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An inside look at how Figma builds product | Yuhki Yamashita (CPO of Figma)

An inside look at how Figma builds product | Yuhki Yamashita (CPO of Figma)

Yuhki Yamashita is Chief Product Officer at Figma. Prior to Figma, he was Head of Design of Uber’s New Mobility efforts, and before that a product manager at Google and Microsoft. Adding to his impressive resume, Yuhki also taught introductory computer science at Harvard. In today's episode, we talk about operationalizing quality, the case against OKRs, and how Figma isn't just known for product-led growth, but also for building a community of empowered users. Yuhki also shares why he thinks storytelling is key to being a great product manager, owning the "why," and the potential impact of Adobe's acquisition of Figma.

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Google, Overcast, and YouTube.

Find the full transcript here: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/an-inside-look-at-how-figma-builds-product-yuhki-yamashita-cpo-of-figma/#transcript

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors for supporting this podcast:

• Notion—One workspace. Every team: https://www.notion.com/lennyspod

• Vanta—Automate compliance. Simplify security: https://vanta.com/lenny

• Flatfile—A CSV importer that says yes instead of error: mismatch: https://www.flatfile.com/lenny

Where to find Yuhki Yamashita:

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/yuhkiyam

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yuhki/

• Website: https://www.figma.com/@yuhki

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/lennysan

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/


• Yuhki’s guest post on Lenny’s Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/how-figma-builds-product

• Shishir Mehrotra on Lenny’s Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-rituals-of-great-teams-shishir-mehrotra-of/id1627920305?i=1000576021672

• Five Why’s template: https://www.figma.com/templates/5-whys-template/

• Dylan Field on Twitter: https://twitter.com/zoink

• Jeff Holden on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeffholden

• Figma: https://www.figma.com/

• Friends of Figma: https://friends.figma.com/

• Camille Ricketts on Lenny’s Podcast: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/how-notion-leveraged-community-to-build-a-10b-business-camille-ricketts-notion-first-round-capital/

• Adobe Illustrator: https://www.adobe.com/products/illustrator/campaign/pricing.html

• Adobe Photoshop: https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard: https://www.amazon.com/Switch-Change-Things-When-Hard/dp/0385528752/

The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber: https://www.amazon.com/Story-Stone-Dream-Chamber-Vol/dp/0140442936

Serial podcast: https://serialpodcast.org/

The Good Nurse on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/81260083

• FigJam: https://www.figma.com/figjam/

• Asana: https://asana.com/

• Slack: https://slack.com/

• Notion: https://www.notion.so/

• Dropbox Paper: https://www.dropbox.com/paper/start

• Figma’s Alignment Scale: https://www.figma.com/community/widget/1030848035996871692

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Yuhki’s background

(09:05) What Yuhki learned from being on a design team

(10:29) Why managing designers is more difficult than managing product teams

(12:20) Why storytelling is important for product managers

(16:35) How to improve your storytelling skills 

(18:51) Why PMs need to know the “why” of the product they are managing

(22:34) The importance of developing a community and strong customer relationships

(26:13) How to use different types of feedback

(28:11) Working with Dylan Field

(32:44) Testing at Figma and the branching emerging feature

(34:54) Why your entire company should be using your product

(36:50) The importance of having personal accountability 

(38:48) Why Yuhki likes to stay out of the way of engineers fixing their own bugs

(40:50) Yuhki’s thoughts on OKRs and how they are used at Figma

(48:40) Figma’s interview process

(51:45) How Figma’s sales team works by creating human connections and empowering designers

(54:57) How Figma built community and created organic growth

(56:36) Advice for founders 

(58:57) The potential acquisition by Adobe and the future possibilities for Figma

(1:01:42) Closing thoughts 

(1:03:44) Lightning round

Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com.