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The Customer-Driven Culture: A Microsoft Story: Six Proven Strategies to Hack Your Culture and Develop a Learning-Focused Organization

The Customer-Driven Culture: A Microsoft Story: Six Proven Strategies to Hack Your Culture and Develop a Learning-Focused Organization

by Travis Lowdermilk, Monty Hammontree


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If you’re striving to make products and services that your customers will love, then you’ll need a customer-driven organization. As companies transform their businesses to meet the demands of the digital age, they find themselves grappling with uniquely human challenges. Organizational knowledge becomes siloed, employees move to safeguard their expertise, and customer data creates polarization and infighting between teams. All of these challenges widen the distance between the people who make your products and the customers who use them.

To meet today’s challenges, companies need to do more than build processes for customer-driven products. They need to create a customer-driven culture.

With the help of his friend and mentor Monty Hammontree, Travis Lowdermilk takes readers through the cultural transformation of the Developer Division at Microsoft. This book shows readers how to "hack" their culture and reduce the distance between them and their customers’ needs. It’s a uniquely personal story that’s told amidst a cultural revolution at one of the largest software companies in the world.

This story acts as your guide. You’ll learn how to:

  • Establish a Common Language: Help employees change their thinking and actions
  • Build Bridges, Not Walls: Treat product building as a team sport
  • Encourage Learning Versus Knowing: Help your team understand their customers
  • Build Leaders That Build Your Culture: Showcase star employees to inspire others
  • Meet Teams Where They Are: Make it easy for teams to to adopt vital behavior changes
  • Make Data Relatable: Move beyond numbers and focus on empathizing with customers

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492058717
Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/31/2020
Pages: 210
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Travis Lowdermilk is a UX Researcher, Designer, and author of the Customer-Driven Playbook. He has been building software experiences as a researcher, designer, and developer for over 15 years. Now he works with product teams at Microsoft and students, from all over the world, helping them integrate customer development and design-thinking into their products.

In his journey to help others bring customer empathy into their product making, Travis has had the opportunity to work with numerous teams; helping them shape their culture toward collaboration, creative safety, and customer-driven innovation.

Monty is the Principal Director of User Experience Research for Microsoft’s developer tools and platforms division. He has 30 years of industry experience in product design and user research management. In recent years Monty has been at the forefront of the formation and adoption of "lean" customer, product, and business development best practices within Microsoft. A primary theme running throughout his career has been the development and utilization of team-based techniques for uncovering innovation opportunities, exploring creative concepts, visualizing solution alternatives, and evaluating/refining candidate solutions.

Prior to joining Microsoft Monty co-founded and served as Vice President of User Experiences for ChannelPoint, an internet startup focused on the sale and management of financial services products. Prior to his tenure with ChannelPoint, Monty managed product design and usability for Sun Microsystems systems administration division. Monty holds a Ph.D. in Human Factors Engineering from Old Dominion University.

Monty lives near Microsoft’s main campus in Redmond Washington with his wife Amy. His five children, now grown, and six grandchildren are the pride of his life and his never-ending fountain of youth. He holds a Ph.D. in Human Factors Engineering from Old Dominion University.

Table of Contents

How This Book Came to Be: A Note from Travis vii

Preface xiii

1 Building a Foundation for Change 1

2 Establish a Common Language 21

3 Build Bridges, Not Walls 37

4 Encourage Learning Versus Knowing 55

5 Build Leaders That Build Your Culture 73

6 Meet Teams Where They Are 97

7 Make Data Relatable 121

8 Measuring Change 143

9 In Conclusion 157

A Appendix 169

Index 177

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