Episode 7: The Triad of Design, Engineering, and Product with Johannes Marbach and Callum Upfield

Episode 7

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In this episode of “Productly Speaking”, we discuss the relationships between product management, engineering, and design. Joined by Johannes Marbach, an engineer, and Callum Upfield, a designer, we delve into several key aspects such as feedback dynamics, role definitions, communication, PRDs, team structure and effective collaboration. The insights surfaced on this podcast episode come from much learned experience and represent valuable perspectives from the world of product development. While there is no coffee talk in this episode, we do discuss Fig Jam, which is a critical ingredient in Fig Cakes.

Guest Bios

Johannes Marbach is an Engineering manager based in Germany with over 10 years in the field. He’s passionate about people and processes that work and this style of his has a positive impact on team morale and velocity, which in turn drives good product experiences for customers and users. Over the course of his experience so far, Johannes has worked as both a developer and a manager. In this work, he has grown apps from first use all the way to millions of users globally.

Connect with Johannes on LinkedIn!

Callum Upfield is a Designer based in the UK with a specialism in Product Design and User Experience, and his visual design skills are exceptional. Most recently Callum has been working on a zero-to-one product for mobile. His work history has given him great experience with a range of platforms, product problems, and product teams of all shapes and sizes.

Connect with Callum on LinkedIn!

Key Points

00:00Introduction 00:57Episode Introduction 02:27On the values of product management 03:29The importance of feedback between product managers, designers, and engineers 05:33What engineers and designers wish product managers knew about their roles 07:55Speaking with one voice 11:17Internal communication, external communication, and creating safe spaces for discussion 12:35PRDs 19:18Getting started on a project 21:25The feedback loop from customers to the triad 23:25Team structure and documenting processes 25:12The criticality of accountability 26:27Write everything down 29:20Tooling for product documentation and processes 32:39How design, engineering, and product best work together to engage with customers 36:28The Final Question 37:50Outro

Call to Action

Let us know what your takeaways were — what comments made you think? What new thoughts did you have listening to the podcast?


“It’s a really good working style when as a designer, engineers are sharing progress, because there might be things that have been implemented that are different from the design, which the engineer might not think much of and might not be a problem. But I think understanding why implementations differ due to whatever constraints there are, understanding those as the project goes along is really useful from my perspective.”

Callum Upfield

“I definitely think it’s good to have some sort of process, even in a very fast-moving, agile team, just like certain steps and certain responsibilities from everybody. So everyone’s kept accountable and it feels like there’s a good joint effort.”

Callum Upfield

“I also find that whenever I’m involved in talking to customers directly, it often feels very valuable because you’re talking to somebody who uses the stuff that you’ve been building. You’re getting totally new insights on what kind of problems they’re facing in practice.”

Johannes Marbach

“It can also be super impactful for engineers to create that kind of customer mindset because it’s very common for engineers to be kind of averse to customer interactions because they often see it as something that gets in their way, which I can totally understand. But then again, it just reinforces the purpose of why they’re doing the work. So I’m really a huge fan of getting them involved.”

Johannes Marbach

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Season 1Episode 7