EP 298 . 12 Jun 24

Responsibilities of a Designer

With Daniel Burka & Shreyas Satish

In the episode

  1. At RTSL, You’re a Director of both Product and Design. How do you distinguish between the two verticals daily, especially concerning concerns and metrics?
  2. Who is a Product manager and who is a designer according to you? Who according to you is supposed to focus on defining the right problem and then crafting the perfect solution? How blurred are these lines? What are the primary differences if I may ask?
  3. Seems like a designer can become a PM. Can it be the other way around? This is in the context of a few hard skills.
  4. A PM is torn between a thousand things from business to analytics and many other things. How can designers venture into this role? Also, can you steelman the case for a designer to become a PM?
  5. In a lot of companies, tech and design functions are both product reports, while in many these are separate verticals. In your experience what works best and when?
  6. One criticism of product managers, by folks like Marty Cagan, is that product managers often function as project managers. What in your view should a product manager focus on bringing to the table?*
  7. Designers in their romantic vision want to solve problems for all users. While Product folks go after those getting the dollars. Can you give any example from your experience where you have balanced it elegantly? What did it take?
  8. One death is a tragedy while a thousand deaths are statistics. How do you see this in the world of Product managers obsessed with data over real emotions? This is specifically for your work in healthcare.
  9. Some companies Like Airbnb have evolved their org structures to have Product Marketing Managers and Apple of course has Program Managers who report to a Product Director. Do you have a framework to think about organizational design with product teams, of course, knowing that different organizations have designed differently based on what they are focused on?
  10. What do you consider the key responsibilities of a product designer? Again, from tiny startups to large MNCs*
  11. You work on Simple, which is of course, primarily focused on creating impact. Can you talk a little bit about what it’s like designing for social impact compared to increasing market share or profitability? In a digital landscape, how can we ensure our products create real value and positive impact beyond just solving problems?
  12. What is the future of Product Managers and Designers in the AI world? What does the career ladder look like? What skills do we acquire for the future of WWW?

About Daniel Burka & Shreyas Satish

Jeff Bezos once said, “Be stubborn on vision but flexible on details.” and Charles Eames once said, “The details are not the details. They make the design”. In today’s episode, we’ll try to find a synthesis of this with Daniel Burka – who wears two hats. A Product manager and a designer.

Daniel is the director of product and design at the not-for-profit Resolve to Save Lives, where he spends most of his time on the open-source project, Simple. Simple is used by thousands of hospitals in India, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia to manage over 2 million patients with hypertension and diabetes.

He is on the board of Laboratoria, a not-for-profit based in Peru helping Latin American women build successful careers in tech. In 2021, Daniel also started the open-source Health icons project to provide free icons to healthcare projects worldwide. He is also a member of Adobe’s Design Circle, which grants scholarships to a diverse group of designers each year. Previously at Google Ventures as a Design Partner, Co-founder of Milk.inc and SiverOrange, and more…