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Ron Lichty on How to Build Truly Customer-Centric Products [Product Alignment Series]

Ron Lichty on How to Build Truly Customer-Centric Products [Product Alignment Series]

  • Podcast /
  • Product Development /

Jonathon Hensley

What does it take to build customer-centric products? In my extensive conversation with software expert Ron Lichty, we explored the leadership, mindsets, and practices that enable teams to deeply understand user needs and deliver solutions focused on real-world outcomes.

Throughout our discussion spanning product strategy, organizational culture, and agile delivery, Ron repeatedly spotlighted the immense power of putting people at the heart of the process. Whether examining the “why” behind development work, cross-functional team models, or nurturing empathy on squads, Ron makes the compelling case that customer centricity fundamentally fuels innovation and business success.

Ron shares hard-won insights from over 30 years leading software teams. His vivid stories from pioneering Apple’s iconic user experiences to coaching modern squads illustrate tangible ways to build products and cultures focused on creating true value for human needs.

Part 1 – Why Developer Engagement is in a Crisis

Why do software teams often lack clarity into how their work impacts outcomes? In the first part of our convernsation, Ron spotlights a common frustration – the disconnect between developers’ day-to-day and true customer impact. In our conversation, Ron explains:

  • Why understanding the “why” behind their work motivates and focuses teams
  • How leaders fail to connect the dots to business outcomes
  • Why agile practices must support constant collaboration around shared goals
  • How to avoid blindly building features without ensuring real user value
  • Why imagining a better future for customers should steer development priorities

Watch Ron describe how to inspire teams by repeatedly tying their work to real-world change.

Part 2 – Unleash Your Team’s Potential Using the Product Trio

What does it take to set up product teams for velocity and innovation? A shared vision and ownership. I spoke with Ron about an alternative team model called the “Product Trio” – cross-functional groups that deeply collaborate towards common goals. In our conversation, Ron spotlights:

  • Why specialists like developers and designers need to jointly imagine solutions
  • Building a shared definition of quality and “done”
  • Continuously revisiting working agreements as teams evolve
  • Bringing in additional stakeholders when helpful

Listen to Ron make the case that integrating different perspectives lays the foundation for nimble product development.

Part 3 – Customer Obsessed Teams: The Hidden Key To Agility

What’s the key to product teams that focus on customer outcomes? Empathy and shared responsibility. In the third part of our conversation, Ron and I talk about the immense power of putting users at the center of agile development. In our talk, Ron explained:

  • Why customer empathy should be a core competency for software teams
  • How Apple’s Mac UI team set the tone by owning quality and user experience
  • The need to re-instill that “we build this for humans” mindset
  • Simple ways leaders can connect work to real-world impact
  • Getting teams aligned on what agile means for your product specifically

Watch Ron make the compelling case that nurturing empathy transforms delivery – and business results.

Forward. Digital. Thinking.

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