Five Ps: Lead Teams & Land Products

Knowledge / Inspiration

Five Ps: Lead Teams & Land Products

Enabling the Team
UXDX Europe 2018

Designing, developing, and delivering products that provide user and business value is hard; doing it at scale is even harder. Five Ps refers to Principles, People, Priorities, Process, and Product, a framework that enables you to lead teams and land successful products. Paolo currently leads the UX teams for YouTube's Video Ads business and was previously at companies like Netflix, Mercedes-Benz, and Microsoft Xbox. Hear how this framework enabled product innovation at some of the world's most respected brands. 

Thank you. Good morning. I know it's the first morning after a late night out.
I had my coffee. So hopefully you did, as well. My name is Paulo Maldonado. And I lead the UX team for Google's YouTube Video Ads. And I'm here to share with you this framework that I've been trying to put together for the past a couple of decades, still trying to make sense of it. But hopefully, you get something out of it.
So I've been doing this for about 23 years, for a number of different companies and brands, some of which you may be familiar with. And I've gone through a lot of different product design and development processes. So if you go off and Google product development process, you might actually see a picture like this, waterfall, agile, lean design, thinking, etc. We're all trying to figure out different ways of doing what we're doing better. Often, it ends up looking more like this. There's some central idea that starts off, we get fueled by coffee. And that always ends up in argument.
So I've got my coffee, I'm ready for a good argument. And your plan rarely ever matches up with what you actually end up doing. But we all try to plan anyway. And so with all the time I've had working on different companies, different products, I've been asking myself, you know, there must be a better way to do this. I think there might, I hope there is. And I'm learning a lot from what I've done and what I've seen other people do. So a quick caveat is one of my favorite quotes. Good judgment comes from experience, and experience come from bad judgment. So hopefully, you're all the beneficiaries of my bad judgment. And I'm going to share with you the five P's. And so without further ado, here are the five P's. And oh, by the way, the reason why the five P's because my memory is horrible. And I need a mnemonic for help to help me remember anything.
Matures hasn't been this linear progression, all these twists, and turns. And I'm picking up a few things along the way. And hopefully, you can see where I've come from to tell you where I'm going. First Principles, the fundamental values, and beliefs that guide behaviors and decisions. People, the team that embodies those principles in the users or customers they serve. Priorities, what's important for the business and the people? Process, just enough structure to enable the pursuit of those priorities. And for some of you who love process, you might be surprised it doesn't come first. And product is the outcome when evaluated against the principles. And they are in order. They're not just randomly in sprinkled in this order. I actually believe it goes from principles all the way to product.
So let me talk to you a little bit, but about my experiences that lead into these. So let's start with principles. I worked at Xbox 360 from 2004, 2007, I was the lead interaction designer and information architect for the console. And I was the UX manager for the team until left in 2007. We had these design principles when we were actually designing this product, open, clear, consistent, athletic, and Mirai which is future in Japanese. And the not so well hidden sixth value is occam's razor. Which is you can see I like these little mnemonics referring to occcam's razor where the basic idea that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. And all of us who actually worked on Xbox 360 around this time kept on referring back to these principles. They actually helped guide the decisions we were making throughout the design and development of that game console. Mercedes Benz the venerable German luxury automotive brand. I led the advanced UX design studio in the Silicon Valley from 2013 to 2015. And our guiding principle is the design philosophy that the head of design set out for us This idea of essential purity, being pure expression of modern luxury.
If you think about design as this practice, that spans the spectrum of art, and science, this hues pretty strongly towards start. Moving on to people, but the team and the users, leadership matters. At Xbox, Mercedes Benz, and Netflix, I had the opportunity to work with some very larger than life leaders. And for better or for worse, leadership, sets the tone, the behaviors, the decisions that they make, how they do it, and everyone else will conform and follow their lead. A Netflix, I was there from 2015 to 2017. There are a lot of points along the path. And you can find these on the web. These are the values that Netflix looks for in the people that actually work there.
They are very explicit about it is that this is what we expect people at Netflix to be like. And now looking at the users or the customer side, I learned early on how valuable it was to be able to tell the difference between what people do and what people say. And Xbox 360, we used all these different methodologies to be able to tell the difference. We depended a lot on usability testing and heuristic evaluation as the primary methodologies. But we used a number of different ones all throughout.
In 2011, I joined Zynga, where I led a team there for 2011, 2013. And I got exposed to this missing dimension. Understanding the differences between qualitative and quantitative data to inform strategy to inform decision making. Mercedes Benz a number of different methodologies. You notice there's no AV testing, it's kind of difficult to say that dashboard design cause fewer accidents and dashboard, Design B. So we didn't do that. We did a lot of testing and simulators to get as close to that as much as we can. But we did do some quantitative in the form of service.
And then at Netflix, we had each quadrant well represented. And I learned that you have to use the right methodology to get the right kind of insight. Priorities, what's important for the business and the people? Xbox 360, was getting it ready to ship getting this thing on the shelf, and making sure that it was there for holiday 2005. It needed to be able to play games, it needed to be able to connect to the internet. And it needed to have updatable software because that's what enabled all the updates later on. So we didn't have time to putter around. Anything that got in the way of hitting those three priorities was stopped. Mercedes, we were for this particular project, what we call the F015. Luxury in motion, autonomous concept car, we were going to unveil this at CES in 2015.
We needed to hit that date, it needed to be on stage it needed to run because that was the idea for having that project to show it to the rest of the world out on the world's biggest tech stage. For Netflix, it's relatively straightforward. The priority was do what we need to do in the product to drive subscriptions up because we thought that's really the best proxy for user happiness. Are they signing up? And are they staying as members? So everything we did was in the service of one of those two things. Next process, way down the line, just enough structure. Some places it may be best to be much more process oriented. When I worked in Mercedes Benz okay, I learned that when safety is a big issue, process really does matter. But if you're in software if you're in a lot of the high tech work that we're doing today, I don't think that's where you need to start.
Flexbox it was pretty straightforward. This should look quite familiar, define iteratively designed prototype if and evaluate, and ship when you're done. As with many software development processes, it all starts on a whiteboard. I don't know what we would do if we didn't have whiteboards. You go from whiteboarding, such a high level architecture, do some detailed wireframing prototypes to actually test it. Yes, we actually prototype the whole thing in flash, just so we can actually figure out if it was working. And if it was usable. And then you ship once you pass verification. For Mercedes, the car design and development is a very traditional process been going on for a long time, there's a lot of institutional muscle memory.
Often it starts with a very beautiful concept drawing of what this thing might be. And even today, there's still a lot of very traditional art techniques that used like you would have full scale clay models being worked on, by craftsmen and artisans in a workshop. And then you iterate. Sometimes that's to refine the details, to the nth degree in the studio. This may end up in some real concept car. These are amazing pieces of industrial art, from the outside to the inside. And they're pretty fully realized. This was the concept for the S Class coupe. Stunning inside and out. If it passes muster, then you go through and actually productize it, if any of you have ever had the chance to visit a car factory, if you haven't, do so it'll give you kind of a new sense of appreciation for what it takes to actually build one of these. And to actually have them rolling off the factory floor and ship around the world. And then, if you're lucky, theres a car at the end, if not a lot of them. It's a five to seven year process.
Now imagine if that's the institutional muscle memory that you have. And you're trying to develop software as well. You've got, you know, one side that knows how to ship atoms, and the other side, they'll figure out how to ship bits. And it's a very different approach. And sometimes, you know, this transformation is a difficult one for a lot of traditional manufacturing companies. And then there's Netflix. One of the ways that Netflix does what it does that's very famous and very strict about is how we improve the product. By validating it in the wild. What I'm talking about is AB testing.
So a few years ago, we wanted to update and improve what was the netflix.com website. We started with a couple of hypotheses. One was richer assets would make the experience more interesting. And the other was a flatter page, I mean, a flatter experience would actually both of them would actually lead to increased streaming, meaning people would watch more. And retention means people will continue to be members month over month. And we designed it originally designed again, different versions. And then we built a fully functional, fully realized versions of these experiences that we ran out in the wild.
A lot of people didn't realize that they were actually inside the stats. It's a double blind, scientifically, scientific method applied in product development, to see if we saw both streaming retention and those types of things actually go up. And after going through millions upon millions of people in seeing that kind of data, we'd actually find the winner, and then we'd go and productize that. And so the netflix.com experience that you might see today is actually very similar to this. I know it's constantly being improved upon using the same exact AV testing methodology. And lastly, the product isn't good. So this is for those of you who aren't gamers or didn't know, this is actually what the Xbox 360 is. It's a gaming console that sits next year TV, free to play games. And when we look back, we're actually able to say no, we were able to do some amazing things. It's the first console that actually shipped out of the box wireless controllers. Amazing that that wasn't the case before. But that's what it is.
High definition and internet connectivity straight out of the box. A system interface that was accessible from within the game with the dedicated button on the controller. So if you actually play with a Sony console Nintendo console today, that seems like oh, well, that's the way it's done. It wasn't until we actually did it an Xbox 360. And we created the idea of the universal profile, and achievements that span game to game. Yet another thing that you take for granted now and the gaming world, but we actually invented back then
It's great when you create a product that actually shows up on the cover Time Magazine. Unfortunately, they decided the red lights were just look good, when in fact, that's an error code. FYI and they made Bill Gates look like a board. But what matters really, ultimately is sales. And this proved that Microsoft is not only willing but able to actually compete at this level with established players. Mercedes Benz this is the luxury in motion F015. The most unwieldy name for a project. This is not a render, this is actually being driven about an hour outside of Las Vegas, where we close it off piece of highway and was blocked in traffic for a while.
We designed the experience inside and out. These are large touchscreens on the saloon doors, and they were actually working, you can see the guy was kind of pressing a little hard on them because we needed to make it work. But it's mostly working. Among the things that we were most interested in exploring was, you know, in a world of self driving cars, how does a car communicate to the people outside of it, not just inside? So how do you make sure you don't get hit by a car at a four way stop? Now you look at the driver. What if there's no driver? Well, here we decided, what if the car would project a crosswalk until you do to cross. This is the can see it actually had an actual laser pointer to draw the crosswalk in front of you. That wasn't CG.
Why would we do a concept car like this? For press. What's a concept car for, it's a signal to the world that you have some interesting ideas that are actually in this case, the idea of autonomous car, the Mercedes Benz, a company that's been around since the 19th century, is actually very much as much a leader in the 21st. Thinking about autonomous driving. And getting the kind of press that gets the world to stand up and take notice. And with Netflix, here's a something's coming not so new now, but new, and when we finally unleashed it is we wanted to reduce the amount of browsing that people would do in the interface. And we introduced the idea of these automatic playing previews in the UI.
Not just because we'd like previews. It's because we wanted to see if this would actually reduce the amount of time and effort that people would take in terms of looking for something to watch. So using that same AV testing methodology I mentioned earlier, that's exactly what we did. And if you haven't watched Stranger Things, you need to, by the way, and I know it's Friday night, but go off and watch Stranger Things is an amazing show. And ultimately, you can see how that might be reflected in the subscription numbers. I think it's kind of working so far. And Netflix continues to do amazing things in the digital space. So the five P's principles, people, priorities, process, and product in that order. And now let me tell you a little bit about how I'm actually using this in my day job today. So I work at Google in Silicon Valley. More specifically, I work in the YouTube video ads business. How many people here actually have used YouTube?
I should have asked the other question, how many of you have not watched YouTube? And if you haven't, you should, you should try it out. So start with principles. For Google, it starts here. We talked about internally, we refer to these as the three respects, respect the user, respect the opportunity, respect each other. All sounds great. But one of the challenges with principles is it's relatively easy to talk about principles at the aspirational level. But part of our job as leaders is how do we actually translate that so that people can actually operationalize them. One of the ways that I do this for my team is these are the principles I've set out for my team for 2018.
So I unveiled these to my team back in December last year, designed for trust, clarity, simplicity, and insight, and innovate at scale. And of course, there's a lot more detail under each of these that I work with each of my leads on how do we want these to manifest specifically in the products that we're actually developing. Another principle I try to explain to everyone is that perfect is the enemy of good, by everyone's favorite Voltaire. I think a lot of people, and myself included in UX, we sometimes have trouble letting go of the perfect, the perfect process, the perfect idea, the perfect design. There's no such thing as perfect. It's all about making the right compromises. And this is a principle that I'm trying to make sure that I able to do on a daily basis and get my team to do as well.
There are many disciplines involved in product design and development today. Often people talk about the three primary disciplines as engineering, product management, and UX. Alright, for those of you who do this, this hopefully this sounds kind of familiar. A common metaphor that I hear used is these are the three legs of the stool. Unfortunately, in a lot of places, this is very rickety stool, not all legs are the same length. I prefer the metaphor of a big tent. And what I mean by that is not only as a tent where everyone gets together now I'm not talking about the warm and fuzzy feelings about that. But to raise a big tent, you need a nice tall tentpole. And how do you do that?
Well, a tentpole is held up by three or more very strong anchors, you can refer to each of those, each of those ropes as an engineering pm in UX. And what do they have, they're deeply anchored in their disciplines. And they're pulling very hard, equally hard on everyone else, I think you need healthy tension. Right? We in UX, need to be pulling as much as we are being pulled. And we need to have the confidence to do that. And we do that by being very strongly anchored in our disciplines. Talk about the people. There's a term that is out in the world, and even internally that's called Googly as a quality of what it means to be a Googler. And the three ways that this manifests for me, are one, we actually take the moral responsibility of what we do very seriously. We may not always agree on everything. But we care about the moral responsibly we have to the world and to each other.
The second is that, whatever it is we're doing, we'd rather make sure that we do it together. So we go out of our way to argue to talk so that we can actually all agree that this is the right thing to do. And then we go execute. And the third thing is, it's okay to have some fun while you're working. Life's too short, to take it way too seriously. These three leaders are ones that also seem to comprise my management chain. But like I mentioned earlier, leadership matters. They set the tone. They set the tone for me, and they set the tone for my team. And here's an example of us going taking afternoon off to go have fun. We had a team summit earlier this year.
We have a office in Zurich, and we all made some chocolate at the lint factory where I think I developed diabetes because I had way too much sugar. I also have this the set of qualities that I look for and and people on my team curiosity, imagination, communication, empathy, rhetoric, open mindedness, and synthesis. And because my memory again is not very good, the only mnemonic I could find was Cicero's. So it's not directly related to the philosopher. But it's a way that I could remember each of these qualities.
This is my team's purpose, to enable a healthy YouTube ecosystem where viewers watch great free content. Creators can express themselves, create community and monetise their content, and advertisers can effectively reach those viewers interested in their products and services. So we always keep in mind, what is it we're doing for viewers, traders advertisers, saw this before, we've got a very flexible way of looking at all the different methodologies to both inform and validate the work that we're doing. And one of the ways that this manifests is personas. These are in some ways the way that we represent one of those sets of users or advertisers. Priorities, I can't go too deeply into the specifics. But we use OKRs, which stands for objective and key results. Objectives, what is it that you want to do? And key results are quantifiable measures of success? It's not good enough to say we want to make the product better. How specifically, are you going to do that? What are you doing? And how are you going to measure that you actually did that?
And in terms of how we prioritize our team's work is operational work is the stuff that you need to do to keep the business going, whether it's a few $100 that you need, or the few billion dollars you need. These are the day to day things that tend to keep most teams busy. But we actually tried to carve out time specifically on foundational experimental work that might fail, that you may not see the value for a year or more. Because I feel like if you don't do that, well, you're not guaranteeing your future. For process. My team does this end to end experience for in the video advertising space, we serve the needs of all the different kinds of users they're talking about. And I've structured the team, both along the products and the different phases of the experience in this way, they can do whatever process they want.
We don't say you have to run this way. It's up to them to figure out the best way that they can work to actually achieve the goals that they set out for themselves. We're also spread out around the world. And so it's hard for us to dictate one way to do it. But one way that we make sense of it is we create this dashboard where we can actually take so it's anonymized where we see who's working on what, who's working on too much. What's the status of all these different projects? But we don't dictate how do you go about doing it. Lastly, the product. The lots of products that my team works on, I'll just share one called a product called director mix, and no better way to explain what it is and then by showing you a video.
You pay more attention to this ad if I wrote it for you. But who are you? Is this you? How can I write an ad for all the users out there? Enter YouTube director Max. With director Max, you can create one generic version of your ad and set elements to be swappable things like text, images, sound, video, and even image mapping, giving you the ability to completely customize your creative to reach specific audiences. So say you're advertising this and you want to gear it towards someone who is about to get married. Or reach a new parent or swap things out for people who are into this. Or maybe that even after launch, you can create new versions of your ad. Say the products packaging changes. It's time for a price promotion where you want to localize a version for Brazil, Germany, or any other market you can go back into the project and easily update it giving you the ability to assemble the perfect spot for any viewer so one ad for this could look like that. personalized video doesn't have to be daunting. YouTube director Max just right for you.
So how does this actually manifest for real? On early version of this tech was used by Campbell Soup and Australia.
Excited for the new season of Orange is the New Black. You will be served this if you're listening to Single Ladies, you'll see this. Sense of world politics, can't let go of Let It Go. Looking for fail videos, searching for carpool karaoke, catching up on UFC highlights, need cooking advice, New Star Wars trailer, we even created daily pre rolls related to the world's trending topics like Brexit, the Icelandic soccer team, and Pokémon Go.
Imagine creating each of those manually, it's almost impossible. They created 1700 different variations of this ad that served up different one depending on what you were actually looking for on YouTube. Results were kind of good 24% lift in Ad recall and 55% increase in sales.
Leading up to back to school Kellogg's turn to director mix, a new video builder from Google to introduce the concept of the right on rapper director makes enabled the creation of more than 110 custom six second ads, each designed as a specific response to a particular video on YouTube.
So similarly, another campaign, you find out the contextual contextually, I'm having problems with some of these longer words, contextually relevant ads, increase brand favorability and purchase intent in significant ways. And in this particular case, 2x. Lift, increase in Brand Lift, and a 3.7% increase in sales. Last example.
To drive awareness, we first served a 15 second pre roll. Next, we presented every sale product, each with its own six second bumper.
My a six second sale is on click for this incredible price. It's gone in 3, 2,1.
With literally hundreds of sale items, traditional production techniques would have been incredibly impractical in a five week time frame. Using Vogan, we're actually able to automate the process.
The user's profile were retargeted with a sequence of six second ads. Once they'd seen the offer, they'd never see it again. In partnership with Google, we'd created the first ever clickable bumper and proven that six seconds was plenty of time to drive results.
Yes, I just had to walk through a whole bunch of ads. Thank you very much. So to wrap it up, five principles in play principles, people priorities, process, and product in that order. Because I don't think that you have to start you can't start without principles first. And then making sure that what whatever it is you have at the answer is actually good. Thank you.