a question I ask startup founders that they seem to find helpful ...

"what do you need to be the best in the world at?"

(hyperbole intended)

here's what is fascinating about the replies...(1/n)
Some people will list 5-8 things.

"We need to be awesome at a,b,c,d,e,f,g!"

...w/o an ounce of self awareness that being awesome at one thing is HARD. Two things is REALLY HARD. Three? Nope.

Here's another thing...

Most people haven't "unpacked" the value chain (2/n)
Take something like targeted in-app #UX enhancements ...

you need to be amazing at 1) doing that w/o breaking someone's product, 2) doing it quickly, 3) the targeting, 4) all the requisite data plumbing, 5) clean data, 6) marketing it, 7) best in the world at in-app #ux (3/n)
That is not trivial! There are literally businesses built on solving each of those problems.

So if your value prop is "OH, we will do it all with our platform" ... yeah, maybe that sounds good, but it doesn't remove the need to to be really good at 7 things (4/n)
...anyway, try the question out with a group. And keep picking and picking. Keep unpacking the things. Keep asking if you really need to be great at all those things.

Does your idea still hold up? (5/end)

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More from @johncutlefish

13 Dec
a big learning the last year is the degree to which your most passionate team members will *expect* leaders/managers to coherently frame strategy

this is where "autonomy" often hits a snag. Leaders assume it means "bottom up" planning. But that isn't it ... (1/n)
Writing up 3 vague bullets on a "vision" slide is easy. Also easy is planning out each and every chunk of work for the year.

Much harder is detailing a strategy that leaves room for creativity and agency ... but is also coherent, backed by evidence, and is opinionated ... (2/n)
Opinionated? Isn't that bad?

I don't think so when it is opinionated at the right level. Passionate problem solvers want to know that their company has a perspective and doesn't want to be everything/anything.

"Um hey, so what are your OKRs" doesn't land. (3/n)
Read 4 tweets
6 Dec
a differentiation that many teams get wrong:

time-based goals
persistent models

let's dig in.

left: time-based goals
right: persistent model

why is this important? ... (1/n)
* PS, school example took about 120 seconds. apologies
quarterly goals like OKRs often cloud the actual underpinning model ... the beliefs ... the assumptions ... the mental model for value creation.

spending time on understanding the persistent model makes time-based goals MUCH easier and gets us out of the factory model (2/n)
Even something is "bad" as this mind map (it took a team 5 minutes) ... can help build a common vocabulary.

with each passing quarter you will focus on parts of the puzzle. and you may revise the model. but even this rough first pass gets us started (3/n)
Read 4 tweets
6 Dec
the problem with distinctions like "discover vs deliver" is that they cloud the real issue.

IMHO...solve what constitutes a team and their decision/mandate scope first, and many of the other problems work themselves out.

Why? (1/n)
...take a team arguing about discovery vs. delivery.

What they *really* are arguing about is the clash of engineering team incentives, product manager incentives, and design team incentives.

....hmm...how do we keep THEM shipping while WE figure out the 'right things' (2/n)
design wants more time to do a good job, PdM is being pestered about how they'll solve the problem (and SHIP), and eng is told SHIP.

they proxy this dogmatic debates about what constitutes discovery and delivery, who does what, and how they can do MORE AT ONCE. So...(3/n)
Read 4 tweets
4 Dec

Friend: "Maybe you would have finished the book if you weren't tweeting all the time"

Not all wrong.

1/13 A short lesson in thinking about horizons/scope

Read 13 tweets
15 Nov
It is about this time of year I recommend a “so what if we build nothing” exercise. It is always fascinating.

Gather a cross-functional group and pose the question “ok, so what if we stop building new stuff. We go into full maintenance mode. What happens?” 1/n
Initially ppl will be confused. They’ll joke about losing their job. Once the get over that, they get curious and start imagining.

Typically I prep with some kind of monthly/quarterly “scoreboard” or dashboard. “ok, what happens to this quarter after quarter?” 2/n
What numbers go up? Go down? More or less support cases? Fewer purchases? Fewer upgrades? Higher cost of acquisition? Lower tension? More churn? A competitor starts to creep up? What stagnates? When?

“Let’s start creating a timeline...” 3/n
Read 6 tweets
9 Nov
#wardleymapping fans. I was about to make this list myself, but figured it would be more fun as a group activity. Care to add some?

WM help(s/ed) us decide to __________ instead of _________________ .

change a team's mission from acting as a specialist walled garden to trying to spread that expertise across the company
use vendors for X,Y, and Z, and then spin up an internal team to act as a center of excellence for navigating those vendors/tools and abstracting the provider from the company.
Read 4 tweets

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