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Three's company: A proven model for good development (Uday Gajendar)

Three's company: A proven model for good development (Uday Gajendar)

This presentation highlights our beloved '3-in-a-box' model that we have introduced internally at Citrix, a 20+ year old enterprise software company, to foster cross-disciplinary partnership and thus, innovation. Our model of a 'box' represents a kind of pressure cooker, a forcing function that compels the core domains of Engineering, Product Management, and User Experience to bond closely from end-to-end on a project in a very tightly communicative and collaborative manner, to get positive results.

By way of an intense ten-month effort in Spring 2011, our team of Product Management (PM) and Product Design (PD) Directors, led by strong UX vision from our Principal Designer, achieved a breakthrough design for presenting Windows 7 on an iPad. The stakeholders rallied in a '3-in-a-box' fashion, where everyone participated and shared in the delivery of a compelling user experience. Together, the team shipped a product in about half of the time that the Engineering team spent struggling over the original code model.

Our presentation will hit the following points:
- The evolution of this project from initial clumsy sketches to iterative designs and shipped builds, with live demos (not just mockups) of real code on-stage. We will discuss the feature-by-feature breakdown and overall scenarios, as well as areas that didn’t quite make it in. Hey, it’s all iterative and imperfect!
- An insider-look at persuasive methods by Design and Product Management Directors for rallying support with key executives in terms of leadership and process planning: what to say and not to say with conviction (and patience) throughout the journey. Examples include: running a skeptical Engineering team through a week-long empathy study, giving pitches to execs at quarterly planning sessions to gather inputs and agreements, showcasing visionary concepts to the VP of Engineering and summoning his direct support to drive resourcing.
- A demonstration of '3-in-a-box' model with audience members. This exercise actively projects our attitudes and beliefs by re-living how it all played out in dramatic fashion. (Kleenex not provided)
- Advice on how to lead a '3-in-a-box' session back at your company, effective white-boarding techniques, and even photographing notes with an iPhone! Yes, there's a method to the madness that reveals how a few days of uninterrupted design time directly leads to much faster progress and better design quality.

In the end, our '3-in-a-box' approach inspired a small team used to waterfall methods to push the limits of technology and innovation in a collaborative, supportive manner, where everyone shared the victory of shipping a great UX. From nearly dashed hopes to tearful joy, experience this story first-hand, with perspectives from the PM and PD Directors themselves on what it takes to design exceptional multi-touch UX (released to the market December 2011 to positive feedback from industry reviewers and early customers). And now we have incorporated '3-in-a-box' as part of our planning process. It is included as part of our Design brief, project kickoff and progress tracking activities.



August 31, 2012


  1. Three’s Company A proven model for good development UX Australia

    2012 Uday Gajendar, Principal Designer Citrix, Santa Clara CA

  3. Yes, it really takes a village... PRODUCT MANAGEMENT PRODUCT DESIGN

    ENGINEERING Uday Jannie Robin Devs: Joe, Georgy, Dimitry
  4. Problem – Windows 7 on iPad Work & Play from

  5. Problem – Windows 7 on iPad Work & Play from

  6. Problem – Schedules / Cycles

  7. Problem – Team Collaboration

  8. Our perceptions really matter! Developers Designers Product Managers As seen

    by Developers As seen by Designers As seen by Product Managers
  9. Our perceptions really matter! Developers Designers Product Managers As seen

    by Developers As seen by Designers As seen by Product Managers
  10. Teamwork/collaboration It  takes  mutual  respect  and  trust.  Value  each  other’s

      expertise  and  professional  judgment.  Designers  are  fair   to  challenge  the  tech  constraints,  and  Devs  are  fair  to   challenge  the  design  rationale. Designers  aren’t  there  to  make  it  “pretty”. They  want  to  create  a  great  product. Ditto  for  Devs!
  11. Project Chameleon

  12. Initial engineering builds (pre 3-in-a-box)

  13. Initial engineering builds (pre 3-in-a-box)

  14. Personas! Umm, how about some

  15. UI concept “kickstarters” (pre 3-in-a-box)

  16. What’s going on here??! Enter the Product Manager!

  17. •  Unproductive conference calls, “advisory role” •  PM & UX

    wrangling with Engineering •  Engineering do their own experiments and UI •  “Lipstick on a pig” level of discourse •  Trying to get empathy studies support from Engineering Summer of malaise…sigh. Yep, research was involved too!
  18. None
  19. Engineering progress…sorta!

  20. Catalyst event: VP sees concepts! of Engineering


  22. None
  23. So, what really happened?

  24. Sprint 1: Back to the basics Uday, Robin, and Jannie

    go to Florida Oct 13-15 2011
  25. None
  26. Sketch to Code FAST!

  27. Uday & Robin go to Florida Nov 15-16 2011 • 

    Finalized and polished the design •  Fine-tuned the workflow and user interaction •  Micro-tweaked the visual design Sprint 2: Refining the details
  28. Details make the design!

  29. None
  30. None
  31. The Citrix XenApp 6.5 Mobility Pack looks bad-ass. Put a

    touch friendly skin on Windows apps. @BrianMadden
  32. None
  33. Final Lessons & What’s Next •  Brought together expertise from

    three distinct specialties •  Ease of communication and free flow of ideas •  Quick path from design to implementation •  Increased emphasis on design, both within Citrix and the industry in general •  Professional design is essential to a product’s success •  Traditional development process takes too long •  Now part of our design brief, etc.
  34. Design Leadership How to influence the Executive team Worked with

    each group (Design, PM & Dev) to derive their needs and come up with a plan Share what’s broken and how 3-in-a-box can address the issues Define the process: steps and recommended moments for 3-in-a-box Build a case: We had 3-in-a-box moments for quick-fix project which led to create success. Use that as my cost-impact analysis Presented to the exec panel and establish a rollout plan Beta test it: One “beta” team, tweak then full deployment Celebrate success and rollout before beta team project is done
  35. So, what is “3-in-a-box”? PRODUCT MANAGEMENT PRODUCT DESIGN ENGINEERING Partnership

    Collaboration Cooperation Teamwork Empathy
  36. Questions?!