Sep 22, 2020

Entering product design – Chapter 6: Narrow collaborator

Similar minds challenge nothing from each other.

It’s more comfortable to surround yourself with people with a similar mind. There is a reason you love to hang out with your best friend. Maybe you shared a similar background, memories, or beliefs. You already build that common ground for years.

On the other hand, when you meet new people, you will start from the surface. You’d try to understand what she does for a living, what she thinks of a particular topic, or you might be curious about her background.

Getting to know new people with different backgrounds and mindset requires more time and energy. A similar situation could occur when you are working in a team. When you work with a product manager or an engineer, you’ll realize not only their disciplines are very different from you, but they also have a diverse background in their life.


A few product designers are very comfortable around the researcher or content strategist because they share a similar mindset. This attitude creates a subgroup collaboration and neglects the other part of the team.

I also observed that a few product designers would be good at collaborating with their product managers but detached from their researchers or engineers.

You get the idea. It’s what I called a narrow collaborator – that is when the product designer decided to engage with a small portion of the team closely.

I must say, it’s not easy to jump into the team and suddenly collaborate with everyone. Even the seasoned product designer will gradually move from this state to the radical collaboration.

The consequence of this attitude is a narrow perspective baked into the work, often resulting misalignment in the team. For example, the solution might be valuable for the customer and viable for business, but not the most optimal one for the goal because the feasibility is heavy to develop.

The interpretation of the problem and effort will be different when you think alone compared when you feel together with everyone in your team. The more context you get, the harder your job will be to connect the dots – but that’s the reality. You can choose to avoid it, but in the end, your team must face it. The quantity of the ideas contributed to the solution will different too. A probability of success will increases as you collaborate with the right people in the room.

Imagine how you would create product marketing if you don’t have any expert in the room who understands the constraint and the best approach to market your product into a specific audience.


What’s stopping you from inviting legal, marketing, engineers, or business team into your thinking session?

Challenge yourself to broaden up the participation in your thinking process.

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