A quick 🧵on saying no.

While external forces definitely play a role here and may limit your options, this is an area where a lot of pain is self-inflicted.

managers: "why aren't they pushing back?"
team members: "I never have a second..."

How can you turn the tide? ➡️

You can almost never agree to something w/o something else suffering. A good habit here is to identify the thing that will get less attention, and say it out loud.

To focus on _____, we’ll probably need to de-prioritize _______. Have that answer ready.

It is important to visualize *all* of your work, not just the work in work tracking tools.

Whenever I see ppl brain-dump *all* of their promises, it is far more (like 3-4x) than they immediately acknowledge.

You have to have a system that makes it easy to check your bandwidth. Otherwise you'll find yourself saying "yes" with the intent of double-checking later.

Later never comes. You've already said yes.

You have to be prepared for a manager to try to play Tetris.

IOW, they'll start grilling you on what you're doing to the point where they find a wedge ("oh, can you slightly de-prioritize X", or "can you get a more precise estimate on Y") and force a commitment.

Be ready.

Related, you have to avoid playing Tetris with your OWN time. If you are already maxed out 99%, with every moment locked in weeks in advance, you'll have no time to breath, and the smallest interruption will throw all of your work for a tailspin.

Leave 30% slack...

Don't rely on your own estimates unless historically you are incredibly good at estimating. Manage throughput not your calendar and focus on finishing not starting.

If you find yourself saying "oh maybe that will only take 3hrs not 6hrs"... watch out!

Know where your time and energy is going right now. This relates to the wedge comment above, but if you lack self-awareness on how you're allocating your time/energy currently, you'll have no way explain the tradeoffs to anyone else.

Keep a time/energy allocation diary.

The most powerful defense is a good offense.

That means being able to explain why what you're working on is the single most valuable thing for the company. And that anything getting in the way is a major liability.

Be ready with an answer. Don't assume your mgr knows this

Finally, say "no because" ... for real. This is disarming to lots of managers who expect some kind of hedging. They'll respect it!

At a minimum, say "I need to review my commitments and get back to you".

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More from @johncutlefish

15 Feb
product principles are underutilized, and often phoned in.

key symptoms. they:
* aren't opinionated enough
* don't get the cognitive gears turning
* don't help guide decision making
* reveal nothing about the strategy
* are generic and yawn inducing

how do you fix them? (1/n)
Start with a simple prompt:

When faced with a decision between ____ and ____, we tend to favor ____ because ____

Ideally this is coherent with your actions and past decisions. If not...now would be a good time to start 🙂

The best principles...(2/n)
...cause a bit of friction/tension.

You pay attention. They are forcing functions.

e.g. at @Amplitude_HQ we aren't focused on analysts working in isolation, so we might say "we are biased to scaling data literacy over enabling lone hero analysts"

that gets you thinking (3/n)
Read 4 tweets
14 Feb
Time/energy management is one of the biggest challenges in product management.

How do you work more sustainably/effectively?

1/ Be hyper aware of soft commitments...

"I'll look into that!"
"Maybe we can..."

These are PIPs, promises-in-progress, and they can overwhelm you➡️
2/ You *must* bake slack into your days and wks.

Unstructured time. Time to tackle emergent needs. Time you can repurpose with 24hrs notice (or less). Time to be an actual team member.

If your calendar is "stacked" like a Tetris board, you'll be forever spinning your wheels➡️
3/ That said, block things that are truly important.

Like customer calls.

Even if you don't have anyone scheduled.

I once found myself going weeks w/o customer contact due to a hastily thrown together calendar. The impacts lasted months/quarters.

...and team retrospectives➡️
Read 14 tweets
1 Feb
just occurred to me that part of the product managers job is to frame decisions in a way that actually INVITES disagreement, dissent, challenge.

let me explain

it is easy to frame things that ppl will agree with (1/n)
..lots of successful product managers are good at this. The problem is that they aren't inviting other perspectives. They frame it up -- nice consultant like -- in order to sell the direction.

Nods all around. YES. But months later...

That approach gets things in motion quickly, but it doesn't lead to the best decision quality.

Now other people are so vague that neither support or dissent are possible. There's nothing to go on. No rationale whatsoever.

UM. I guess so?

This is helpful either...(3/n)
Read 4 tweets
24 Jan
the idea that remote is universally good for introverts (notwithstanding the many variations of introversion) is problematic...

1/n First, to create *any* environment that is safe and inclusive takes intention and care. It is not magic...introvert * remote=good.
2/n Case in point, there are many in-person work environments that are intentional with respect to the needs of introverts. And many remote environments that aren't...
3/n In many newly remote settings, you simply see decision making shift to smaller, select groups.

What feels comfortable and easier, is merely a reduction in collaboration, healthy tension, and transparency.

Possibly "easier" for the introvert. But not in the long term
Read 6 tweets
14 Jan
Since writing about feature factories in 2016, I've since started to referring to some orgs as "functional feature factories". What do I mean?

they deliver reasonably usable work, things don't feel dysfunctional, the reflect/adapt on how they work, but...(1/n)

12 Signs Post 👇
...they still haven't really cracked the nut .... where product development becomes the key driver for sustainable, differentiated, ethical growth and impact.

And in many ways this is a tougher situation to grapple with because stuff isn't obviously "broken".

...for many companies this is a step up from what was happening before.

So you have an issue with complacency. Why shake things up? The company is doing fine?

In many industries you can survive and even thrive...to a point. Until cant (3/end)
Read 4 tweets
11 Jan
here's a bit of advice I give to a lot of companies at my day job (@Amplitude_HQ ) re: analytics

Start By Counting Things

Skip magic metrics.
...goal setting and success metrics.
...trying to "justify" a strategy.
..."benchmarks" and what your competitors do.

...focus on counting things that happened that you care about. Stay firmly grounded in the customer domain. Name things sensibly. Add extra context with human understandable properties. Decouple counting from the interface-de-jour.

Start By Counting Things

Why? ... (2/n)
...this is the muscle you need to build.

When you can count things, the rest falls into place ... especially with a product like @Amplitude_HQ which handles the nitty/gritty of making that data useful for you.

too many teams jump straight to a silver bullet (3/n)
Read 7 tweets

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