Coming mid 2021. Based on my podcast interviews with product leaders. This is an except from chapter zero.
It started with a hotel company, well actually five hotel companies.
Early in my career I worked for a large hotel search website in the UK called LateRooms.com
A major competitor, LastMinute.com, had launched a feature. A way to get inspiration for where to go on vacation. “Free this weekend? Why not travel to Bath?” LateRooms were concerned. Why had the competition launched this feature? What did they know that we didn’t know? They’d called me in because they wanted to do the same thing. So we recreated that feature, we did some usability testing, people could use it, we made some superficial improvements and we launched it… …and it failed. Not long afterwards LastMinute.com removed that very same feature.
We’d made a classic bad decision. Thinking the competitions had some secret insight and blindly copying them. Then it happened again; a year later I did a project with Hotels.com to copy a feature from LateRooms.com. The hotel industry was obsessed with the competition.
Since then I’ve been fortunate to work for many hotels companies. I’ve worked with Expedia, Marriott and Ritz Carlton and most recently with Booking.com
If you know anything about the hotel industry you’ll know that Booking.com came from no-where to become a $15 Billion dollar a year company. From 2007 to 2014 they grew by 20% a year.
In writing this book I interviewed Booking.com’s Sarvesh Govindappa. 🎧 You can listen to the podcast interview. I asked him what Booking.com’s advantage was:
When we are planning we focus on the problem space. It’s not the time to obsess about the competition.Sarvesh Govindappa (Booking.com / Rentalcars.com)
That’s Booking.com’s secret. A single minded focus on the problem.
Match that to their other advantage; a programme of constant improvement. Test and learn, try ideas and if they don’t work, move on. The data makes the decisions, not egos, not consensus and not the competition. The market decides if it likes what you are doing. Successful companies like Booking.com work that to their advantage.
Modern business decision making is no longer done by the seasoned exec reading a report and coming up with a new idea on a corporate retreat.
Nor is it hiring a set of smart Don Drapers from a management consultancy or a cool agency to present you the next big thing.
Successful decision making is driven by the customer. Direction is set by the leadership team, agile, customer focused teams deliver multiple competing solutions and the market decides. Improvement is constant, failure is a given; I ask each successful leader about failure, how they deal with it, how they move on, how they plan to fail.
That’s what this book is about. Learning from successful companies like Booking.com, YouTube, WordPress and more about how they plan what to build and when to build it, how they improve, how they seem to always get it right.
This book will set you and your team up to Make Better Decisions.