• Freedom and Autonomy

    In a digital world where innovation is key, where data is flowing freely both inside and outside the company, and where change is constant, work has become increasingly complex, changeable, and informal in nature.

    As a result, an organization needs to get rid of its traditional hierarchy—which mainly promotes people having interactions with others in their own department—in favor of a system which encourages input and collaboration from people with different skill sets across functions internally and externally with partners and customers.

    Therefore, leaders need to focus on bringing strong people together and giving them greater freedom to generate ideas and execute them through collaboration.

    A leader should articulate what needs to be done and why, and then let the team decide how to do it.

    She will set things in motion, guide her team, and clear the obstacles when the team is in trouble.

    This has similarities with the role of a product manager. She will have to work cross‐ functionally with teammates and stakeholders, lead, influence, motivate, and trust them—without ever ordering them to do anything.

    She will ensure they are motivated and know what their purpose is. She will coach them and help them develop in a safe environment. She will connect the dots internally and externally to empower her team with additional information, better tools, and efficiency.

    She will ensure that they have the data they need to experiment and iterate quickly, as well as the autonomy to make informed decisions based on their learning. She will clarify the chaos in a world where change is a constant.

    EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products (Silicon Valley Product Group) by Marty Cagan

  • Any enterprise, whether a company, society, nation, church, social venture, school, hospital, military unit, orchestra, team, or any other human organization, faces a constant struggle to find the balance between continuity and change. No human enterprise can succeed at the highest levels without consistency; if you bring no coherent unifying concept and disciplined methodology to your endeavors, you’ll be whipsawed by changes in your environment and cede your fate to forces outside your control. Equally true, however, no human enterprise can succeed at the highest levels without productive evolution.

    — Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All (Good to Great Book 5) by Jim Collins, Morten T. Hansen

  • A SMaC recipe is a set of durable operating practices that create a replicable and consistent success formula. The word “SMaC” stands for Specific, Methodical, and Consistent. You can use the term “SMaC” as a descriptor in any number of ways: as an adjective (“ Let’s build a SMaC system”), as a noun (“ SMaC lowers risk”), and as a verb (“ Let’s SMaC this project”). A solid SMaC recipe is the operating code for turning strategic concepts into reality, a set of practices more enduring than mere tactics. Tactics change from situation to situation, whereas SMaC practices can last for decades and apply across a wide range of circumstances.

    — Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All (Good to Great Book 5) by Jim Collins, Morten T. Hansen

  • Trust comes from being a part of a culture or organization with a common set of values and beliefs. Trust is maintained when the values and beliefs are actively managed. If companies do not actively work to keep their Golden Circle in balance — clarity, discipline and consistency — then trust starts to break down. A company, indeed any organization, must work actively to remind everyone WHY the company exists. WHY it was founded in the first place. What it believes.

    They need to hold everyone in the company accountable to the values and guiding principles. It’s not enough to just write them on the wall — that’s passive. Bonuses and incentives must revolve around them. The company must serve those whom they wish to serve it.

    — Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

  • The product vision is what drives and inspires the company and sustains the company through the ups and downs. This may sound straightforward, but it’s tricky. That’s because there are two very different types of product leaders needed for two very different situations:

    • Where there is a CEO or a founder who is the clear product visionary
    • Where there is no clear product visionary—usually in situations where the founder has moved on

    There are two very bad situations you may encounter related to product vision and strategy.

    The first is when you have a CEO who is very strong at product and vision, but she wants to hire a VP product (or, more often, the board pushes her to hire a VP product), and she thinks she should be hiring someone in her own image—or at least visionary like her. The result is typically an immediate clash and a short tenure for the VP product. If this position looks like a revolving door, it’s very possible that’s what’s going on.

    The second bad situation is when the CEO is not strong at vision, but she also hires someone in her own image. This doesn’t result in the clash (they often get along great), but it does leave a serious void in terms of vision, and this causes frustration among the product teams, poor morale across the company, and usually a lack of innovation.

    The key here is that the VP product needs to complement the CEO. If you have a strong, visionary CEO, there may be some very strong VP product candidates that won’t want the position because they know that, in this company, their job is primarily to execute the vision of the CEO.

    — INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love (Silicon Valley Product Group) by Marty Cagan

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