say, we need to pay this stuff off at some point and then every day you’re looking at it and going still. Not pay that off paying what you know because if you don’t, you know, 2 things will happen. It’ll either cripple you up, and you’ll deliver no value, or and one of the things one of my proudest moments was sorting something out around this was, you get acquired by a bigger business. That’s got much, much more demand on your quality, and is maybe regulated to a higher standard and all that kind of stuff. And then, all of a sudden, you’ve got a mammoth job on your hands to even just get to a point where that business you’re in line with what is needed to continue to sell that software.
Paul Blunden: Now you mentioned AI, and as possibly a solution to some of these things, worry your thoughts on that that it does seem to calm down a bit this time last year. I mean it. It went crazy but it feels like it’s been more thoughtful now. So really interested to ask you.
Paul Mellor: yeah, I mean, it’s a hot topic. I mean, like the headline for me is, it’ll either save us or destroy us. It’s going to be one of those things. And I think that it’s just going to be for me. I mean, you know there’s loads of stuff out there now about, I think I think we’re getting to the point where. Yes, it was a very hot topic, and there was loads of stuff out there around. You know, it’s gonna be the end of the world. And everybody’s jobs are gonna disappear and think we started to realize that it’s maybe somewhere in the middle of what we had 3 years ago. And maybe you know the end of the world. Sort of stuff think the there’s a there’s a I’ve got a few quotes on this.
So cause I’ve been looking into I recently. Every now and again I’ll sort of read something else. I’ll jot it down, and it’s a Alfred North. Whitehead is a philosopher. I’ll just have to read this out, so I don’t get it wrong. Civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them. Right? So. And that’s ultimately what AI is kind of going to be doing for us short term, right? It’s going to be a going to be doing a lot of things that are more complicated than things we use to be able to automate. So we can now free ourselves up to do more thinking and civilization should advance in theory. According to that guy.
Paul Blunden: It’s a good quote.
Paul Mellor: and there’s a couple of others, you know. It’s think that, you know, there’s a lot of stuff fear mongering around it as well. And yeah, there’s definitely things to be concerned about. But again, another quote, and I use this this 2 quotes right? Very similar. One’s nothing to say but fair itself not. Roosevelt is inauguration that everybody knows that one, and then just not Sendika. And this is like, you know, and the Greek philosopher. Many are hound by fear itself, and many have come to their fate while dreading fate right? Ultimately it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. Right? If you’re scared of something and you’re worried about things, your behaviour ultimately drive you to that destiny.
I think that with AI, I think what we need to do is not be so scared of it. Look how we can embrace it, learn from it, use it to our advantage, and ultimately, it’s not what you could do about. It’s gonna happen right? So mine, why not kind of get in there, get involved and form some of your own opinions on it rather than just reading stuff that’s out there on the Internet.
Paul Blunden: Yeah, I think you’re so right. And of and of course. it’s possible to get in there and form an opinion because you can actually access it, which is so unusual with technology like this.
Paul Mellor: But you know, it’s another one of those sort of create destruction things, you know. When cars turned up, the horse industry disappeared. You know, it’s like when the Internet turned up, everybody was worried. You know this, these cycles really some significant things, and all that happens is for everything that disappears. You know, you Co put head off and to grow back, you know, so hopefully, AI will actually no, you know, for everything that they kind of automate. So it takes off our hands. It’ll free us up to have the creativity so to do much more wonderful and amazing things all just go on holiday, you know, for 12 months of the year.
Paul Blunden: which would be yes, nice as well. Now. I wanted to ask before we have to wrap up. I’ve got a few more questions, but I don’t wanna forget to ask you about sort of the challenges product leaders face around research. We’re a research agency. It’s something is passion. I’m very passionate about and you’ve talked a bit about, you know in many ways about the evolution of thinking toward users. So I’m just really interested in your views on that. What? What are the challenges? People faced it all brands customer centric these days? How does that all fit into your world?
Paul Mellor: Thank you. It’s interesting. So it’s massively important to get the customer involved in what you’re building right? Because ultimately we’re all just guessing we’re all wrong most of the time. Right, you know, so we can be designing things and throw out there. And we’ve got it all completely wrong. And you know, and it’s important, from the point of view of putting costs, minimizing risk you know, and getting them evolved at the other end of things and validating that value.
I think that a challenge sometimes is. And you know, everybody’s starting to do it right. So we get in user researchers. We’ve got UX. People and I think that there’s lots that can be done in that space. I think the challenge is gang good people. I think, getting clarity on what they should be doing and where they should be focused. I think user research in particular, it’s a at the minute. It’s very interesting, because it is something that maybe takes quite a lot of effort.
Your desk research maybe not so much. But if you’re going out and you’re surveying customers and engaging with them. You can either need to gonna get expensive external resource. You’re gonna need to spend a lot of time kind of planning your cohorts, getting your scripts together, analysing all the information you get back. And this is, you know, on the on the qualitative side. And that and that takes time, and ultimately what they’ll do is that almost be treated as a project, and you’ll do as a one off. You’ll get all your research, and there might be a bit of a summary written up that maybe half the product manages. See, although maybe a bit of the team sees, I guess, stuck on a shelf and then forgot about. We’re out with some reason research, and off we go. And it’s the challenges of making it part of the kind of DNA of the team. Getting them close to the user, getting them exposed to the user, doing the research themselves, you know, experimenting, giving, having maybe some ux and use research expertise in the business, but having them give them some clear goals is to sort of propagate that knowledge out. So at least everybody’s got a rough understanding of how to do it, and then your discovery and your kind of delivery can kind of start overlapping that kind of dual track stuff.
And I think that the challenge is getting there. People who want to dedicate to do it and don’t want to maybe share the knowledge. That thing again. But no, that’s my job. I’ll do that, and I’ll control it and then funding it. Sometimes, you know, there’s lots there’s lots and lots of different challenges. I think the biggest one is actually doing stuff with it sometimes. And I’ve been in businesses where I found loads of user research that nobody even knows is there. And you kinda like, you know, so think making sure there’s a next action making sure action is taken from the research and making sure that you know you kind of doing it constantly and revisiting it. Thing, you know, is something that. But again, it’s just down to this. I think it’s getting to the point where people are seeing the value in it so that they can justify as you’re going out and doing. And in terms of AI, you know, hopefully, a lot of that stuff will be a lot easier to process.
It’ll help you write in your surveys, you know, if you can give it some good and contextual priming, you know, by, you know I don’t know passing in certain personas, or even getting it, to write some pro to personas. If you just kicking off passing that back in with some, you know, contextually prime that ami model and then feed it stuff that’s gonna maybe give you the right thing out, or then process that stuff you’re getting back with it prime towards the people.
So, people you’ve asked it’ll just speed everything up hopefully, a little more valuable. But we need to make sure as product people and as ux people that we are. You know that the manual effort becomes more important, any sort of automation the manual bit becomes really important, and that’s gonna be where we really need to sort of switch our focus is to making sure that these things that we’re automating and that we’re relying on, we’re actually sort of sense checking it. And Qa, and it. That’s where the value for us is going to be.
Actually adding things like principles and go practice and some human element to it, because things driven by data, you know it’s not. It’s a double edged sword in my opinion.
Paul Blunden: I completely agree with you. It’s really interesting. I think your challenge is bang on We see it all the time, actually, with organizations funnily enough, once they do what you, you’ve suggested, you know, get people involved in it and or democratize is the big word these days. Research. They start doing a lot more of it. And their biggest issue then becomes the quality.
It’s you know. How do you deal with all of the stuff around it? It’s just which is kind of good problem to have, but because at least people are buying in.
Paul Mellor: but yeah, I think there’s a lot of problems like that. People do things because they know they need to be doing them. But this sometimes don’t even understand why, and also don’t understand how to make the best of their time doing it. you know. Yeah, so yeah, so yeah, it’s a yeah, just getting that focus and be like aware that you need to get that focus and real value out of things rather than just kind of box ticking.
Paul Blunden: good. Good. Well, it can. I’ve been taking a lot of your time, and I got 2 more questions. If you can afford them. Well, they I’d really like to hear about a pro related success story that you’re particularly proud of. I was most of my guests, that and the stories have been fantastic.
Paul Mellor: Yeah, I mean well, I can’t promise you a fantastic story. but I think that the one of the biggest or the longest achievements I think I had. So when I was part of. I was part of a start up that grew got acquired, and we were acquired by quite a risk, averse visit, business. I had a series of worked in the financial sector and a series of some very stringent policies and procedures.
They were regulated and also at the same time GDPR was coming in. So we ended up with quite serious projects on our hands but basically comply with a regulated Plc., a very stringent set of quality and security policies and also deliver GDPR. Compliance and Pci compliance within a quiet time timeframe. And so that was it reasonably ploughed to get through that there’s a lot of hard work from a lot of people, and it was a quite a slog.
But we did it. We did it ahead of schedule. And also we ended up with a product that you know had a had a lot of issues to be resolved. But it ended up with, you know, the maintainability ratings on the code base were exceptional, and the defects ratios and the classification of defects was extremely good.
And the product was, you know, we ended up with a very, very good product that that could still be sold and it was much higher quality, and we managed to service our existing clients and wind new clients off the back of that. And that was a that was that was, that’s a so proud well, just feel like it was a big achievement, considering where we were when we started that process. I think more recently, kind of my first contract was me moving into E commerce and think I use the word ballsy move was most of that gig was taking stuff out.
So feature bloke realizing that, you know, having the ability to see that actually adding features is sometimes not the right thing and the user experience and the metrics around that product set improved as a result of that. Help them to build a path to maturity. Help them out with some tendering, maturing, some tender processes that we’re going through with some vendors and also mentioned a few people who ended up becoming full time product managers at the end of it, and that that was that I like seeing other people succeed. So seeing people getting jobs that they want the back of the work that I do with them. That’s a proud moment as well.
Paul Blunden: Yeah, I’m not surprised. It’s almost inherent in being a product person. I think you’re building things. And when you see other people building their careers off of your mentoring? I think it must be very rewarding.
And finally, did you share your biggest learning since you started working in the product area.
Paul Mellor: And it’s back to that. I I’m probably wrong. That’s the thing I’ve learned. We’re all probably wrong, right?
I when I was. I don’t know if it’s because I’m in my middle age now, in my kind of my Eq’s, and it’s prime, and but I think that I’m starting to realize and and product has kind of taught me this so that it is product related. And we’re all probably a bit wrong. And I think that you know we’re all guessing. I mean, even your brain is making most stuff upright. I mean the the signals from your eyes. Take about 50 per second to get to your brain. So you’ve got your brain’s constantly making stuff up. You never really see what’s on it. So with that in mind, you know you. Ca, and also you look at some of the things. You know. You’ll guess what people want out your product. You’ll be wrong.
And people thought the world was flat. We know things like that. I was reading something the other day, apparently high blood pressure used to be a sign of good health until the early nineteenth century. And another thing people with epilepsy people used to think that epilepsy was contagious. In like the 19 thirties, 19 forties. There’s all this stuff where you know, common knowledge doesn’t necessarily mean is right. But yeah, and I think that if you, if you approach the world like that, and you approach your users and your customers like that. That you’re probably wrong, and even your colleagues you end up with that little bit of humility and humbleness I used to be when I was younger. I was like, I’m right. Here’s the way we doing it, you know, and I’d argue the point. I’d argue the toss over being right until the cows came out.
And I’m just completely the opposite end of the spectrum now, because I recognize that. And it’s through working with good teams, collaborating more, getting closer to users, reflecting, you know, treating myself as a product, reflecting, adapting, trying to improve myself. Because ultimately yeah, we’re all a little bit wrong most of the time. I think that’s a Manson quote. There’s a really good book called and I think there might be a Netflix documentary about called the Solar of not giving an F the UK. One of his books, talks about the fact that yeah, just you know you’re probably wrong. And there’s a whole chapter on it.
And so that’s the biggest lesson that I’ve learned, probably over the last 5 to 10 years is just shut up a little bit, Paul. But by arguing the task, and I still listen to all the people think, yeah, that’s a big lesson I’ve learned.
Paul Blunden: Cool. Thank you. That’s a brilliant lesson. And I gotta say, having spoken to, for you’ve been so generous with your time has been to you. Very well. Now I think the lady who met you at the conference, and described you as boring was probably wrong. It was just a story about my company name.
Paul Mellor: Well, like, I say, I’ll take comfort in the fact that she just wanted to go in and meet the next person. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure really interesting. And yeah, best of luck. Wherever the rest of your agile career takes you like very much and the same to you.
Paul Blunden: Well, what an interesting interview! Paul was incredibly generous with his time, and, in fact, we spoke more about Ux and Ux research afterwards. He’s got some really interesting thoughts.
If you want to know more about ux research while we and anything we know about product feel free to get in touch. You can do that with me on LinkedIn. I’m Paul Blunden, founder of UX24/7 and you can find me there or come to our website. That’s UX247.com
or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’ve got something to share. Please get in touch. I’d love to interview you as part of the series on product leaders. And in the meantime thank you very much for watching.