This week I started an exciting new job, as a manager in the Product Design group, a.k.a. User Experience group. I'll be managing a team of extremely talented designers who are working on Notes (Hannover), Sametime, Activities, and that new social networking effort that Mr. Rhodin has referred to in the past. Some of these folks I think you might know in the blogosphere. I haven't managed people since before IBM, back in my Support days, so that will be something new, too. Being in the design group won't be foreign to me, although I am not trained in the field (I'm a musician, remember?). However, I do know Notes pretty well, I've talked to plenty of customers, and I've commented on lots of design specs over the years.
As a product manager, I have always had an affinity with product designers. My ideal product progression goes from product requirements based on customer and market needs to product design, determining what it should look like and how it should behave, and on to development for implementation. Of course, often all of that happens at the same time in real life as we all iterate over the product plans, make tradeoffs on time vs. features, and generally negotiate our way to a release date. But I digress; what I mean to say is that it's not that big a leap to go from Product Management to Product Design. Both disciplines are customer and user focused and provide a different viewpoint in the development process.
In my years as a Product Manager, I have had the privilege of working on many fine products, including:
Notes Designer 4.5 - Got thrown into the first Domino Developers Conference in Anaheim (I think), doing a talk on the new calendar view and how to use it in your own apps. (I still have that backpack. :) )
Domino Designer 4.6. We added Java and embedded views and changed the name to better reflect the tool and to carve out a separate niche for it, since it had diverged far enough away from the original built-in design tool. My first Lotusphere after a few months on the job, doing presentationsto crowds of 3000. We did a 3-peat with Jen Kidder and Gary Devendorfthat year (whatever it was - 98?). Oddly, I recently got an email from admins to confirm ownership of some demo dbs I used during Frank and my view presentation - the dbs were still hanging around some Iris server and had my name on them!
Lotus BeanMachine - This product came from a group in Raleigh. I didn't have much to do with the product definition, but it was brought to market under the Lotus brand, so I helped to do that. This product was built so that non-Java programmers could actually easily create Java applets. It had a visual layout canvas onto which you put controls and did all sorts of stuff for you. I worked with Carol Jones and Chris Paul (who just hired me into my new job!). We all won an IBM Star Award for our teamwork and got a weekend in NYC for our efforts. That was fun - saw Jekyl and Hyde on Broadway and had dinner at the Rainbow Room. IBM does that stuff right!!
Domino Designer 6 - Another leap forward for Domino Designer, including db access features, more reusable elements, type ahead support in the programmer's pane, HTML handling, and lots of other little things that make life easier. I even nagged Maureen enough to add extensibility features into the product and she admitted to me that it was fun to do - she likes a challenge.
WebSphere Portal - To make a long story short, the portal market was about to explode and IBM wanted to get into it in a big way. The best way to do that was to really put all our efforts around a single solution. So, out with K-station and in with WebSphere Portal. I was around to help make the transition and to make sure that Domino and collaboration was properly represented, including integration with Sametime and QuickPlace.
Collaboration Center - The portal work also spawned another project - Annapolis. This was another one of those dream teams (I'm lucky that way!). The idea was to take some essential collaboration tools and put them into the portal. This included the People Finder (a directory lookup feature), QuickPlace and Sametime portlets and a few other misc. things. Majie worked on that one and is now a peer of mine in the design group!
Workplace Designer - When I heard that we wanted to put some effort into a new tool to address the needs of our Domino developers, but also do something new with it, I made another leap back to tools. Yet another great team was put together and we defined, built, and delivered the product pretty darn quickly, in about a year and a half. Version 2.6 is out now, in case you're wondering. :) Now, version XX is defined (you know how they are about version numbers, etc), I am even more excited about what's coming - running on Eclipse, External Data Access and Web Services support that is dumb simple to do. Domino data access, JSF-based, etc, etc. So many new features that I know our developers will be excited about, plus some surprises I need to refrain from talking about just yet.
Phew! I didn't expect to write the short history when I started, but it was fun to reminisce.
So, that brings me to this next adventure and full circle in many ways. Back to Notes. I hope you'll enjoy the ride as much as I will.
Manager : : Product Design