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Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

Welcome to your first team meeting as the new PM. You’re busy trying to learn what the team does and who everyone is. The team is discussing an important decision they need to make. What should you do?

  1. Do nothing. You don’t have all the context. How could you contribute?
  2. Jump in with your ideas. You’re a person of action, and this is why they hired you.
  3. Offer to take notes. Ask a clarifying question. Post the summary after the meeting.

Doing nothing, while gentle, is ineffective. You don’t make progress in building trust with your team. …

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Photo by Laura Ockel on Unsplash

We are in planning season at Digit. Like a number of other technology companies, we use OKRs. I was puzzled by the wide range of OKR effectiveness at different companies. My study of the nuances of different approaches led to the conclusions outlined in this note. OKRs are incredibly useful but it takes a long time for OKR usage to become effective. Shortcut your company’s learning process by understanding and implementing the following ten ideas. If you find them helpful, drop me a note.

What are OKRs?

OKRs stands for Objectives and Key Results. They capture two things:

  1. Objective: The goal a company wants to achieve…

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The Trigger

As of March 2nd, 2020, the coronavirus outbreak has officially hit the tech sector. The virus, SARS-CoV-19, causes the disease, COVID-19. There are several different strains of the virus at this point, as it mutates at an average of about two mutations per month, resulting in several different strains in different places. [source]. There is a rash of cases in the Seattle area, with a smaller number reported in a host of other places, including California and the Bay Area.

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COVID-19 Global Cases, ex-China. Data by Johns Hopkins CSSE

Elad Gil published an excellent post about the impact of the virus on tech companies, including detailed but readable background information on the virus and it’s spread. Some useful Twitter accounts to follow are in the resources section below. Most important things to remember (summarized from Elad’s…

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I received positive feedback and encouragement for my previous 4 Interesting Reads post. Here is the next one, in the same vein. Feedback is always welcome, please reach out.

Making Uncommon Knowledge Common by Kevin Kwok

Rich Barton has founded three companies valued at over a billion dollars: Expedia, Glassdoor, and Zillow. In the linked article, Kwok explains Barton’s central strategy: take public knowledge that is hard to obtain for historical or structural reasons, make it easily accessible, and as a result, own customer demand. When looking for flights or hotels, you start with Expedia. When you’re looking to sell your house, your journey begins at Zillow with its Zestimate. This is data that has been converted to content that people want. All this “content” substantially lowers customer acquisition costs (CAC), the bane of a startup’s unit economics. …

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Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Life is full of complex decisions: capital purchases, such as a car or a house, planning a vacation, choosing a new job, picking a product strategy, prioritizing roadmaps, hiring someone. Complex decisions have several shared traits: the list of options is often extensive, evaluation criteria are ill-defined, the outcomes are hard to predict, input data is unavailable or incomplete. Humans understand large systems by building mental models, which are more straightforward than the reality they represent. Mental models are a great thing: they allow us to make progress without getting bogged down in every little detail. But they also have their flaws. …

A different post this week. Instead of the usual dose of problems and frameworks, here are four articles I came across in the past few weeks, along with summaries of why they’re worth reading.

How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen

Prof. Christensen passed away last week. He was a giant in the business world, with his theory of how low-end disruption can topple the biggest, most well-funded companies, explained in The Innovator’s Dilemma. He also gave us the Jobs To Be Done framework, in his more recent book, Competing Against Luck.

The above article is a break from business and explains his ideas on how to measure life. …

Thanks to Ben Liebald, Lily Zhang, and Maher Saba for ideas and feedback.

“Our customers love our product and are hungry for more. We have a solid strategy. But we seem to be moving very slowly. Our team is great, but we can’t seem to execute.”

If this struck a chord, I have good news. First, you’re not alone. Most leaders I talk to ask for “execution” help. Second, execution can be improved through hard work and persistent, directed effort. However, execution is a discipline, and there are no silver bullets, despite what the internet will tell you. …

The Feedback Series 3/3

The final note in the series brings theory and practice together into two ideas: first, in order to improve at anything, you need fast feedback loops. Second, coaches are a great way to create these feedback loops in complex environments. I believe coaching is an essential part of management and part of a manager’s job. I also suggest two approaches to getting coaching when your manager is unable to coach.

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Photo by Moises Alex, Unsplash

Atul Gawande is a master surgeon. Specializing in endocrine surgery, he has performed thousands of operations over a long career. For years, Gawande had been steadily improving — his rates of complications were dropping steadily, and he consistently beat the averages, when compared to national data. Then he hit a wall. …

The Feedback Series 2/3

This is the second of three notes on Feedback. The first one covered pragmatic tips on delivering constructive feedback; this note goes into the theory behind achieving peak performance.

How do we become experts? How can we learn new skills in depth? What is the process, what are the steps, and who do we need? Deliberate Practice is one way to learn and grow: have clear goals, focus, get feedback, and overcome frustration.

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— Photo by Jasper van der Meij on Unsplash

I have been playing squash off and on for many years. Some friends got me into it, and I got hooked. It’s easy to get started, a fantastic cardio workout, and immensely fun. However, my game wasn’t particularly good, and I belonged in the lowest tiers of the club. Starting last year, I started getting coaching. During each session, my coach would point out three things to focus on, work with me on those three things, and then ask me to practice those things in solo practice over the week, before coming back to the next coaching session — the result: more improvement in 3 months than ten years of playing the game. …

The Feedback Series: 1/3

This is the first of 3 notes on Feedback. I hope you enjoy the series. Feedback (haha) welcome.

Everyone screws up, everyone makes mistakes. When we err, hopefully, someone pulls us aside and tells us about our blunder. Feedback, when delivered on time and in a constructive manner, is critical to learning and growth. Three things that have made my feedback stick: 1 provide it as quickly as possible, 2. be firm and kind, and 3. suggest how you would have acted in that situation.

1. Timing Is Everything

Bill is a promising PM on the team. He has excellent product insight and can execute projects well. However, he struggles with selling his ideas to the Bigwigs. …


Rushabh Doshi

CPO at PM, Engineer, Advisor, Investor, Dad. Ex-Facebook, YouTube.

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