Mental models enable us to uncover new insight and make decisions from a repeatable intentional perspective. My favorite mental models focus on human-centered value creation. These often create a world that humans can navigate with ease and find value-based meaning. With this post, I’d like to introduce a human-centered mental model of my own.

This model combines a focus on two areas: interface and access. Together, I call it the interface-access model. It is designed to help you conceptualize the world in an abstraction¹ that enables you to find human-centered value alignment in how you spend your time.

Interfaces are…


Life has its ups and downs. When we zoom out, we can see this is part of how we grow. These ups and downs have a unique beauty that exists throughout the natural world.


First day at Lyft, March 2015

When I reflect back on five and a half years at one of the fastest growing, highest profile startups of the late 2010s, I think more about people than projects. In many westernized cultures like the US, we tend to value individualism — the notion that someone is a “self-made” person. But the reality is that everyone relies on support from other people. Every project I worked on at Lyft, even if it was “my project,” was a collaboration with those who supported me on my journey. Were I a car, these people were the infrastructure that enabled me to…


Rebuilding our Support Tech architecture at Lyft

On the support tech team at Lyft, we’ve been rebuilding our support systems to better stand the test of time and enable our growth. We chose to “move thoughtfully” and “not be afraid to change things” instead of the popular hacker mentality of “move fast and break things.” This strategy was fueled by a deep understanding of what challenges existed in the past, what is needed now, and what is required for the future.

The result is a new generation of support infrastructure that is built to last and adapt to our business needs over several years. …


Musings from The Ethics of Technological Disruption

This post is based on the first session of Stanford’s Ethics of Technological Disruption class. The content is my own opinion, prompted by material discussed during the class.

In a perfect free market economy, consumers have the ability to freely pick among available options. There are enough of these available options to represent different points of view. The ability to freely pick represents the demand power that gives consumers a voice in the market. This power forces suppliers to meet consumer needs. …


Everyone has experienced the tension between Finance and Product: saving money is often in conflict with providing customers with a better experience. But better customer service is not a zero-sum game. At Lyft, we found a way to reduce our costs AND provide a measurably improved customer service experience by enhancing our automation in support ticket handling.

Support teams often come up with ingenious workflows using a very limited toolkit; they want to provide customers with the best experience at all cost. However these workflows can be error prone and inefficient because the right tools don’t exist. Resourcing engineering effort…


The market adjusts to what we value in our products and how we use them.

In the past half-century we have become increasingly good at making products cheaper, faster, and desirable. As the pace of new products has increased, the focus on long term usage of the product has diminished. The product only need last as long as it takes for its perceived obsoleteness to demand a new product.

The incentive for companies in the current system is to focus on the next big thing — you need only look as far as the cellphone industry ads to see that.


The beginning of this story starts with a journey. A somewhat benign one, in fact. Throughout this journey, the question of identity lingered in my mind. Then a new understanding arose.

Imagine yourself on day one of a free 10 day journey through Israel. This is your first time outside of North America and Europe. You might be wondering, “how did I get here,” “who are these people,” “what is this culture,” “how do this culture and I fit together,” or “does the food taste good here?”

Those question were floating around in my head as I began my 10…


credit unpeusauvage

Why I Made the Grateful App

Toward the end of 2015, I noticed that my last thing before I went to bed would often be checking my phone. This was my ritual, created unintentionally. Though catching up on the latest social network post was fun, the overall experience, after the phone was set down, was unfulfilling.

We all have a say in what we choose to focus on. I wanted something more reflective and positive to end my day with, especially on the rough days. When I thought of the end of a day, I noticed how the night offers a wonderful decrescendo to the rhythm…


In every line of code, engineers make code architecture and implementation design decisions about the products they build. In summation, these micro-decisions set the functionality and ease of future development of the product. Every engineer should play a role in product decisions.

When the engineer is a part of the product dialogue and decision making process, the engineer gets to be part of asking the bigger questions of why are they building what they are building and who are they building it for, which it saves time down the road and often makes the work more interesting.

Sean Bolton

I’m a design and growth focused product maker on a mission to make the world feel more human. Learn more: http://seanbolton.me/

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