Why do product and design teams need to work closely together? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, enable people to learn from others and understand the world better.
Answers by Lane Shackleton, CPO at Coda, on Quora†
The main reason is simple: their work should serve the same result. Ultimately, their role is to satisfy the customer and create lasting value for the company. Here, when product and design teams align with a clear goal, they are able to create truly meaningful results for the business.
In terms of what it means to “work closely together,” I think how teams learn is a great way to predict a team’s future success. Teams that learn together can work faster than teams that don’t. For example, design and product teams should hold feedback sessions together and look at data together. Quantitative data isn’t just for product managers and design feedback isn’t just for designers. These inputs overlap to create a fabric of understanding, and that shared context is critical to making good decisions.
The alternative is when teams and people in different functions learn at different cadence or only pay attention to certain data sets related to their role. The result, of course, is that teams looking at completely different information come to different conclusions about where to go and what decisions to make.
It should be the goal of both teams to have a complete and holistic view of how customers are using the product, what’s important to them, how it progresses towards business goals, and any other important context. This means that product managers should consider design leaders as a key stakeholder at every step of the planning process. In turn, designers must share their design work early, even if it is unpolished. And leaders in both groups need to create a safe space where everyone feels good to ask any question, give and receive feedback, and be transparent about their approach to decision-making.
I also find that the most healthy product and design teams that work closely together have a low ego about who does what, as long as it’s at the service of the customer and the overall experience. At Coda, it’s common for a designer to accompany their mockups with a clearly documented set of customer issues and even product requirements. Traditionally, the spec might be something the product manager writes, but maybe the product manager is focused on helping the team in a different way. The point is that the work is aligned with the outcome of the end customer in mind, not an overly strict definition of roles and responsibilities.
When there are no silos and product and designers are focused on the same thing without egos, it gives everyone the freedom to focus on great output for customers.
This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to learn and share knowledge, enable people to learn from others and better understand the world.