Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory – Franklin Pierce Adams
We’ve all read about how culture eats strategy for lunch. The internet is jam-packed with a million blog posts on the superficialities of culture. Its time for some inside baseball with some actual actionable things to watch out for and prevent.
It is absolutely true that the culture of the company dictates how it can adapt to change and eventually succeed. Culture is hugely important, however along the journey from a small company to a midsize company to a large public company, the culture will change. At all these stages, different parts of the company will have different cultures and norms. In fact sometimes within the same team, you will have differences based on where the teams are located and their size.
It’s been 10 years since the 2008 financial crisis. Astute observers will correct me and point out that the crisis actually started in early 2007 when the Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit collapsed. This was the first collapse of a hedge fund that was loaded up to the gills with subprime CDO’s. If you were following FT Alphaville in late 2006/ early 2007, you’d be ahead of the game. The signs were there! Some great coverage to relive and re-read
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.
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.
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?
I’m obsessed with the financial crisis, love reading about it, love learning from it. Humans have a huge bias towards positive outcomes and learning more about how crises happen, has helped me counter that bias. Additionally, learning from other’s failures make our lives a bit more bulletproof!
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)