The Pragmatic Product Professional

1177e050db6bafe62885362edf6e3537?s=47 Laura Van Doore
October 31, 2019

The Pragmatic Product Professional

In 1999 a now infamous book called The Pragmatic Programmer was first published, and the mindset it introduced took the software development world by storm. After 20 years, a flick through the pages shows it’s filled with timeless advice that, with a little bit of examination and re-interpretation, can help anyone nurture a pragmatic product mindset.

Pragmatic product people are early adopters & fast adapters. They are inquisitive, critical thinkers and Realistic. The quintessential Jack-of-all-trades.We’ll explore the essential traits of a pragmatic product person, re-interpret the practical learnings from the book into a modern product context, discover many insightful parables along the way, and learn how we can approach all angles of modern product development with a pragmatic mindset to improve the way we work with our teams to build amazing products.

This presentation will be an enjoyable & compelling journey on how software programming techniques that were written 20 years ago, can be seamlessly applied to modern product design practices in organisations today.


Laura Van Doore

October 31, 2019


  1. 2.
  2. 3.

    How could a book about programming written 2 decades ago

    be applicable to modern product development? @lauravandoore
  3. 5.

    Solving problems in a sensible way that suits the conditions

    that really exist now, rather than obeying fixed ideas, theories or rules. Pragmatic Adjective @lauravandoore
  4. 7.
  5. 8.
  6. 10.

    They think beyond the immediate problem and place it in

    a larger context Trait #1 BIG PICTURE THINKER @lauravandoore
  7. 11.

    They work with the chess pieces that are on the

    board, rather than the resources they wish they had Trait #2 DEEPLY REALISTIC @lauravandoore
  8. 13.

    They deeply care about their craft, and actively invest in

    new skill development Trait #4 SKILLED CRAFTSPERSON @lauravandoore
  9. 15.

    Big picture thinker Realistic Inquisitive Skilled Craftsperson Test & Learn

    Mindset Pragmatic Product Mindset Traits @lauravandoore
  10. 19.

    The limits of languages influence how you think about a

    problem The Pragmatic Programmer @lauravandoore
  11. 20.
  12. 22.

    SPEAK MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE • Customers • Engineering •

    Product Management • Design & UX • Business @lauravandoore
  13. 25.

    A chemical substance that can be added to a reaction

    to increase the reaction rate without getting consumed in the process Catalyst Noun @lauravandoore
  14. 26.

    Be a catalyst Imagine this scenario: • You have a

    really clear picture on how to make positive change • You've got a great grasp on the resources you'll need, and how to bring it all together. • It’s a slam dunk @lauravandoore
  15. 27.

    Be a catalyst • But when asking for permission to

    get started, you’re met with delays and blank stares • People form committees • Budgets need approvals • Everyone starts to guards their resources @lauravandoore
  16. 37.

    BE A CATALYST People find it easier to join an

    ongoing success @lauravandoore
  17. 38.
  18. 39.

    BE A CATALYST Sometimes people aren’t aware of the value

    they can contribute (They don’t know what they can bring to the pot) @lauravandoore
  19. 40.

    Be a catalyst by helping the people around you see

    an exciting possible future, with a clear path for how they can contribute @lauravandoore
  20. 42.

    Your knowledge & experience are your most important professional assets.

    Unfortunately, they’re expiring assets. The Pragmatic Programmer @lauravandoore
  21. 43.

    INVEST IN YOUR KNOWLEDGE PORTFOLIO Diversify The more areas you

    have knowledge in, the more valuable & adaptable you are. @lauravandoore
  22. 44.

    INVEST IN YOUR KNOWLEDGE PORTFOLIO Manage risk Tech skills exist

    along a spectrum from risky, potentially high-reward to low-risk, low-reward skills. @lauravandoore
  23. 45.

    INVEST IN YOUR KNOWLEDGE PORTFOLIO Buy low, sell high Learning

    emerging technologies or methods might be risky, but it pays off for early adopters who can end up dominating that area. @lauravandoore
  24. 46.

    Manage your knowledge investments in a similar way to how

    you would manage a financial portfolio @lauravandoore
  25. 48.

    PUSH FOR PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION You can’t design perfect software

    There’s no single correct answer when building new features & products. ‘Perfect’ is dependant on the eye of the beholder. @lauravandoore
  26. 49.

    PUSH FOR PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION Plan to adapt and iterate.

    Permanently. Customers needs are always evolving, usually needing more and more sophisticated functionality. Product is never done. @lauravandoore
  27. 50.

    Speak more than one language 1 Be a catalyst 2

    Invest in your knowledge portfolio 3 Push for progress over perfection 4 @lauravandoore
  28. 53.
  29. 54.

    No one from Brazil has purchased our product, people must

    not be interested. Later, user research showed their checkout form validation didn’t allow Brazilian postcodes to pass
  30. 55.

    Carve stones, but think cathedrals Focus on where the big

    picture meets the detailed implementation.
  31. 56.

    When in doubt ask the duck Rubber duck debugging is

    popular with devs, but is handy for other teams too