You may know Pivotal for their great enterprise offerings and the Pivotal tracker. Did you know they have an amazing product team as well? After connecting with PivotalLabs, Serge and I attended an “Office Hours” session a few weeks ago to learn more.
Pivotal’s Office Hours for Product is new. Every week they invite startups for a free lunch with a side of product grilling (a community service!). They get in touch beforehand to get a sense of how they can help, then spend Friday lunch brainstorming. In our case we knew (then and now) that our first “user experience” of Knotable needed a thorough shake-up.
We met Tami, Jeana and Lauren in the lobby of Pivotal’s awesome Chelsea offices. Then got straight to the main event; lunch. I picked a scrumptious mediterranean blue cheese salad. Serge had a Californian affair.
We went to a meeting room and got down to the (actual) main event. Lauren did the honors of going through a “first user experience” of Knotable, monologuing her impressions (in impressive detail) as she went. Tami and Jeana took notes and added commentary. Serge and I scrawled furiously and tried to keep as quiet as possible to avoid bias.
Once Lauren was done, we put our heads together. Tami took charge by organizing everyone’s comments into a collage of sticky notes on the whiteboard. We broke them up into roughly five categories: On-boarding Issues, Usability, Inconsistent Design, Unclear Messaging, and Expected Behavior.
That’s when things got real. We all chipped in like front row kids in school, trying to get our observations and insights on the board. There were no holds barred by the Pivotal team. Their comments were incisive and on point. Some of their feedback was familiar, but much of it was novel and illuminating. Having three fresh sets of trained eyes on our product was productive.
No sooner had we started, then it was all over. We packed up the stickies from the board, cleaned up our plates and said our farewells. Tami mentioned that teams often found it useful to return after about a month to review their progress and invited us to do the same.
We both found the experience helpful. Anyone looking to get an honest bit of constructive criticism from some of the best product people around should get in touch with Tami to set up your own free lunch.
To have your startup participate in Pivotal’s Product Office hours, apply here.
About the Author