Results don’t matter | Tips for better decision quality

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I just finished reading the book Thinking in bets by Annie Duke. I highly recommend this book if you want to understand how to make better decisions. She talks about this amazing concept called resulting that blew my mind. In her own words

…was a victim of our tendency to equate the quality of a decision with the quality of its outcome. Poker players have a word for this: “resulting.” When I started playing poker, more experienced players warned me about the dangers of resulting, cautioning me to resist the temptation to change my strategy just because a few hands didn’t turn out well in the short run.

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Beware of false precision

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Human beings crave certainty and in the world of product management it translates to “estimates of value”. Product managers have to make tradeoffs regularly on what initiates to work out next. At a certain stage of the company the need for “formal estimates of the value of doing X” will kick in, otherwise, how do you know to work on X or Y? There will be an overwhelming desire to quantify everything to the nth detail before deciding what to do next. We all know the dangers of that – If you torture excel enough you will get the answer you want. Use of a complicated bottom-up model in the early stages of a product’s evolution is a huge warning sign for me.

How to counter this?

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Magic and Fintech – a thought experiment

A thought experiment on the sort of fintech experiences and products we’d want as consumers in the distant (or near) future. The thought process is structured as a conversation between an older father and an adult son. Italics is the dad.

So son, hows your financial life going? Everything under control?

Oh, Fiona’s got it all covered.

Whats Fiona?

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Investment products are counter-intutive| do conventional engagement metrics matter?

Product engagement is a hot topic. As a product person, you are always looking for the quantifiable metrics that indicate that your product is solving your user’s problem and that you are on your way to product market fit.

The conventional metrics for product market fit usually sound like the below with the trend line going up and to the right

  • User engagement measured by DAU MAU
  • Time spent on your product (Session time)
  • Core loop (# of times your core customer value transaction is executed)

An area which I’m deeply interested in is – do these same metrics hold true when we are dealing with anything related with money? Our relationship with money is very complicated. In silicon valley we see everything as a technology problem, is that true with money? is the success of digital products that deal with money more of a behavioral finance problem than a technology problem?
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Idea killers, how to bounce back

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A key skill in my opinion as a product person is to identify “idea de-railers”. Idea de-railers are specific phrases used to block ideas from going further. Once you can identify this pattern, it’s much easier to plan around it, and as leaders attack it head-on. Below follow some choice de-railers from my collection.

Obvious disclaimer, Yes product managers should be empathetic, yes everybody in the company is driving towards the same thing so idea-derailers seems a bit harsh of a characterization, yes this is not ideal company culture, yes yes yes. However, reality is an approximation of the ideal, it always helps to understand human behavior (good and bad) and have a plan to tackle. These are just techniques that have been useful to me 🙂  Continue reading “Idea killers, how to bounce back”