It’s a document that you prepare for whoever ends up succeeding you in your role. It should contain all the information you’d want them to know to ensure as smooth a transition as possible. Done right, the document should help them step into your role with a minimum of disruption.
When you’re staring a huge, challenging project in the face, don’t align your team around just getting it done. Instead, align your team around continually reducing uncertainty.
You reduce uncertainty until the software exists. You reduce uncertainty by doing: prototyping, designing, writing code, and shipping. Each of these actions serve to reduce the uncertainty about what is left to build.
Zero Defects means the goal would be considered ‘failed’ if there were even a single defect, so even if the intention behind the goal was good, it puts great pressure on people to find other ways to achieve this impossible objective.
Another important capability is assembling an ecosystem of partners and suppliers that do the work for you. Because of limited resources, you cannot do it all.
The ability to be more patient and take more risks is what sets midcaps apart.
I see many companies move from an incentive structure that was based on growth and profit to one based exclusively on profit. That drives the wrong behavior because it forces managers to focus on cost instead of growth, short term instead of long term.
Leaders are expected to attend to employees’ mental and physical health and burnout (while also addressing their own), demonstrate bottomless sensitivity and compassion, and provide opportunities for flexibility and remote work — all while managing the bottom line, doing more with less, and overcoming challenges with hiring and retaining talent. They should appear authentic, but if they get too honest about their distress, others may lose confidence in their leadership, known as the “authenticity paradox.”
Either way, it is important to realize that these more senior levels are not a measure of betterness, or quality, or raw intelligence and technical skills. They are instead a measure of demonstrated impact and confidence in the scope of work that the person can be tasked to accomplish. The people who get these promotions are trusted to navigate the systems of the company, to understand what is valued by the people around them and where to spend their time, because they have done just that.
I’m hoping this system helps you have better meetings – that the people running the meeting feel like it’s worth their time to run them, and that the people in attendance feel like their presence there matters.
Use every opportunity to talk to customers — both end-customers and channel (if your business sells through a channel). You don’t have to be at all formal or scientific about it. Make it easy to get started by doing it in a comfortable situation. If you have stores, wander a few of them talking to customers. If you are B2B, tag along with salespeople. Don’t have an agenda. Just soak in the customer thoughts, reactions, and behaviors.
Strategy is a team sport in which better strategic decisions arrive out of productive interpretations of diverse data and insights. Force yourself to learn how to integrate multiple views into your strategy-making by never engaging in strategy work alone. And I mean: never. That is what will get you the dialogue practice you need.
Many things at Twitter were broken to the point that they could bring the entire site to a halt. Greg’s strategy, now distorted through multiple retellings and my own foggy memory, was to focus on short-term triage rather than long-term fixes.
Essentially, he realized that a collection of temporary, duct-taped fixes was the only thing that would give the Twitter team the breathing room to start working on longer-term fixes.
I think of this in school grade terms. Greg went looking for all the Fs and then turned them into Ds. Then he turned all the Ds into Cs and then all the Cs into Bs, etc.
Role-switching is important not because quitting is so wonderful, but rather because sampling from different skills and fields is helpful, provided that you’re prepared to pounce on an area that clicks for you. Explore, then exploit.
He argues at one point that artists and other professionals feel happiest when their “body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
Prioritization is more than an analytical/intellectual exercise. It’s an organizational challenge with natural disagreements among stakeholders. Product leaders need to think about motivating the right kinds of participation and addressing the emotional issues that arise. Spreadsheets and models are necessary, but not sufficient.
There’s nothing wrong with a fondness for data. The trouble begins when you begin to favor bad arguments that involve data over good arguments that don’t, or insist that metrics be introduced in realms where data can’t realistically be the foundation of a good argument.
Many organizations still focus the majority of their decision making on one person or one small group of people at the top. This concentration of decision making isn’t just inefficient, it’s degenerative. No organization that maintains such centralized control over decisions will be able to adapt at the speed required by today’s markets.
The other key to promoting autonomy is to ensure individuals and teams have the skills they need to act on the clarity that comes from strategic thinking. Skills are honed through delegation. Managers must practice delegation to successfully develop new skills in their direct reports. And yet, good delegation skill is more rare than it should be.
Teams can then take the clarity they capture from long-term strategic thinking, the capabilities they’ve built by having decisions delegated to them, and combine them into action that is fast, flexible, and responsive.
Why is defensiveness such an obstacle to collaboration? When we get defensive, “we put way more into self-preservation than we do into problem-solving,” Tamm says. “We’re trying to prove that we’re right rather than search for creative solutions.” When this happens in a workplace, it can be a recipe for chaos and failure.
OK, now that we understand the dangers of defensiveness, here’s what we can do about it. You can start by learning to spot the warning signs of defensiveness in yourself. When you feel yourself experiencing them, pay attention and take action. According to Tamm, here are the 10 most common warning signs that you may be getting defensive: A spurt of energy in your body; sudden confusion; flooding your audience with information to prove a point; withdrawing into silence; magnifying or minimizing everything; developing “all or nothing” thinking; feeling like you’re a victim or you’re misunderstood; blaming or shaming others; obsessive thinking; and wanting the last word.
We confuse clarity/coherence and certainty. If clarity/coherence equals certainty, and a strategy is supposed to be clear and coherent, then unless we are certain, we can’t have a strategy. Meanwhile some high percentage of the audience for our strategy wants certainty. If they haven’t heard confident certainty, then they haven’t heard a strategy.
The unlock, I think, is realizing that you can confidently communicate a coherent strategy that also acknowledges uncertainty. You know what you know. You assume what you assume. You believe what you believe.