The big ideas in product management, productivity and personal growth I've been contemplating this week.
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YOUR PRODUCT’S BIGGEST KILLER IS APATHY
You’re not Kevin Costner. This isn’t Field Of Dreams. You’re not carving a magical baseball diamond out of a strip of corn on your Iowa farm in order to summon the ghosts of the infamous Chicago Black Sox.
If you build it they won’t come.
It may come as a surprise, but the product you’ve spent ages crafting just isn’t that interesting. Even for the people you’ve designed it to help.
It takes a huge amount of effort to get people to change.
As product managers, the biggest competitor we face is our customers’ apathy. We can deliver all the value in the world, but if it’s not enough to shift our potential users from their current way of working, then our product is doomed.
In order to stand a real chance of instigating change, then our products can’t just be marginally better than existing processes, they’ve got to be significantly better. Like Peter Thiel says in Zero to One, your product has got to provide a 10x improvement over the closest alternative if you want to get real traction.
Sahil Lavingia argues there are only two kinds of products: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses. While I’m not convinced that’s 100% accurate, it’s a great soundbite for measuring success. History is littered with the corpses of fantastic products that no one cared enough about to use.
WE ALL NEED A BIT OF CHAOS IN OUR LIVES
I posted a thread on Twitter this week about the problems with productivity systems like Getting Things Done:
Productivity systems that require effort to set up and implement always fall apart eventually. The reason? They’re not designed to evolve over time. I’ve wasted countless hours rebuilding and reorganising my system instead of actually getting work done.
In his epic article about setting up your smartphone to work for you instead of against you, Tony Stubblebine advocates using Evernote as a messy all-in-one note-taking and task management tool, and I agree with him. By letting structure evolve over time instead of imposing it at the start, it allows you to develop a robust approach that grows with you.
In his outstanding Productivity for Precious Snowflakes article for Ribbonfarm, Tiago Forte argues that the next age of productivity will be driven by states of mind rather than tools or context. We need to craft our own personal systems that support our changing states rather than rail against them.
THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF TALKING TO YOURSELF
I’ve always wanted to keep a journal but I’ve never been particularly good at it. For all the millions of words I’ve written in blogs, articles and social media posts, my personal journal is little more than a handful of bullet-points in long-neglected Evernote notebook.
I read an article last week, though, that has convinced me to try and turn journaling into a habit. Derek Sivers’ post about the benefits of a daily diary and topic journals has some great insights into the power of journaling and self-reflection garnered from 20+ years of practice.
Here are his recommendations:
Keep a daily diary
Create journals to capture your thoughts on topics you’re interested in
Ask yourself questions, then question your answers
Simple, but effective. I’m definitely going to try and fold these into my daily routine.
In the 2.5 years he worked for McDonald’s, Cody Bondarchuk put 11 chicken nuggets in nearly every 10 box he made. The world needs more heroes like this:
Thanks for reading