For years, the respective Tk20 and Taskstream Product teams have lived behind a tall fence of competition, occasionally scrutinizing each other’s work like neighbors peering over to jealously spy each other’s flower beds.
Now that the fence is down, all of our plans and ideas are no longer guarded. But after three days last week at a Product and UX team offsite in Austin as a new combined team under Bhupi Bhasin, Tk20 co-founder and former president, we universally self-identified not as neighbors warming to each other after years, but as long-lost twins, separated at birth. It is easy to love a story about twins separated at birth: orbiting in the world, unbeknownst to each other, driven by a shared nature but shaped by the unique experiences of their environments.
As newly found “siblings,” we bonded over the different choices made and lessons learned while building and evolving our products. We reflected on how lucky we are to work in the field of higher education, and to have access to committed assessment professionals who are dedicated to improving learning.
It does not feel at all crazy to say our initial introduction felt more like a reunion than two former competitors becoming new co-workers meeting for the first time.
How Did We Spend the Time?
I would show you photos of our “Escape Room challenges,” but we were sworn off taking pictures or recordings. Just know that each team completed their mission! There were plenty of margaritas and BBQ along the way, but we mostly spent long days reaching a common understanding of our past and present work, aligning on how we’ll work together, and developing a shared vision of the future.
We started with lessons learned, latest research, and a sharing of insights that motivated recent work for each company.
Once the foundation was laid, we identified all the available assets at our collective disposal: technology, research, design work, and, most importantly, people—both the talent we have in the combined company as well the clients and institutions with whom we get to collaborate.
We talked at length about the opportunities and expectations we now face as a combined organization with all of those assets at our disposal, and we used those considerations to guide discussions on how we can best use them to prioritize and focus our work.
It may come as no surprise that we spent the bulk of our time developing a common understanding of our users’ motivations, goals, and pain points. Taking a fresh, in-depth look at our users’ workflows ensures the best parts of our respective solutions will be preserved in our ongoing evolution of even better user-centered experiences.
Our work did not stop when the offsite ended, of course. We’ll be hard at work in the coming weeks building a product roadmap that will move the critical work of assessment and accreditation forward to a bright future supported by the latest technologies and user-centered design.
We are up for the challenge!