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Designing for Happy

Learning and adapting is an essential part of any organization’s culture and capabilities. Yet, so many continue with the status quo. Why is this? It is both complex and complicated. It also questions our core values, and identity. This process is scary, and requires physiological safety.

Decision Making

A recent survey of Signal AI, which offers a decision augmentation platform infused with AI, interviewed 1,000 C-suite executives in the U.S. for the study. The report found 85% of respondents estimate upwards of $4.26 trillion in revenue is being lost because organizations lack the ability to make the best decisions and fast.

What are the biggest barriers to decision making?

44% Overwhelming amounts of data
21% Not enough time
16% Stakeholder alignment
19% Resourcing the Solution

While deep learning is extremely valuable, and algorithms are fast, tunable and mathematically agile, they will not provide for pragmatic reasoning and contextual awareness.

New research shows that you can learn to be a better decision maker by watching other people navigate their choices. Good decision-making requires incredible self-awareness and pragmatism to combat biases, group think, hyperbolic discounting, anchoring, and our tendency not to rethink the painful problem space before jumping into rewarding solutions.

The only decisions you should fear are the ones that are non-reversable, known to have negative side effects, or the decisions you don’t make.

First Principle Thinking

Influencing others is a critical skill everyone should try to master. You will need to take this to an art form as a product manager who typically has no authority and often minimal social capital. Practice is critical and one of the best ways to practice is Toastmasters.

Reexploring your Horizons

It is rare to find companies with an infinite mindset willing to embrace product pipeline vitality, flywheel funding and courage to solve the Innovators Dilemma. So many corporations are focused purely on competitive threats and executing to deliver solutions. Moving beyond Horizon #1 is not even a consideration. Of course, if you can not achieve your Horizon #1 business goals, then looking beyond that is not likely the best problem for you to solve. So while the pandemic has refocused some on inclussion, and others on resiliency/sustainability, it may be time to re-explore your horizons.

Prioritization Methods

Prioritizing is one of the most important skills of any organization or team. This is one of my favorite all time blog post comparing some of the more popular methodologies. Give it a read then discuss why your preferred method is best for your team, stakeholders and business. Also keep in mind weighting or correlating business priorities to prevent stakeholder alignment issues. If you are starting a new project or assembling a new team, put the Theory of Constraints aside and start with easy momentum builders.


Do we overvalue speed?

Agile scrum artifacts are information that a scrum team and stakeholders use to detail the deliverables, actions to produce them, and the activities performed during the project.

We are guided by Agile Manifesto – Working software over comprehensive documentation. Justified by equivocating from the 12 agile principles.

Many have taken this to extremes, excluding high-level software designs and even release notes to get a product to market. There are circumstances when you may want to rethink the level of documentation you are providing. Do you have single points of failure in your organization that hold critical knowledge? Have you ever thought about the amount of time spent reverse engineering handoffs? Or how many times you have heard a software engineer state, “It would be easier to rewrite this thing than figure out how it works.” These are all considerations towards making an informed decision on if you are overvaluing time to market and undervaluing documentation.

This does not apply to Minimal Viable Products, Prototypes, or Proof on Concepts.

Is it time for a serious talk, or an organizational physiologist?

Have you ever felt like no matter how hard your team is working, you can never get ahead of the fire drills? Does it feel like your retrospectives are not really working? There may be a good reason for this, and it’s called debt. Some debt can be burned off, but debt can also compounds and impact your quality, responsiveness, productivity and cycle time. It’s hard not to focus resources just on quick wins or your backlog, but it can pay to take a longer view beyond your burn down chart.