Jan 2018 Learning

Books Read (work or professional development-related):

Articles

update: how can I be more assertive at work?

  1. “Reframe who had the power in these situations. I don’t need to network with these people, I don’t need these people to recommend me for other jobs because I do not want to work with them again. In a way, by being so upfront about their sexism they were giving me the gift of letting me know immediately not to waste my time, and the people who would be missing out on work is them, because I would never recommend them for jobs in the future and would actively discourage hiring them if I was able. Any short term jobs I miss out on now, are well worth it to form a network of people that are actually respectful that I want to keep working with.”
  2. “Give up on ever having that perfect retort that would wither them to their bones, or beautiful speech that would change their life. Instead, I wrote out some very simple, one line, adjustable scripts for every situation I’d come across.”
    1. ”You don’t need to tell me this, it’s making me uncomfortable.” + Silence. If they apologize, say you appreciate it and walk away
  3. Embrace awkward silence if you don’t want to make scene and just say your one line script. “Let me be uncomfortable without anyone ever being able to say I was being unprofessional.”

Blameless PostMortems and a Just Culture

  1. ‘Having a Just Culture means that you’re making effort to balance safety and It means that by investigating mistakes in a way that focuses on the situational aspects of a failure’s mechanism and the decision-making process of individuals proximate to the failure, an organization can come out safer than it would normally be if it had simply punished the actors involved as a remediation.’
  2. The cycle of name/blame/shame ends up with cover-your-ass engineering in which “Management becomes less aware and informed on how work is being performed day to day, and engineers become less educated on lurking or latent conditions for failure due to silence.”
  3. Understand how failures happened to that they can be learned from and to temper reactions to failure

How to Build a Successful Team

  1. “I hire the best people and get out of their way” is a nice line, but leaders need to play a hands-on role in making sure the group works well together and stays on the right priorities.
  2. Have a few simple priorities
  3. Simple shared scoreboards that affiliate all the tribes of the team so people aren’t arguing about keeping score. When you make statements in difficult conversations, “don’t make statements that include assumptions about the motivations behind someone’s behavior” and focus only on your feelings, reactions, and observations – you don’t really know what’s going on and being accusatory without evidence can derail progress.

SMART criteria Wiki

  • Specific – target an area for specific improvement. Or strategic and specific
  • Measureable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress. Or motivating
  • Assignable – specify who will do it. Or achievable
  • Realistic – given available resources. Or reasonable, resourced, relevant
  • Timebound – specify when results can be achieved. Or testable, time limited, trackable

Start-up Metric for Pirates: AARRR! and Slides

  • Acquisition – users who come to site
    • Visit Site, Landing Page, Doesn’t Abandoned (stays 10+, visits 2+ pages)
    • Comes in via, SEO, SEM, PR, Blogs, etc. other marketing channels
  • Activation – users enjoy 1st visit
    • Views x pages, does z clicks, Signs up for E-mail/Acct/Widget
    • A/B tests critical here
  • Retention – users who come back
    • E-mails Opens/RSS Clickthroughs
    • Weekly e-mails, event-based e-mails, blogs
  • Referral – users who enjoy product enough to refer to others
    • Refers users who visit site, refers users who activate site
    • Campaigns, contests, e-mails
  • Revenue – users conduct some monetization behavior
    • Users generate minimum revenue
    • Users generate break-even revenue
  • Subs, Lead Gen, etc.

Measuring What Matters: How to Pick a Good Metric

  1. Good metrics are comparative, understandable, a ratio or a rate, and changes the way you actually behave
  2. To start something, you need qualitative input from talking to people because quantitative data can be misinterpreted
  3. Look beyond Reporting Metrics and find Exploratory metrics. Look beyond lagging metrics (that have happened in the past) and look for Leading metrics that might have insight into the future – eg. rising complaints

Continuous Integration

  1. Continuous integration is software dev process where work is integrated frequently, multiple times a day, and automated builds detect integration errors as soon as possible and allows software to be developed quickly and cohesively with reduced risk
  2. Requires a maintain a single source repo with a decent source code management system
  3. Everything should be included in automated builds and have multiple environments to run tests

A day in the Life of Joe Leech, Product Consultant

  1. There’s not a single solution or framework that’s a magic bullet to solve clients’ problems. Product management should be relationship people first and build glue across organizations to do so
  2. “Startups are good at speed, big companies are good at making good decisions,” and startups and enterprise have a lot to learn from each other, he believes. Startups are lean and for them fast actions are crucial, but their people often lack the knowledge or skill to make the right decisions, he believes. “Startup founders are especially hard to work with because the company is their baby. They hate formal processes because it gets on the way of getting going.”
  3. Prioritization as PIE (potential, importance, ease)

pm@olin: Presentations (Class 9)

  1. Tell them what you’re going to say, tell, them, and tell them what you said
  2. PRES framework: Present, Reaching Out, Expressive, and Self Knowing
  3. Relatable, to audience good content, humor, and leave audience wondering for more

How to Hire the Right Person

  1. Take them on a tour and see how they respect and if they treat everyone they meet with respect. Same with taking people out for a meal
  2. Ask unusual questions so you reveal more about a person -> not brain teasers. Find natural strengths
  3. Get them to ask questions and see if they’ve done their research, care about goals and culture

The Secret to Becoming a Better Data Visualization Practitioner

  1. Be able to express all intentions behind design decisions, including citing best practices or evidence from research to show you are using logic over feelings
  2. Document unconscious choices – write down all the micro-decisions that lead you to your current state
  3. Visualize differences in decisions, be ready and practiced in whiteboarding before and after decisions

Treehouse Learning

AJAX Basics Treehouse

  • AJAX form request example and responding to a submit event
    • Select form
    • Add JQuery submit method
    • Stop form from submitting
    • Retrieve value user inputted with JQuery’s val method

$(document).ready(function() {

$(‘form’).submit(function (event) {

event.preventDefault(); // stops browsers normal reaction to event, eg prevent from leaving page in this case

var $searchField = $(‘#search’);

var $submitButton = $(‘#submit’);

$searchField.prop(“disabled”, true); // disable search field so you can’t type new text

$submitButton.attr(“disabled”, true).val(“searching…”); // as request is happenign, user gets message search is underway

// the AJAX part

var flickerAPI = “http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?jsoncallback=?”;

var animal = $searchField.val(); // capturing text user types in the field

var flickrOptions = {

tags: animal,

format: “json”

};

function displayPhotos(data) {

var photoHTML = ‘<ul>’;

$.each(data.items,function(i,photo) {

photoHTML += ‘<li class=”grid-25 tablet-grid-50″>’;

photoHTML += ‘<a href=”‘ + photo.link + ‘” class=”image”>’;

photoHTML += ‘<img src=”‘ + photo.media.m + ‘”></a></li>’;

}); // end each

photoHTML += ‘</ul>’;

$(‘#photos’).html(photoHTML);

$searchField.prop(“disabled”, false); // renable search field

$submitButton.attr(“disabled”, false).val(“Search”); // renable submit button and put value back

}

$.getJSON(flickerAPI, flickrOptions, displayPhotos);

}); // end click

}); // end ready

Understanding “this” in JavaScript

  • this is a special keyword to give access to a specific context – access values, methods, and other objects on a context basis
  • JavaScript interpreter assigns a value to this based on where it appears
    • In normal function calls
    • Within methods on object
      • This, when it’s being called by a method on an object, will always reference object itself and this.anyKey will look up any value that exists

var Portland = {

bridges: 12,

airport: 1,

soccerTeams: 1,

logNumberofBridges: function() {

console.log(“There are “ + this.bridges + “ bridges in Portland!”)

}

}

Would print There are 12 bridges in Portland!

  • Within an object that has been constructed
  • Invoked with .call. apply or bind
  • When we use a constructor function to create a new object, this will actually refer to the object that is created, nto the constructor function.
  • here’s a basic constructor function

var City = function(name, state) {

this,name = name || ‘Portland’;

this.state = state || ‘Oregon’;

};

portland = new City();  // new instance of constructor function

seattle = new City(‘Seattle’, ‘Washington’);

 

results in -> console.log(portland); console.log(seattle);

 

{ name: ‘Portland’, state: ‘Oregon’}

{ name: ‘Seattle’, state: ‘Washington’}

  • The first object is the one created without any parameters, so it defaults to Portland and Oregon.
  • The second one uses Seattle and Washington
  • They keyword does not correspond to the constructor function (city) but corresponds to the instance object itself. This basically allows you to create applications with highly replicable code
Advertisements

Dec 2017 Learning

Less reading and off-time Treehouse learning this month. Want to timebox at least 10-15 minutes a day for these.

Treehouse AJAX Basics:

  • Make sure classes correspond with html
  • Use removeClass() say after something, like a button, is selected so not all the buttons are selected for example
  • Passing data to set-up API example:
$(document).ready(function(){

  $('button').click(function () {

    $("button").removeClass("selected");

    $(this).addClass("selected");

    var flickerAPI = "http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?jsoncallback=?"; // adding JSON callback to query string

    var animal = $(this).text(); // this refers to button and text() gets text from html element

    var flickrOptions = {

      tags: animal,

      format: "json"

    };

    function displayPhotos(data) {

      var photoHTML = '<ul>';

      $.each(data.items, function(i, photo) {

          photoHTML += '<li class="grid-25 tablet-grid-50">';

          photoHTML += '<a href="' + photo.link + '" class="image">';

          photoHTML += '<img src="' + photo.media.m + '"></a></li>';

      });// loop through the array applying the callbackfunction

      photoHTML += '</ul>';

      $('#photos').html(photoHTML);

    }

    $.getJSON(flickerAPI, flickrOptions, displayPhotos); // three arguemnts, URL to resource, data we want to send with URL, callback function

  }); // function will run each time button is clicked

});

Treehouse UX Basics Tools UX-ers Use

  • Card Sorting: all different pieces of content on card and ask users to group the cards. Optimal Sort or Remote Search can be used to do remote.
  • Search Logs: understand what users are looking for
  • Content Inventories: Excel, etc. so there’s one way to look at all it
  • Beyond Philosophy defines UX as “an interaction between an organization and a customer as perceived through a customer’s conscious and subconscious mind. It is a blend of an organization’s rational performance, the sense stimulated, and the emotions evoked and intuitively measured against customer expectations across all moments of contact.”
  • Customer or User Journeys – Mapping out phases of customer’s journey and touchpoints. Identify opportunities, etc. through this process
  • Flow Diagrams: Steps user take
  • Wireframes: Diagrams or blueprints to show information relationships on pages and views
  • Comps: Showing details of specific moment of context. Think wireframes + aesthic
  • Prototypes: Show working relationships, aesthetic, and interactivity
  • Usability Testing
    • Moderating means there’s a facilitator asking questions and assigning questions
    • Unmoderated: puts together tasks while users go on their own

Treehouse UX Basics: Strategic UX

  • UX as a strategic initiative: see it at organizational or strategic level rather than immediate goals for users and see how important a task is to overall company, eg. how does getting auto quotes impact overall org’s bottom line?
  • UXers and non-UXers alike don’t agree on how to define UX
  • Your value is partnering with business and technology to emphasize with users and creates better experience and better user loyalty that brings more to bottom line
  • Selling UX means 1) Understanding what your business and technology partners value 2) Describe to them how UX meets those values in tailored responses to them by finding root causes, eg. what are the roots of wanting conversion rates. Don’t explain hows of UX but the Whys so you’re not an expense but a necessity

How to Build an Engineering Culture that Focuses on Impact

  1. Share with the engineers the value they’re creating, even if it’s “grungy but critical tasks” to let them know they’re being valued at the company
  2. Daniel Pink argues motivation comes from three key elements: autonomy, mastery, and purpose
  3. “Shape your culture through conversations and stories,” simply writing values doesn’t really mean anything

13 tips for product leaders on distributed teams

  1. Have an insider on your leadership team that can bridge cultural gaps and understand context of both languages and cultures and can mentor colleagues on both sides when it comes to improving communication
  2. Geographic gaps can multiply specialization gaps, eg business versus R&D that is compounded with distance and cultural differences
  3. If your engineers and business people look down on each other it’s your fault, create transparency and appreciation: “It might seem irrelevant to show your messaging and positioning documents to engineering or to show complex technology architecture to your sales people, but trust me, people learn to appreciate the challenges of the different roles when you surface the complexity. Animosity among colleagues usually stems from a general lack of understanding. Let members of each team shine and teams will show each other more support and respect.”

Three questions to ask yourself, before speaking to your users

  1. “What do you need to learn?”
    1. The big picture questions: who are customers, what’s their biggest problem, what do they want?
  2. “What do we need to learn right now to make progress?”
    1. Outcome of research that immediate action can be taken on
  3. “What’s the best way to learn?”
    1. Focus on doing minimum effort or method (interview versus user test) to learn

pm@olin Metrics (Class 8)

Continuous Improvement

  • PMs can create detailed factual timeline for post mortems – everyone should add what’s missing and note patterns as well as things done well and things that can improve on next time

2017 List of Wins + 2018 Look Ahead

I thought I was going to have a low-key NYE alone, but ended up going out. I still read this before, and thought it’d be good to put down a list of #wins and just things I’m thankful for this year and looking ahead for 2018.

Wins:

  1. New role at work and working on an interesting project with a team. Felt like my career moved ahead a lot after feeling a bit stalled.
  2. I read 45 books last year, most captured here on Goodreads 
  3. I lose 11 lbs without really grinding hard, just more positive lifestyle choices
  4. Saved nearly 25% of my income
  5. Figured out who and what to prioritize in my life

For Next Year:

  1. Improve on my process at work as well as attitude and results. At my current workplace, I think we have an opportunity to build a good culture – so I hope that’s something I can help do.
  2. Read more fiction this year and still definitely read 30 books as a goal
  3. Continue to go on this healthier lifestyle path (incorporating yoga into my weekly workout routine, and eating more vegetarian meals namely)
  4. Save 30% of income
  5. Actualize some travel and academic goals

November Learning

I’m trying to give myself at least half an hour during the workdays (or at least blocking two hours or so a week at least) to learn something new – namely taking classes on Treehouse, which I still have a membership to, reading job related articles, and reading job-related books. Tracking notables here as a self commitment and to retain in memory.

Treehouse UX Basics: Modeling, Testing, and Executing the Experience:

  • Modeling a solution -> demonstrates to users, eg. axure that is not the interface. Design for the experience
  • Test interface with people likely to use your product
  • Learn to present to clients and sell your work
  • Success in UX is keeping mindful of all other players at all times and being a translator between engineering, qa, account management, project management, etc.
  • Context is about predicting the right information at the right time for the user

 

Treehouse UX Basics: How UXer’s Think

  • Think big in order to think small – system thinking – match any small feature to larger experience. All parts and processes should be part of a congruent narrative
  • Empathy is different from user-centered design -> do you know how the user actually feels. Be the user advocate of users needs, goals, and tasks
  • Be able to think beyond the end user. Eg. business stakeholders in the org, coders, etc. They are also “users”
  • Think of content beyond traditional sense – eg everything on site
  • Understand how site users will be, content available, and context – think of problems to solve just beyond surface level like articles, etc.

 

Treehouse UX Basics: Tools

  • Understand who you’re communicating with, what needs to be shared, and the context
  • Conducting User Interviews: Google Forms, Survey Monkey, Ethnio

 

Treehouse Javascript: AJAX Basics

  • Make sure property names are set properly and insert into divs
  • The jQuery method if handling errors in an AJAX response is .fail()
  • The .fail() method does not work when using the .load() method or when making requests to another site
  • Application Programming Interfaces provide a method for accessing certain content using a server-side programming language: defines what you can get and how you can get it. Some let you just get it with AJAX without server side programming
  • API key acts sort of like a password, when you connect to a server, you have to send along your API key

 

10 Steps for a Successful Wiki

  1. Link to only external files when necessary
  2. You need a well-defined structure off the bat because users build habits quickly
  3. Use good tagging for search

 

What Are Wikis, and Why Should You Use Them?

  1. Flexible access for editing
  2. Hyperlinking is the power – adding quickly and linking
  3. Key uses are having an easily searchable knowledgebase and training

 

Best practices for staging environments from increment mag

  1. Staging’s purpose is the validate the known-unknowns of your systems, eg. the dependencies, interactions, and edge cases that are foreseeable by people in the company.
  2. Tests don’t account for all the possibilities that staging can.
  3. Staging should be constructed the same way as production, eg. same load balancers, deployment tooling, security group settings, etc.

 

pm@olin Class 6

  1. Launch stages: alpha, friends & family, beta, public soft launch, traditional launch
  2. Launch communications: Internal thank you notes to team and individuals. Internal/External: customer support, blog posts, homepage announcements. External: Product Hunt Post, Press Release/PR, Help Documentation, FAQs
  3. People tend to anchor on first things you say – it can be hard to keep things general when you want to (in her class notes but applies a lot to other things)

 

pm@olin Class 7

  1. Goes without saying, but complement/criticism/complement is not a good tactic compared to specific feedback
  2. Mental model for feedback, it’s information you or a person can use if they like
  3. Johari Windows -> something useful to understand relationship with themselves and others

 

Five Levels of Communication

  1. Ritual: most simple form of conversation: eg. quick hello
  2. Extended Ritual: day to day pleasantries that may change day to day – but it’s at a safe level of no danger of being misinterpreted but are the foundation of building trust and safety in interpersonal relationships
  3. Surface: What people are in place of work, eg. receiving information at meetings and giving. Talking about basic life conversations such as politics, hobbies, families, etc.
  4. Feelings (about self in relation to content): Just below surface and sharing of riskful real feelings.
  5. Feels (about us and our relationship): Greatest level of risk and involves giving honest feedback

Organizations that are able to have four and five communication can increase potential dramatically. Companies that are just between one and three can lack harmony and cohesion and the weakness is clear in crisis situations.

 

Shipping is a Feature: Some Guiding Principles for People That Build Things

  1. The hardest part of PMing is achieving clarity and maintaining a POV and vision for a product when literally everything conspires against this
  2. Figure out how to do compromises without muddling the product
  3. 10% better can be 100% different – incremental improvements can have huge effects

 

Why Most Product Launches Fail

  1. Companies can’t support fast growth
  2. Products get released too early and aren’t ready (Windows Vista)
  3. Product limbo and positioning a product to leverage a fad is a mistake
  4. If customers don’t get it quickly – it’s toast
  5. There’s no market for it even if product is revolutionary – should answer the question “Who will buy this and at what price?”

 

Engineering Management from Yishan Wong: Hiring is number one

  1. “The quality of coworkers is the single greatest determinant of workplace happiness, and fully engaged participation by everyone is the primary way by which everyone exercises direct power over making their job experience better.”
  2. Are you hiring the best or just hiring the best people you were able to interview?
  3. Hiring good candidates ensures you have a strong internal pipeline for promotion

 

Engineering Management from Yishan Wong: Engineering Management – Process

  1. Processes should only be implemented if they are specifically wanted and by the people directly involve in using it versus management who are only really thinking about command, control, coordinating, or communicating -> true costs cannot be seen in this fashion and benefits maybe illusionary
  2. Managers can figure out how to coordinate and communicate without necessarily implementing more engineering process (eg. endless jira loops)
  3. “Managers may need to psychologically contend with more chaos than they are comfortable with, but there is a huge difference between chaos that makes one uncomfortable and chaos that actually threatens the business. Stepping as close to the latter as possible confers one of the greatest advantages in the technology business: execution speed.

    Process typically builds up at a regular and roughly constant rate. Shaping this rate is therefore key to long-term efficiency. If your company has a certain amount of process at size X and it’s less than other companies of size X, you’re faster, and when you’re much much larger you’ll have less comparative bureaucracy, and the same multipliers will apply: doing things twice as fast now while you’re small helps you get things done in two weeks while your competitor needs four weeks, but once you’re large you’ll be able to do something in two years while your competitor takes another two to catch up. Two additional years might just mean the end of them.”

 

Engineering Management from Yishan Wong: Internal Promotion

  1. “A successful manager needs to understand core elements of the company culture and values, including what makes the startup uniquely successful and what steps it needs to take next. An impressive resume or even the memory of their performance by others who worked with them in larger companies is not a reliable indicator of their ability to do this.”
  2. “Source management candidates who are willing to join as individual contributors. While the company remains below a certain size, it’s is eminently possible for highly talented technology managers to join as individual contributors and rapidly rise into positions of leadership, and they should be encouraged to do so.”
  3. People who join companies because “they’re great” tend to have very different orientations and motivations (money, security, conservatism) versus those who shared early core values in a start-up. Tread carefully and have a pipeline

 

Engineering Management from Yishan Wong: Tools Are Top Priority

  1. Internal tools shouldn’t be regulated to the back office, but rather have talented engineers work on them because there’s a direct impact on operational efficiency
  2. “The quality of your tools and your ability to continue to evolve them will allow you to suppress the need to hire for operational roles, allowing each front-line individual to do more, which simultaneously improving overall coordination (fewer people means coordination is easier) and keeps costs down.”
  3. You need a foster a culture in the organization that values internal tools so your best engineers will be willing to work on them

 

Engineering Management from Yishan Wong: Technical Leaders

  1. “All external management hires must be able to write code and show a high level of technical proficiency, up to and including the head of the technical department. If the company is a technology company, this should also include the CEO.”
  2. “Leaders are unable to tell when the technical staff is not performing up to snuff, because they cannot reliably differentiate between excuses for poor technical performance and true obstacles that arise when contending with difficult technical challenges. Performance management then becomes impossible, leading to mediocre work and eventually, outright and repeated project failures.” – > the more you understand the rules of the game, the better you can play it
  3. “Unfortunately, a non-technical leader has no personal ability to gauge the actual risk profile of overriding technical suggestions (i.e. shrewdly exceeding old limits in certain special situations) and is then prone to eventually overriding technical advice which should not be overridden.”

 

PM Hack Panel Notes

Two weeks ago, I got to go PM Hack for a hot second, a hackathon for PMs and aspiring PMs put together by Jason Shen and Johanna Beyenbach and hosted by Wayup. I’m really bummed I actually only got to stay for maybe half the day because my actual PM job called me in on a Sunday, but it was definitely unique and one of the cooler initiatives I’ve seen to get people’s hands dirty on Product Management work. In a previous life, I’ve gone to hackathons as a developer, and there is something really inspiring, educational, and rewarding about working with a group of strangers to create something workable in a matter of hours or days.

One thing I did get to stay for an enjoy was a panel by some esteemed folks in the business so to speak – so I thought I’d put down my notes here to keep top of mind:

pmhackpanel.jpg

Some awesome Product Managers: Elan Miller (Midnight), Inga Chen (Squarespace), Lauren Ulmer (Dormify), and Joan Huang (Flatiron Health)

  • Emotional intelligence > IQ in PM roles
  • You need to understand yourself and your vision first
  • Constant tension at work between tending to firedrills v longer range thinking -> one key to working on this is working internal marketing for buy-in on longer term strategy
  • Good pms are always obsessing or communicating and good listening
  • Status update at right level of context – know how to communicate to junior level devs to executives
  • Saying no is a part of your job
  • Your job is to also bring the team and org together
  • Be cognizant of what step of the product life cycle are you able to work in and think about what is possible to change and is it possible
  • Team Cultures (build it out) + Users (joy)
  • Managing different dependencies across teams is key
  • Your job is to also define and interpret metrics correctly
  • The bigger the org the more stakeholder communication versus direct time to users
  • Be careful not to over optimize for the negative vocal batch of users versus the majority of users
  • As with everything, it’s right place right time with right skill set so you gotta angle to make to happen
  • GV Design Sprint can be a useful problem solving process
  • When you’re interviewing for a PM job: communicate you know a company’s business when you interview :
    • Mini deck to intro yourself, how you can solve company’s problem, and show you’ve done your hw and are more than your resume
    • Understand levers to business model (how does business makes money)
    • Apply to fewer jobs and make sure you’re interested in problems the product is trying to solve
    • Find side projects outside of your typical product development life cycle
    • Treat yourself as a product
    • Having a POV and being polarizing can be an advantage
    • Remember you can help them with particular problem you’re trying to solve even if you aren’t from that vertical – you could be bringing a fresh perspective to their problems

Oct Learning

Just my “three key points” notes from various reading I thought was work helpful this month:

PSFK Advertising Playbook Overview

  1. Experiential marketing now is the most critical tool
  2. Shift from ads to customer relationships and decline of online ads
  3. Emotional connections realign brands -> engineered enjoyment, contextual calibration, and third space communities are opportunities

 

Knowns vs Unknowns — Are you building a successful company or just typing?

  1. First known unknown is that you envision a product that solves a problem that a small group of users have
  2. Engineer’s primary job isn’t really writing code per se, but improving product for you users
  3. “What I often hear from CEOs is that “my CTO thinks we need to rebuild the backend so it’s scaleable.” The reality is that if you haven’t yet solved for the product’s scaleable and repeatable growth, you don’t know what the backend needs to be. If you’ve hired people that care more about the programming languages/frameworks and not the KPIs of your product, you’ll constantly have this internal battle. Remind them that writing software is the easy part. Building a company that scales isn’t.”

6 lessons learned about technical debts management in Silicon Valley

  1. Product always needs to be improved and have tech debts happening at once (80/20 rule)
  2. Top Down vision on the importance of these debts “It is not about the money you can make, it is about the money you won’t lose”
  3. Before you kill features, identify who are using it, find an alternative, and explain why you are killing a feature

IGNORE EVERYTHING BETWEEN THE CLOUDS AND DIRT

  • “This is because the vast majority of people tend to play the middle—they focus on the vague minutiae that doesn’t matter”
  • Two things happen when you’re too focused on the middle:
    • You’re only successful to a certain level and then hit a plateau
    • You get stuck in one of two extremes: you get stuck either because you become too romantic on ideals and neglect the skills you need to execute or you get tied up in minutiae or politics and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Unit Economics

  1. “Unit economics are the direct revenues and costs associated with a particular business model expressed on a per unit basis.” Eg Lifetime Value, Customer Acquisition Cost (CPA)
  2. What you want to do as a product manager is increase average rev per user (ARPU), increase customer lifetime, and drive expansion revenue from existing cusotmers
  3. Make sure you know what your most profitable segment is and what their composite is of the user base

pm@olin: Buildiing (Class 5)

  1. Understand your personal work and productivity style
  2. Understand the style of your team and tailor your project management to the team – being cognizant of your personal style
  3. Understand your software processes (eg. Waterfall or Agile) and bug triage

Offshore Development: Pluses and Minuses for Product Managers

  1. Hard part is to learn and understand the team and learn what makes them tick and how you can leverage all this and control for issues such as different work cultures and different accents over conference phones
  2. Get to know them and make sure they know you
  3. Keep them informed, establish routines (especially communicating with remote team lead and holding them accountable, hold all-team meetings semi-frequently), and leverage tools

How we develop great PM / Engineering relationships at Asana

  1. Semi-formalized way for sharing leadership and credit
  2. Remember mantra product owns the problems and engineering owns solutions
  3. ‘Clarify roles and reinforce them with mutual respect’

Learning Tracking September 2017

I’m trying to give myself at least half an hour during the workdays (or at least blocking two hours or so a week at least) to learn something new – namely taking classes on Treehouse, which I still have a membership to, reading job related articles, and reading job-related books. Tracking notables here as a self commitment and to retain in memory.

Treehouse

UX Basics Key Takeaways

  • Gather data about user behaviors, goals, and needs
    • Do this with user interviews, quant data (logs and analytics), and surveys
    • Be sure to analyze behavior types, and not just audience segments
  • Always answer the Q: “What is it the product we are working on provides for this behavior type?”
  • Manage content inventory: What exists (eg form values), gaps, and analyze

Ajax Handling Errors Key Takeaways

  • XHR request object contains important info about errors

Articles + Three Takeaways

Paying Down Your Technical Debt

  1. “If the debt grows large enough, eventually the company will spend more on servicing its debt than it invests in increasing the value of its other assets.”
  2. “Accumulated technical debt becomes a major disincentive to work on a project. It’s a collection of small but annoying things that you have to deal with every time you sit down to write code. But it’s exactly these small annoyances, this sand grinding away in the gears of your workday, that eventually causes you to stop enjoying the project.”
  3. Becomes a source of fear, dread, and loathing for teams so you should periodically service your debt

Evidence Based Scheduling

  1. Break tasks into hours (nothing longer than 16 hours) so it forces you to figure out what to do
  2. Keep timesheets tracking data for historical use
  3. Simulate the future

“But you can never get 4n from n, ever, and if you think you can, please email me the stock symbol for your company so I can short it.”

Reddit and Facebook Veteran On How to Troubleshoot Troublemakers aka “Debugging Coders”

  1. Job is not getting stuff to do people for you, it’s figuring out how to do something together.
  2. ‘The exact behaviors that make it so that the organization can stay alive, move fast, be scrappy can be exactly the same actions that cause a negative disruption later in the life of your company,” says Blount. “Troublemaking brings signs of large tectonic shifts, releasing pressure into the atmosphere. Specific rumblings are almost all borne fundamentally of some kind of frustration: moving too fast, not moving fast enough, taking too few or too many risks. These are signals — and opportunities — to assess underlying changes and growth in an organization.”’
  3. For nostalgia junkies (people who like the company that ‘way it use to be’), focus on the question: “What about next week bothers you?” and for the Trend Chasers – gotta measure the risks, what happens with this route over the next year, deploying it and rolling it out?

How do managers* get stuck?

  1. Failing to manage down: need to delegate, train team, pay attention to process, and say no
  2. Failing to manage sideways: build peer relationships, look for additional tasks, create a vision, become someone you’d like to report to
  3. Failing to manage up: attend to details, complains but doesn’t fix, drags outside of comfort zone, show yourself professionally to higher ups

How do individual contributors get stuck?

  1. “Everyone has at least one area that they tend to get stuck on. An activity that serves as an attractive sidetrack. A task they will do anything to avoid.”
  2. “When you know how people get stuck, you can plan your projects to rely on people for their strengths and provide them help or even completely side-step their weaknesses. You know who is good to ask for which kinds of help, and who hates that particular challenge just as much as you do.”
  3. “Knowing the ways that you get hung up is good because you can choose to either a) get over the fears that are sticking you (lack of knowledge, skills, or confidence), b) avoid such tasks as much as possible, and/or c) be aware of your habits and use extra diligence when faced with tackling these areas.”