Home|Nintex Blog|5 Things I Learned from Nintex Product Management Director Zoe Clelland

5 Things I Learned from Nintex Product Management Director Zoe Clelland

Are you a customer with a broken workflow? Are you a developer trying to solve a process challenge for your business? If you’re having a problem with your product or service, chances are Nintex Director of Product Management Zoe Clelland can help you find a solution.

How? By doing what she does best – combining human psychology with product development. Here are five things I learned from her this summer:

1.  Be Open to Learning as You Go

After receiving her Ph.D. in human factors and experimental psychology, Zoe spent some time with medical devices and enjoyed implementing her knowledge of how humans process and learn in order to design highly intuitive and effective products.

After several years, she transitioned to designing web-based products, where she enjoyed making an impact in a fast-paced environment with wider opportunities for innovation. During this time, she realized the importance of a tight-knit relationship between product teams and UX teams.

At the end of the day, you can have a product that does a ton of amazing things, but if the customer can’t figure out how to use it or gets frustrated by the design, you’ve failed.

When Zoe joined Nintex’s team to head the product management efforts for Nintex Workflow Cloud, Nintex CEO John Burton appreciated the irony that although she didn’t have a technical background, she was leading the efforts on one of the most technically advanced products at Nintex.

That’s the beauty of workflow: The value and benefits of the solutions are so much bigger than the technology that supports them.

“I like to be thrown in the middle of new challenges, even if I haven’t yet mastered them,” Zoe says. “Nintex really fosters the kind of opportunities where you can transition between different areas of business and learn as you go.”

2.   Find Your Superpower

Besides having a background in user experience and product development, Zoe ties her success to finding her superpower: The power of getting stuff done.

She knows that her superpower means she can bring additional value to her skill set by understanding all the moving parts, seeing their impact, and making sure there are meaningful action and positive outcomes, not just great ideas.

“In the early days of my career, I had this picture in my head that management is just grabbing my team and dragging them along until we got the job done,” Zoe laughs. “In the end, the job was done, but I had a trail of exhausted and dusty bodies at the finish line. That’s the difference between managing and leading.”

Zoe believes you have to understand your responsibilities and the value you bring to the table; you always have additional opportunities for influence. That’s the difference between a sustainable leader and someone who just wants to get the job done.

You want your team to trust you, and you want to bring everyone along for the journey.

3.  You Can Be a Successful Leader, Even in a Place of Ambiguity

Almost every product Zoe has launched in her 17-year career has been a brand-new product entering a brand-new market. In her experience, it is usually much easier to sell to an existing customer base than to approach new customers.

This is not always the case with Nintex Workflow Cloud.

“Nintex technology originally was designed as a SharePoint-centric product; it advanced to include Office 365 and continues to be highly adopted within the Microsoft ecosystem,” Zoe explains.

“With Nintex Workflow Cloud, we brought all of our capabilities to the cloud to extend the power of the Nintex Workflow Platform beyond a single ecosystem. Our existing customer base, who easily automates sophisticated processes with Nintex, didn’t necessarily ‘need’ an alternative, but the ability to connect more people, more systems of record and more content certainly is recognized as a big benefit to existing and new customers.”

4.   Ask “Why” at Least 5 Times

Zoe excitedly compares the work she does at Nintex to providing customers with Lego pieces.

Nintex Workflow Cloud doesn’t hand over a rigid, pre-built solution because every business is unique. Instead, it provides a set of highly flexible and easy to use “components” that allows users to build exactly what they need for the right employees and customers at the right time.

Zoe works with Nintex to give customers a box of Lego blocks, and they come up with workflows that she could never have thought of. The market innovation drives what Lego pieces we add to the box.

“It’s amazing to see the solutions that customers build,” Zoe says. “Often I see powerful, super-efficient workflows that I didn’t expect, and it solidifies that we are providing the right tools to let businesses maximize the value of the product.”

This sort of insight allows Zoe to be the translator between the market and the internal development teams. She likes to understand her customers and their ecosystems so she can figure out what they want and see if her product team has a piece in their Nintex toolbox that can make that happen.

How does she understand her customer?

One key approach is adhering to the “5 Whys.” For each requirement, you ask why, and when you get the answer, you dig down another level. Sometimes the customer is asking for a specific solution, and without understanding why they need it and how it will impact them, it’s very easy to build the wrong thing.

The five layers of “why” help her get to the truth of what the customer needs instead of producing a product just because it can be produced. On the other hand, she found that introducing questions like, “What does that feel like as a participant in the workflow?” helps her team get beyond the idea of tech for tech’s sake.

“Not everyone’s perspective is based on some golden truth,” Zoe says. “You have to weigh all angles, understand what success looks like, and find what’s going to work for everyone.”

5.  Seek Adventure in all Areas of Your Life

Just as she enjoys a good work challenge, Zoe seeks adventure in her personal life. She loves animals and partakes in technical rescue missions with Washington State Animal Response Team. She also fosters pit bulls, rehabilitating them from dog-fighting rings.

She likes to challenge herself while making an impact.

When asked about her plans for the future, she asks herself the same five “whys” she asks those around her. She’s at Nintex because it’s a great place to work; because it has a great culture and a bright future; because the people really care and the products are amazing; because we always hire the best and brightest with a view on growth potential; because Nintex knows that superpowers matter.

“I am really happy with my company, my team, and my role,” Zoe says. “My life could be headed in one of three directions: I could keep pushing up the ladder, I could continue to expand my influence and impact in the role I have, or I could sell everything and start an animal sanctuary.”

At Nintex, we all know she will sprinkle in her superpower with good humor wherever she goes.


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