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💥 How to make great products


This week in fintech

October 11 · Issue #76 · View online

A weekly summary of the latest news in our world of finance, design, and technology.

  • 👔 Excel as code
  • 🤔 Focus on customer experience
  • 😓 How to Say “No” After Saying “Yes”

💥 How to make great products
You don’t make great products because you want to make great products. You make great products by creating the conditions in a company where great products are produced. Therefore project, and organizational structure and incentives are an integral part of creating great products. There is a term for this called Conway’s law: “Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.” 
The prime example of this working out wrong is the Samsung Galaxy S7 which, out of the box, shipped with two email apps, two music services, two photo-viewing apps, two messaging apps, two browsers, and fighting wireless payment services. Nobody would create a product with such a terrible user experience, but a unique organizational structure, a partnership between Google, Samsung, and Verizon, enabled this conclusion.
“You will ship the org chart whether you like it or not, so make sure it works in your favor!” Dag Olav Norem, CEO Folio
I, therefore, found it interesting when I came across this survey of how Big Tech runs its tech projects. A few of the key findings include :
  • Most teams are being allowed to choose their way of working.
  • Team autonomy and high satisfaction seemed to be correlated
  • JIRA has been mentioned mostly with negative associations. Being able to get things done without working much with JIRA was mentioned as a positive. 🙊
  • Engineers lead most projects: either a tech lead or an engineer on the team taking the lead.
  • Most of them have never used Scrum or SAFe. Mostly because leveraging competent teams comes through giving them the freedom to choose how to operate.
While we’re talking about creating great products, Trond Aasen from Sparebanken Vest shares how real feedback from real customers is the best way to kill what’s not working in products: It’s the small things that matter.
Related articles
  • Why Microsoft’s Reorganization Is a Bad Idea (2013) Link
  • Apple’s Organizational Crossroads (2016) Link
I also had to add my favorite org charts from Bonkers World
I also had to add my favorite org charts from Bonkers World
👔 Excel as code
Time and time again, we come back to Excel in this newsletter. We often see that large spreadsheets are running the core of many business functions, from budgeting to product management and calculations. The fact is that Excel is the most used programming language on the planet, but virtually nobody treats Excel seriously like a programming language. I recommend reading this thought-provoking article: Excel as code
Excel is a programming language. It’s time we start treating it like one. Excel users want to keep using the power of their favourite language. They don’t need to change that. What needs to change is the idea that they are not programmers, so they can join us in using modern software practices.
🤔 Pandemic has increased focus on CX
Tink has launched a report on Open Banking in the post-pandemic world surveying senior financial executives in Europe. One of the findings is that 65% of the respondents feel that the pandemic has increased the urgency of innovation. 74% see an increased need to enhance digital services, and 70% agree that the pandemic has increased focus on the customer experience. I sincerely hope the other 30% are focusing a lot on their customer experience already 🤞!
Bain has launched their annual tech trends report where you can read more about “New Technology Economy,” Hybrid Cloud, “Semiconductor Equilibrium,” and “Taming the Wild West of DevOps” and plenty more buzzwords if that is your cup of tea. 
Every year Fast Company has its Innovation by Design Award. One of the categories is The best-designed finance projects of 2021. The winner this year is the Google Pay App. You can see the other runner-ups here.
😓 How to Say "No" After Saying "Yes"
I had to laugh when I saw this article from Harvard Business Review, but we’ve all been there:
Whether you have overbooked yourself, realized you have a conflict, or otherwise can’t or don’t want to participate in a project, it’s essential to uncommit gracefully. Doing so will keep your reputation intact and your relationships strong. Here’s how to go about saying no after you’ve already said yes with tact and professionalism.
That's it for this week 👋
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Marius Hauken, partner Stacc X
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