Florian_Grote_webWelcome and thank you for your interest in my work. I coach the next generation of product managers at CODE University of Applied Sciences. Having worked as a designer, product manager, and director of products, I also conduct research in the fields of sociology and cognitive sciences. My life and work are based in Berlin.

When I characterize myself as a “products person”, what I mean is that I am passionate about making things and services work for their users, so that these users can go out and create something interesting and significant with them. This is what keeps me going having a role in the creative industries and coaching the next generation.

At CODE, we follow an approach we call “curiosity-driven education”, which means that students work together in cross-functional teams of software engineers, designers, and product managers from the get-go. These teams work on projects and the students pull the input they need from us coaches and lecturers as they see the need (of course, we also challenge them a bit). Here is a video introduction:

 

At the same time, I pay a lot of attention and divert much of my energy to how those products are built. I have worked in various setups ranging from old-school project management to embracing the “agile” methodology of working, which means that all work is distributed to small, cross-functional teams, with the goal of having fast reaction times when contexts and requirements change, and in general much more direct influence over one’s area of work. In agile setups, each team works with a product owner, who owns the functional requirements of the results from a user’s and the business perspective. For more complex products, there are several teams and several product owners. In my previous role at Native Instruments, I headed up the group of product owners for one such more complex product: Maschine. It is a hardware/software-based music production system for pattern-based arrangements, equally at home in modern urban as well as electronic music styles. This is what Maschine MK3, the newest addition to the family looks like:

Maschine MK3

And here is a brief video introduction to what Maschine does (with Maschine Studio, the classic flagship of the line):

 

Transitioning the organization that builds Maschine from a more traditional “waterfall” model of working to the agile paradigm was a long and hard process, and in many regards it is far from over. One could even argue that the whole point of the agile philosophy is to embrace constant change, rather than to implement a set of methods and then stick with them until something new comes along. I saw it as my main job to foster high-performing teams, because that is where technical and design excellence are executed. This involves looking beyond methods prescribed by textbooks on agile development, and taking cues from design thinking and lean management philosophies and methodologies. I have come to appreciate that high team performance is an extremely fragile optimum of communication processes, and that it needs lots of care and work to be achieved and maintained. The reward is in a team that is clearly greater than the summed up skills of its members, and seeing this happen is the best reminder of why we are in this mode of constant transition.

Next to my products work, I am also active as a researcher in cultural sociology and the theory of cognition. You can find some of my writing on the page on Publications & Lectures. I studied Cultural Sciences at the University of Lüneburg (now Leuphana University), with majors in music and computer sciences, and hold a doctorate from Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen. I have been a guest lecturer at Hochschule der Künste Bern (HKB), STEIM, Amsterdam, Zeppelin University, and Leuphana University.

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