Plays for Product

Jon Lax's speaker notes from a presentation last year is something I'm able to finally parse and apply in my work. Lots of wisdom, that allow to me be slightly less sloppy while framing how we arrive at desired outcomes, digest large and ambiguous scope into meaningful short-term impact, and perhaps most importantly, push back to try to deliver enough value to have people use the product even after the novelty wears off.

Here's a tidbit about showing more intention in our answers:

“It depends” is a terrible answer. But it feels good to say because we exist in an industry that values rapid iteration and changing its mind. It depends preserves option value.

Think about hearing “It depends” as an answer to questions, what you would take away?

Q: Captain, how do you fly your plane? A: It depends

Q: Dr. how will you perform today’s surgery? A: It depends

Q: Do you love me? A: It depends

There are two problems with answering a question with “It depends”.

First, it implies you have no conviction that you know how to do what you are great at. It means that you haven’t detected any discernible pattern that repeatedly delivers a successful outcome.

Second it isn’t true. There are a whole set of things you do, instinctively; to solve problems, write, design, research behavior, collect and analyze data. You just haven’t codified it by identifying the consistent patterns that exist.