Author Archive | David

Category Design

Increased choice among goods and services may contribute little or nothing to the kind of freedom that counts. Indeed, it may impair freedom by taking time and energy we’d be better off devoting to other matters.

Barry Schwartz The Paradox of Choice

Putting things swiftly in categories is a quirk of our minds to deal with complexity.

Our brains are governed by more that fifty different cognitive biases that push us toward decisions based not on facts and logic. It’s a shortcut system in our brain–a way to make decisions faster and easier, especially when overwhelmed by too much information.

Play Bigger: How Rebels and Innovators Create New Categories and dominate Markets

Category design is the mindful creation and development of a new market category, designed so the category will pull in customers who will then make the company its king.

Defining a new category, designing it will increase your chances of success. This includes defining and marketing the problem, then you can help people understand that you are best placed to solve the problem better than anyone else.
This is not about first mover advantage. This is about making it easy for customers to understand the category of problem that you are solving. If done successfully customers will come to associate you with the category, then due to our cognitive biases, it becomes very hard for competitors to replace you.

Seven areas where Product Managers need to lean in

I’m enjoying Todd Birzer’s Becoming a More Strategic Product Manager. It is part of my learning journey to become a more business focused designer. Product management thinking is an essential skill set for anyone working in tech. For maximum impact there are seven key areas where product managers need to lean in:

  • Customer analysis: Collect stories from users to get a deep understanding of what they need. Stories work best to ignite empathy for customers across teams.
  • Competitive analysis: Have deep understanding of what your competitors are doing and where the next disruptions are likely to come from.
  • Strategy: Have a bold vision that inspires the team. Be clear on where you want to play and how you are planning to win. Read Roger Martin’s Playing to win: How strategy really works for more on strategy.
  • Prioritization and roadmapping: Roadmaps helps visualize and communicate strategy and prioritization helps teams focus on high impact features.
  • Discovery and Delivery “Discovery and delivery is best driven by a small empowered team–typically a product manager, a user experience designer, and an engineering lead. Prototyping, experimentation, and rapid customer feedback are all part of this process.”
  • Pricing “…intelligent price changes can be one of the fastest and most effective ways to increase margins.”
  • Finding growth “Generating revenue, profit, and share growth is a central job of product management.”

Understanding the Mind

Sam Harris quotes that I wrote down without getting the source. They are from the lessons and interviews in the Waking Up App which I love as I am delving deeper into mindfulness. Also recommended is the Making Sense Podcast.

…to recognize how consciousness is prior to thinking, reacting, or trying to change your experience, in any way at all, can be the most important thing you ever learn to do.

…a choice between noticing what arises in your mind, and not noticing…

When you are suffering you are lost in thought.

Diversifying your life

I loved How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams. I lost the book at Houston airport. Maybe it was meant to be. I hope that whoever picked it up enjoyed it and found it valuable. I don’t think the quotes below come from the book, they are from Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. Scott Adams is featured in the book.

This involves choosing projects and habits that even if they result in failures in the eyes of the outside world, give you transferable skills or relationships.

Diversification works in almost every area of your life to reduce your stress.

Quotes from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Quotes from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari.

In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power.

Humans think in stories rather than in facts, number or equations, and the simpler the story, the better.

The revolutions in biotech and infotech are made by engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists who are hardly aware of the political implications of their decisions, and who certainly don’t represent anyone.

It is much harder to struggle against irrelevance than against exploitation.

But liberalism has no obvious answers to the biggest problems we face: ecological collapse and technological disruption.

The next decades might therefore be characterized by intense soul-searching and by formulating new social and political models.

The book seems even more relevant now that COVID-19 has intensified the crises we are facing. In a Financial Times article on 20 March 2020 Harari writes:

In this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity.