The anti-pattern I’d like to explore today is what I affectionally call the head of problemaka senior’itis. In my experience, this is the factor in org design that increases burn and bureaucracy. This anti-pattern is lethal for companies.
It starts off quite innocently. Let’s assume you are the CEO at the early stages of a company and you have identified a problem to solve, say in the general area of customer support. Customer support as a function doesn’t exist yet. You ask around your peer group, you look at successful companies and then you make the common mistake – you get afflicted by senior’itis. You decide that you need somebody senior to run that function, you need somebody who has done it before somebody with pedigree. You need a Head of customer support. You then spend a lot of time trying to woo the right candidate, the one that checks all the boxes. You hire him after a long drawn out courtship. You are happy, your customer support problem will be solved, you have found the right person. You have hired a person who will take accountability to solve the problem.
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.
Imagine the scene, its the end of the day, dinner is done, you are ready to turn in. The last thing you have to do is wash the dishes. Your spouse loads the dishwasher and just as she is heading to bed, she tells you “Honey put the soap in the dishwasher and turn the dishwasher on”
Over the years I had the opportunity to work with and interview a lot of product managers. Once you see enough people a few traits emerge. What follows is a humorous take on the various PM personas found in the wild via Dilbert cartoons.
Disclaimer: This is supposed to be funny and a caricature. If this offends you I’m sorry, but please no hate comments and/or twitter hate – it’s just not worth it.
I’ve been really fortunate over my career to be in companies that were experiencing tremendous growth. As companies grow, hiring and getting the right team in place is important, multiple interviews and mistakes later I’ve landed on one key insight, one thing that I look for
creating playbooks > following playbooks
What is a playbook?
I define playbooks broadly as a set of processes, principles, required behaviors, and measures that lead to a repeatable outcome. A playbook is structured and is the key enabler for scale in the problem area of your choice. Problem: Hiring, figure out your playbook. Problem: User acquisition: figure out your playbook. Problem: High-velocity product delivery: figure out your playbook.Continue reading “The one thing that demonstrates greatness”→