Map vs Path

By on in Design, Process

It’s a simple idea that can help your digital product take shape; when a user enters your system, do you hand them a map or a path? What’s the difference? Great question, and in this case, the metaphor is pretty literal.

Continue reading …


Experiment-Driven Design Process

By on in Design, Process

So you want to grow your product? That’s super awesome. Growth is often a goal that startups rush towards. 

“We need 100,000 monthly active users yesterday.” – random startup person 

Growth can mean a lot of things. Maybe you’re trying to grow the number of users, or increase time spent using your product. Whatever it is, growth usually means moving metrics. But meeting your growth goal takes a very meticulous and strategic design process. You need to try out ideas and see what actually works. In this article, I am going to share how to set up a successful experiment-driven design process that can help you identify the features and changes to grow your product. Let’s grow!

Continue reading …


Pairing Retro

By on in Development, Process

Back at my first job in tech, we paired 95% of the time. Many people were new to pairing. As it was my first job, I was relatively one of the more junior people on the team, which is an especially difficult position to be in for pairing. It was an incredibly intense experience for the whole team with many growing pains. There was a lot to navigate and no set-aside time or structure to do that, so I started having “pairing retros” with my teammates. It made pairing a lot more manageable and I started having better experiences with my pairs. It’s now something I’ve continued to do throughout my career.

The concept is fairly simple. Set aside a time when you’re not pairing, to talk about pairing.

Continue reading …


Happy Teams Build Great Products. Here’s How.

By on in Process, Product Management

Ever feel like your product team is not working to its full potential? Here at Carbon Five, we’ve worked with hundreds of product teams, and we wondered what differentiated strong teams from struggling teams.

Our curiosity drove us to create the Product Dartboard, a digital tool that helps teams identify their strengths, challenges, and blind spots, and provides teams with actionable steps to continuously improve.

Speaking of continuous improvement — we just released a few updates to the Dartboard. Now you can see a more detailed Dartboard report, facilitate a productive team discussion with our downloadable guide, and create your own follow-up assessments — which is critical to team success! Continue reading …


Channeled Procrastination

By on in Everything Else, Process

I procrastinate. In high school it was a huge issue for me, because as a high schooler I was still inexperienced at it. I frequently found myself in last-minute mode, moving swiftly from one self-induced crisis to another.

College wasn’t any better. The assignments were more spread out, but the due dates tended to be final due dates, whereas in high school there were usually several interim deadlines for milestones. Continue reading …


Carbon Five Wins Amplitude Emerging Product Leaders Award

By on in News, Process, Product Management

We were honored to receive the award for Outstanding Product Agency in Amplitude’s Emerging Product Leaders Awards.

This award is for the agency that provides clients the best product development, growth, or strategy support. At Carbon Five, product managers help clients to transform their vision into reality. We also build high-performing teams, mentoring client PMs and leaders so that they can continue to build amazing things once we roll off the project. Continue reading …


Minimum Viable Process

By on in Process, Product Management

If I mention the word “agile” to you, a couple of rituals common to agile methodologies probably come to mind. Daily stand-ups and iteration planning probably top the list, and you probably think of other agile concepts like user stories and estimating their complexity with an arbitrary number of points. Continue reading …


How to save 90% of your development budget

By on in Design, Process, Product Management, Startups, User Research

Carbon Five was recently brought in to build a new product with a planned budget of 6 months. As the first step, we conducted a few rounds of customer development to try and validate the concept. After a month of experiments by a product manager and designer, we ultimately recommended that the company not pursue the idea. Our client spent a few weeks of consulting fees but saved more than 90% of their budget by not building anything.

The client for this project provides software to a niche set of businesses. As more and more competition started popping up, they believed they saw an opportunity to create a digital marketplace in their niche. Before Carbon Five started building software, the client wanted us to confirm demand for the marketplace.

Continue reading …


Top Traits of Successful Non-technical Founders

By on in Process

As a digital product development consultancy that delivers more than 30 projects a year, we get to work with a lot of founders: technical and non-technical alike. Over the last 17 some-odd years, there are a few traits we see time and again in successful non-technical founders. And really, these six traits benefit anyone trying to create a successful new product.

Continue reading …