10x not 10% Product Management

It’s often easier to make something 10x better than it is to make it 10% better. – Astro Teller, Google [x]

10x Not 10% : Product management by orders of magnitude by Ken Norton at Mind the Product 2015 from MindTheProduct on Vimeo.

Ken Norton in this talk emphasizes the importance of having a 10x mindset when solving product problems and how it should be a way of thinking.

Photo Credit: Ken Norton

He gives the example above where most companies make decisions based on the option that has the highest probability of success rather than the option that has lowest probability of success but the highest outcome without looking at the expected values of each option.

It shouldn’t matter if you work for a large company or a small startup. The following are some principles you can apply in order to start thinking in a 10x way:

Failure must be an option 

Great work comes overtime by repition and learning by failure. In product management, the more you ship the better the quality of the products you ship become. “Pefection is the enemy of progress” quote applies here.

People want to do great work, let them

Majority of the time people perform their best when they get to work on problems that interest them. Google is famous for giving their employees 20% time, other innovative companies have hack days every quarter. Moreover, transparency is a key component to this so that every team member knows what everyone else is working on. Default to open policy allows better collaboration and creates the environment for people to their best work.

Use data, not opinions

By backing your decisions with data, teams move faster becuase less time is spent arguing and more time testing assumptions to see what works and what doesn’t.

Measure impact, not effort

As product managers it’s easy to get caught up in the nitty gritty details of launching a feature like managing bugs in a que or number of engineers involved. Instead to obtain the 10x mindset it’s important to measure the impact. “We will have accomplished this” not “we need to do that”

Be bothered by limitations

Limitations will always be there in every project. To really make that leap from 10% improvement to 10x results you can’t surrender to limiatations but instead be bothered by them.

Bet on trends

Timing definitely plays a huge role in launching successful products. Achieving that 10x result can be a lot about launching something at the right time. Slack and Periscope are two companies I think have taken advantage of that. Instant messaging within work was  available through products like Basecamp’s Campfire product but the adoption wasn’t there when 37Signals originally launched Campfire. Same with Periscope, Livestream had a similar product way before periscope but cell phone devices didn’t have the resolution or speed when they originally launched.

To learn more about these principles I recommend reading Ken Norton’s original post on medium that talks more about this. These principles definitely have allowed me to shift my product management approach and the way I solve problems. How will you shift your thinking from 10% to 10x?

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Zain Abiddin is an Entrepreneur & Product Manager. He is the founder and Product Manager of Chillik Media, a design led software agency based in San Francisco.

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