Joe Leech

S1 E10 Optimising for Decision Making with Selena Hadzibabic

I’m joined by Selena Hadzibabic. Selena is VP of product for the global wedding company the Knot Worldwide. You might know them as Hitched in the UK, Wedingwire in North America and India. We talk optimising decision making, decisions now or later and how to asses the competitions’ decisions.



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Show Notes

Transcript

[00:00:00] If you’re sensing fuzziness, if you’re sensing confusion, then you have to ask yourself, like, how can we learn more about this to make a better quality decision?

[00:00:18] Hello, welcome to making better decisions to podcasts for digital product people. I’m your host, Mr. Joe leech. I’m a product coach, speaker writer, and author. Each episode, I talked to a product leader from a startup. Up or large enterprise about one thing, how they make decisions today I’m joined by cylinder.

[00:00:37] Hat’s aback. Cylinder is VP of products for the global wedding company than not. You might know them as hitched the UK and wedding wire in North America and India. How are you doing? I’m doing great. Thank you. How are you? Okay. Good. Thank you. Good. So tell us a little bit about you. Who are you? What do you do?

[00:00:56] The company you work for? [00:01:00] So my name is . It’s a tough, last name, but I’ve been fortunate in my professional life. Not to be surrounded by many Selonas. So the first name tends to suffice. I’ve been, I’ve been in product management. I’ve been solving people problems with software is how I like to think about it.

[00:01:17] For about 15 years, I started in the recruitment space. Then I spent a little time working on subscription commerce, and now I’m at a company called The Knot Worldwide. We are a global family of brands, really that inspire, inform and celebrate our communities in their life’s biggest moments. And we’re probably best known for our wedding planning products though.

[00:01:40] So that’s the knot and wedding wire in the U S that’s hitched in the UK, bought us in Spain and, and many, many others in, in Europe, Latin America, and, and in India. Wow. Interesting. Interesting. It’s such a fascinating world, the world of getting married. You know, if you’ve got, if any of you who’ve been through it, you know, [00:02:00] that it seems like quite a simple thing when you start and then when you get into digging, it becomes quite a world opens up to you.

[00:02:06] So it’s, it’s a world that I’ve found interesting for years, so fantastic. I’m looking for fascinating. And in terms of. I feel like a recruitment was pretty close to it, but I just feel like I’m working on such an important people problem, you know, because like you say, you know, obviously when you, when you get engaged, the thing that’s most on your mind is how happy you are.

[00:02:26] Right? And, and then you start planning this wonderful celebration and it’s a ton of work and most people have never previously planned a wedding, nor will they ever plan one again, they certainly don’t expect to. And so it’s, it’s not something that they know how to do that that are experts in. It’s not even something they’re looking to become experts in, but it’s this incredibly important, emotionally important, financially taxing and, uh, and organizationally complicated project, essentially.

[00:02:57] And, and you know, and you’re right about that. And that, that [00:03:00] complexity, that organizationally complicated thing where you, you don’t want to become an expert, but you sort of along the way you find out you are, but like you say, there’s often no dry run. It’s like, everything is just for the, for that one day is that can be quite a.

[00:03:12] An intense experience. I’m guessing for, for people getting married. And I remember it being quite an intense experience, all of, all of the moving parts and everything like that, the emotional roller coaster Israel, because in so many ways, you’re at the highest of highs, but then the, the so many things that can go right in so many things that can go wrong and inevitably something does go wrong.

[00:03:35] And, and so th th th there’s a lot sort of, for people to cope with. Interesting. Interesting stuff. Okay. So, so talk us through then any kind of, so again, when we talk about decisions and decision-making on this podcast, can you talk us through a recent or a previous product decision you’ve had to make in your organization?

[00:03:56] Talk us through. What it was, how it went or those kinds of [00:04:00] things. Yeah. , well, I, the, the, I think of product decisions that we have to make are in two buckets, there’s the prioritization, like what should we even be doing? What should we be working on? And then there’s the execution. Right. Okay. We’ve agreed that we’re going to work on this.

[00:04:14] Like, how are we going to execute on it? I think that when it comes to decisions, . And execution. I think that our partners in UX actually have like more interesting stories to tell, because at the end of the day, it comes down to really like putting stuff in front of users as quickly as possible. You know, whether, whether in sort of qualitative user testing or getting into a quantitative AB test, but at the end of the day, putting stuff in front of people as quickly as possible.

[00:04:41] But the prioritization decisions are, this is something we’re constantly making. And they are rarely easy. So it’s, it’s a little hard to talk you through the details of a specific product decision. So I’ll have to kind of tiptoe here around what I, what I can and cannot share, but to talk [00:05:00] about our prioritization process, we follow quarterly OKR planning.

[00:05:04] And so every quarter we take a look at roughly what is the next four quarters out look like and super detailed. What does the next quarter look like? What are the opportunities on the table and what do we think that we should prioritize? And on the one hand, you know, the, the. The goal is simple. We simply want to prioritize the work that will drive the greatest impact for the customer and business.

[00:05:28] It sounds very uncomplicated, but of course it’s rife with the debates. Right? What impact, what do we define as impact? What, what does greatest mean? Right? How do we, how do we estimate which of our, you know, potential ideas or opportunities is going to indeed drive the greatest impact? And, and in some businesses, I think that there’s maybe more or less struggle around like defining the value for the customer versus the value for the business.

[00:05:55] Something I, I love at the not worldwide is that [00:06:00] the, we have what I call a healthy business model. Right. So generally, if we’re creating value for the customers, we’re creating value for the business. Like we don’t spend a lot of time sort of talking about like who should win in that kind of a debate.

[00:06:12] Okay. Situations, I think in, in, in some businesses where that maybe happens more, or maybe it’s more a matter of, sort of short-term versus long-term, right? Like, do we prioritize some sort of short-term gain over, over a long-term investment? Right. So, so those debates can get very hard the way we always go about making those decisions is, again, let’s try to piece this apart, right?

[00:06:36] Like if we want to prioritize the work that will drive the greatest impact. Let’s unpack that. Right. So what do we mean by impact? First of all, again, at the highest level revenue. Sure. But presumably you’ve, you’ve, you’ve debated a little bit what your strategy should be to drive that revenue. Right. And so maybe you have a little bit more focused than that, right?

[00:06:57] Depending also like. Know, I’m thinking about the [00:07:00] product folks listening to this podcast, like depending on the level that you’re at, right? Like presumably somebody has done a little bit of work ahead of you and maybe said, you know, for the next couple of quarters, our focus really needs to be acquisition.

[00:07:11] That’s where the biggest opportunity is at, or, or conversely acquisition is fine. We need to invest in engagement. Right. Perhaps you are that person whose job it is to do that. Right. In, in which case, yeah. You’ll get to kind of take a look at like, what, what are those. Higher level opportunities to drive revenue.

[00:07:28] And where is there the biggest opportunity? I think when, when people think about opportunity, this is where we often fall into traps because we start to say things like to pick an example, like, let’s say, you know, Hey, 20% of our customers are like buying this product that we just shipped. Right. We just added.

[00:07:45] 20% are buying this product. That’s not bad, but Hey, if 40% of people bought this product make twice as much money too. Great. You can tell there’s conversations. Cause it starts with only 20% are buying this on you. You just know that that’s such a loaded statement. Yeah, [00:08:00] exactly. And so like, like mathematically, that is an accurate statement.

[00:08:03] Yes. If 20% of people buy something, we make a certain amount of money. And if twice, as many people bought that we will make twice as much money, but I call that the theoretical opportunity. Right. And, and it’s, it’s not that it’s a waste of it. It’s time to consider the theoretical opportunity. Cause sometimes even when you consider the theoretical opportunity or like, yeah, that’s not that much money.

[00:08:24] Right. So like let’s maybe not concerns with that. Right. And you kind of get it off your plate. But, but let’s say that that theoretical opportunities, in fact, it’s citing that like that could be a lot of money, right. That where we get into hot water is that we usually end the conversation in that. Right.

[00:08:37] But what the next step really needs to be is does 40% of the market want this. What if there aren’t 40% of people out there who even want this product, like if you gave it to them for free, they would throw it out. And so the really important point and like moment in understanding your opportunity is like understanding actual [00:09:00] opportunity.

[00:09:00] Right. So if I go out there and survey people and it turns out like 90% of our market wants to buy this product, then like 20% really is only we have not maximized this opportunity. Let’s go after that. Right. But if, if the, if the max is 30%. Then suddenly my 20% isn’t so bad. And it’s not to say that there isn’t more to be gained here, obviously there’s that gap of 10%.

[00:09:22] But, but you start to be much less excited about that than, than had the answer. I know it’s going to be a battle for that 10%. It’s not gonna be an easy 10%. Is it? That’s going to be a difficult 10%. You’re bringing me exactly to the next point, which is like, How available is that opportunity to us, right.

[00:09:38] So is that 10% out there? Right. And, and if you can find that 10% and if you were to talk to them, would they be like, I just didn’t know it was out there. I’ve been looking for this all my life. Right. So like, okay, like I’ve got a discoverability problem. They’re out there. Nobody’s offering this to them. I need to work on it.

[00:09:55] Discoverability awareness, acquisition. And, and I’ll bump up that 20%, right. [00:10:00] On the flip side. If, if you can find that 10% and, and, and talk to them and they’re like, I’m extremely loyal to your competitor brand and you will never snag me away from them. First of all don’t trust them, but because we never say never, but, but, but that is gonna be a different different road, right?

[00:10:18] That is going to be a much higher level of challenge for you to conquer. Then if, if these sort of consumers are out there for the taking so to speak. So yeah. How available is that opportunity to us? So, so one aspect is, is anybody else solving this problem, right? Like, do we have competition here? How well are they solving that problem?

[00:10:34] When we look at their solution, are there, are there. Failings, are there, are there sort of miss missing bits of that solution where, where we can wedge ourselves in? Right. So like, is there an actual opportunity we can tackle? The other piece is, is the people problem solvable? Right. So I think about this a lot because in wedding planning, as we just reflected briefly, a lot of problems are really emotional problems and not [00:11:00] necessarily practical problems.

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[00:11:01]  Joe Leech: [00:11:01] It’s those prioritization decisions you’re thinking about? Well, you know, can we do this? What’s the opportunity, like theoretical versus actual, and then you’ve got to remember that. Like you say, what a quarter, two quarters, three quarters later on when you get to the execution phase to go get, why are we doing this again?

[00:11:19] And not, I suppose not straight back into the things that you’d already decided not to do for all the reasons you discussed before. 

[00:11:25] Selena Hadzibabic: [00:11:25] That’s the most common waste of time, is if you, if you didn’t go deep enough into the debate and you didn’t really like resolve a, , all of the ambiguity’s. No just for the team that you’ve asked to execute on this, but, but for, for any stakeholders, for any cross-functional team members that are involved, if yeah, if you don’t go deep enough, if you don’t clarify that it’ll really cost you months in execution, thrash, you’ll end up building the wrong stuff, then you’ll ship it.

[00:11:52] Then it will work. You’ll be surprised that doesn’t work. Cause you got disconnected from the fact that like the team started building towards a different [00:12:00] end goal, then you’ll, then you’ll dive back in and be like, how come this didn’t work, then you’ll uncover that there was misalignment. And at that point you’ve just lost sprints and sprints and sprints of effort.

[00:12:11] Right. So, yeah, but belaboring, those things up front is, is very well worth it. And additionally, like you can also belabor it a ton upfront and document everything. That doesn’t mean that confusion won’t arise along the way. And you have to nip it in the bud the minute you see it. Right. Don’t don’t let any fuzziness linger.

[00:12:31] I like that comment. They don’t have any friends in this lingo. It’s that point where you say you need to go into just enough detail in that prioritization phase to make, feel, feel comfortable in making that right choice thing. I guess you can communicate that choice when you get to execute that you can, then if you need to fill in any gaps, do it later on.

[00:12:49] Now now, now for some classic product management fund. Cause, cause the answer to all our questions is like, it depends. Right? So, so I was just making a point about how it’s really important to go deep and debate it and like get, you know, like [00:13:00] debate the nuance. On the flip side, there are situations where going much deeper doesn’t make any sense.

[00:13:06] Right? So for example, I was saying earlier, sometimes we start from a theoretical understanding of an opportunity, right? 20% of people do X if twice as many did it, we’d be twice better off. First of all, if you look at that and you’re like, yeah. And if we accomplish that, we’ll make another $10,000. Like.

[00:13:24] You might not want to get out of bed for that. Right. And so who cares if you’ve got that 10% wrong? Right? Like who cares? If you know what it wasn’t 10 K it turns out it was 15 K right? If like that order of magnitude doesn’t matter to your company, it doesn’t matter that you were off by five Gates.

[00:13:41] Similarly, let’s say I I’ve got. I’m looking at like three opportunities and, and I can choose one. That’s just, that’s what I can take on right now. Right? If the, if the difference in our sort of estimated it back to those three opportunities is something like 500 K 1 million and 2 million. Again, I don’t care [00:14:00] if we’re off on all of them by 20%, it’s really obvious that we should go after the 2 million opportunity and six months from now, I might.

[00:14:07] Explaining how like, ah, we overestimated, we’re actually gonna max out at 1.5. It turns out the rest of the users don’t really need this thing the way we thought they needed. Right. But that’s all fine. Like we’re still going to get to that 1.5 million and we won’t have wasted time worrying. Like, was that 500 K actually 600 K doesn’t matter.

[00:14:24] It was less than 2 million. Right. On the flip side, you might have a situation where let’s say you’ve got opportunities that are much tighter, tighter together. Right? Like you’ve narrowed it down to two and they’re like, You know, one is 1 million, 1.2, and the other one is 1.1, two, one, 1.3. So you were like, really can’t tell them apart, right?

[00:14:44] Well, that’s where you start to look at other factors. Right? Okay. So like that’s just the impact. Now let’s go back to what we were talking about. Well, what is the people problem where we need to solve here? Is it a bunch of users out there with a completely unmet need frustrated [00:15:00] and just waiting for anybody to give them anything?

[00:15:02] Half good. Is it a bunch of consumers fiercely loyal to a competitor in love with that solution. And, and, you know, wrestling them away will be a different challenge. Right. So then, then we start to look at like, what, what sort of level of effort are we talking about? And it’s not always just engineering effort, right?

[00:15:24] Like you might have a, maybe you uncovered that you have a brand perception problem. Right. So, so it’s not necessarily just in the coding, you might need to go coordinate with your marketing team and say like, Hey, this is our brand perception right now. If we want to sell this product, we need to nudge it.

[00:15:36] How do we do that? Right. So you start to look at other factors, right? Like they impact really can’t break the tie. Like where’s our confidence. Where’s, where’s, where’s the lower level of effort. Where do we have greater in-house expertise and what may be aligns better to sort of other parts of the product strategy, right?

[00:15:56] You start to look at those other tiebreakers. [00:16:00] I like the way you talk there about that, that concept of impact. So it’s not just a financial impact. It started, there’s some sort of other impact in other parts of what you’re trying to do, like a huge unmet need that could, you know, Transformed people’s feelings towards you, you know, which is again, I think sometimes in product management, we, we struggle with the things that we can’t measure, like emotional impact and things like that.

[00:16:21] Absolutely. No, and I mean, I’ll be the first to confess to it. I struggled immensely with the things I can measure. I want to measure everything. Life is so much easier when you can measure things and five is bigger than three and then you know how to make your decision. But, but yeah, it’s not easy. We still get to do it.

[00:16:39] And with some of those things as well. Do you, do you ever attempt to quantify those as the other elements you’ve talked about revenue, something you do quantify? Absolutely. Yeah. So, so again, in, in, in wedding planning, there’s a very, a big emotional aspect of that experience, right? People are overwhelmed or frustrated or worried or confused or feel like they [00:17:00] don’t know where they are.

[00:17:01] Right. Like. Done some things I know there’s more to do. I can’t tell if I’m doing well or not. Like, am I on track or off track in this plant? And yeah, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll use things like, uh, surveys a lot, you know, to, to try to sort of discern, like, have we changed the perception? Have we changed how people feel?

[00:17:22] I’ll be honest with you. Those kinds of metrics are very hard to move. It’s a little bit like trying to move NPS. You know what I mean? It’s not, you’re not going to build one feature and that number is going to move. I also don’t think that, you know, we can build the best ultimate product in the world.

[00:17:37] Wedding planning will not ever stop being a bit overwhelming because it’s that important to people. But, but, but they can be useful signals, right? Like, are we, are we moving things in the right direction? Have we made like a piece of the wedding planning a little bit easier to understand a little bit easier to accomplish a little bit less stressful you mentioned earlier on is that people haven’t got anything to compare it against as well.

[00:17:58] So you don’t know what, uh, an [00:18:00] easy wedding planning processes versus a difficult one. Do you short of talking to your friends about it? It’s quite hard to know because it’s something you, like you said before, you will only go through once. So it’s. Yeah, that’s a challenge, I guess, to, yeah. To set people’s that understand expectations and understand if you’ve met or not met those expectations because people don’t, you know, that’s quite a hard thing for them to really be able to quantify.

[00:18:22] Yeah. There’s also, there’s also a factor of delay that shows up in weddings. Right. You know, people know how their wedding planning went by how the wedding day goes. Yeah, right. And so, you know, on average it takes people about, you know, 12 to 14 months to plan a wedding. And that’s a very long project.

[00:18:44] Right. And so until their wedding day passes and, and they inevitably had a good time in spite of whatever details they’d go wrong, but that’s really how they look back then and say like, yeah, this is, this was the wedding that I had hoped to [00:19:00] have. Therefore, the planning they’d go well, But, you know, month three, is it going well?

[00:19:05] I don’t know. I’m getting some things I want, I’m not sure about others, the questions you’re going to ask at each point. So again, you talked about NPS they’re really well it’s like you say, if you were to ask them, is the NPS on their wedding day at the end of the day, they’d be like, it was amazing. But like you say, a week beforehand, those, those emotional and NPS measures are going to be completely.

[00:19:30] Wildly different aren’t they? Yeah, absolutely. Interesting, really interesting stuff. So you took that, you’ve mentioned this before sort of optimizing for decision making. Could you talk us through a little bit around that? I know that’s something that I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about. So I think it, for me, it has a lot to do with this, like, well, so how deep do we need to go and help in dancing?

[00:19:53] Do we need to get right. And, and, you know, the, the principle is something like, you know, go as deep as you need to again, so [00:20:00] seemingly simple on the surface, right? But so, so optimizing decision making to me is spending just enough time debating the decision to optimize the quality of that decision, but not more because beyond that point, you’re actually just creating sort of artificial certainty.

[00:20:17] Right? So it’s a little bit like this example that I was giving, like if you’ve got three options to choose from. And, and the impact that they will drive is different orders of magnitude. And let’s say for simplicity, levels of effort are simple. Similar then like your decision is already made. Like there’s not much more to investigate there again like that 2 million estimate.

[00:20:35] Does it help to figure out if it’s 1 million, 830, 4,000 or 2 million, 212,000? Like, no, it doesn’t, it’s not going to change your decision. Right. You’re going to go and build that thing, right. Or you’re going to go figure out what you need to build to. Actualize that opportunity on the flip side, if, if you’re sensing fuzziness, if you’re sensing confusion, or if straight up in the numbers, you’re seeing [00:21:00] numbers that are very close together, then you have to ask yourselves, like, how can we learn more about this to make a better quality decision?

[00:21:07] And sometimes the answer is the way we learn more about this as we take another spin through the numbers, right? Like. The analysis we did was very back of the envelope. We need to take another pass at that and like sharpen the pencil. I’m like get to the second decimal point. Right? Sometimes the answer is.

[00:21:24] In order to learn more that there’s not, that information is not inside this company. Like we need to go talk to some customers. We need to go maybe to talk to other companies who solved a similar problem. We need to maybe run a design sprint, and again, put something in front of users and see if there’s a there, there, right?

[00:21:40] So sometimes what you end up choosing is the decision you make is really to prioritize a smidge of investigation and research. Would you have to recognize is still an investment that’s people’s time and energy. Right? So while they’re doing that, they’re not building something else. Right? So you want to be deliberate about prioritizing that, but that might be the smartest decision to make.

[00:21:58] So you can get a little bit more [00:22:00] information, get a little bit less fuzzy on, on that impact opportunity. And then again, make a, make a clear. So I liked the way that you talked about. The sensing, fuzziness confusion and tackling that head on. So not because I guess the temptation is always in those situations, like, Oh, we’ll figure that out later.

[00:22:17] Or we won’t deal with that now we will just, yeah, we’ll worry about that fuzziness later on. And I liked the way that you sort of talk about that, tackling that head on, because I think a lot of people are worried about doing that. They don’t want. Yeah, that uncertainty is just almost too much for them to deal with at certain points in that decision making process.

[00:22:34] It is that too though, also like can be a slippery slope again, like everything in moderation. Right? So, so there are sometimes situations where, where a team will start overthinking something that that’s really a decision down the line. Right. That, that I see also as, as a suboptimal decision-making right.

[00:22:50] Because then the team gets to a point where it’s sort of like this decision is as good as you can get it, but now you’re not acting on it. You’re taking another couple of weeks. To to debate [00:23:00] something that actually, you kind of figured out down the line that the, I mean, look, that’s where like experience and wisdom comes.

[00:23:06] Like, I don’t know that that that’s something that you can just sort of be smart enough to figure out. Some of that is like having been around the block, seen like what, where what’s really a bigger or a smaller risks. And, and, and sometimes it’s a matter of helping the team sort of like walk off the ledge and like not stress so much about something that like, actually we have a multiple ways of solving.

[00:23:28] And by the way, that’s the way you do that. It’s not like the brush it under the carpet. So it still, you still engage with this fuzziness, but when your goal in that point is, is to convey to the team that they’re not going to find themselves like painted into a corner. They’re not going to feel stupid three months from now because they didn’t have this debate now.

[00:23:45] They have a number of options to choose from all of these options seem viable. Okay. Okay. Everybody can relax a little bit. We’ll figure it out later. Right. So I guess the common theme is you still want to engage with the fuzziness. It’s just that sometimes your goal is to really go deep on it. And sometimes your goal [00:24:00] is to say, we can actually.

[00:24:02] If I can down the road on this one a bit through that later. Yeah. And I like the way you talk about experience and wisdom, there is a way of knowing if you’ve done an ex exploration at this phase and when to put it off until later as well. And it’s, again, many product managers will look for a tool or a metric to help them do that.

[00:24:17] But the reality is, as you say, you’ve got to just have, you know, based on past experiences. No, Which of those two choices to make at any one time. And I like the way you talk about that. Yeah. And that’s what, you know, talk to other people talk to not just your manager, but I mean, like talk to other people in the industry, you know, we’ve all had a variety of experiences.

[00:24:34] Odds are, somebody has been in a similar situation. Yeah, no, I like the way that you think about that. Okay. So let’s, let’s talk about, we’ve talked about. This great decision, make decisions, always going well, putting all this right amount of effort in, could you talk about a situation where perhaps the decision hasn’t gone, as well as you’d have liked your experiences?

[00:24:54] So we focus a lot on making the best decision we can with the [00:25:00] information that we have. Again, sometimes the decision is to go get more information, but, but you also want to be careful with that. You know, when again, it gets stuck in some sort of analysis paralysis. So, so it happens all the time that. We acquire new information and inevitably with 2020 hindsight, previous decisions seem wrong.

[00:25:19] Yeah, we’ve we’ve, I mean, w I, I think along the way, like, I’ve definitely made some of these mistakes that I’ve described, like a confusing of practical problem for an emotional problem, you know, and, and leaning into solving something that my customer actually doesn’t expect my product to solve.

[00:25:38] Similarly, I, I. To the degree that I’ve seen a pattern I’ve generally regretted to regretted, like sort of going too deep in a solution. Let me try to sort of say what I mean by that. I’m thinking in a couple of different situations, I had identified that [00:26:00] the customers could be divided in a few different segments.

[00:26:04] And, and we could provide a super tailored experience to all of those segments. And so we went ahead and made that investment and then it turned out that like the bits that were tailored, like really didn’t matter at all. Everybody pretty much actually behaved as if we could’ve given them just that one primary user flow.

[00:26:23] Talk about the threat. I mean, Th th there’s sort of the, like the shame of having to explain to my boss the time I spent building something that wasn’t important, but like more than that, like the, the, you know, just waste that engineer time designer, time invested like emotionally and, and intellectually in solving a problem that wasn’t real, the complexity we introduced in the product, the, the complexity that I added to the maintenance of that product.

[00:26:52] The complexity and the user experience, right? Like the user experience itself would have been simpler if we didn’t try to over tailor. So [00:27:00] a lot of my regrets have to do with over assuming too much early on, and, and not, not recognizing that if, if, if we ship a V1 of something, the best thing that could happen is loud.

[00:27:13] Consumer outreach going like this needs to be better.

[00:27:19] I love that. I love the way you talk there about that over assuming too much early on, and then putting it to the market and seeing, like you say, if people, what people demand from doing it rather than. Over-engineering spending too much time doing something, tailoring something for it to just be met by perhaps indifference or, you know, not non usage, which is the worst thing to be able to do.

[00:27:41] I like that. That’s where I think for product managers, it’s really important to constantly wheeled both the qual and the quant. Right? So the. The quality is sort of the, why is this happening? And the quad is, is what is this happening? Right. So, so these mistakes that I’ve made in the past, generally STEM from over-reliance on the wall.

[00:27:59] And [00:28:00] assuming that in the Quan, that shakes out as like equally representative cohorts. When in fact, like I may have talked to identified like five different types of sort of users in, in conversations, but one type represents 80%, right. Yeah. Interesting. I like the way you talk about quote unquote there as well.

[00:28:18] We, we spoke, spoken a couple of episodes, a few episodes ago to the, to the research team at YouTube. And they talk a lot about that. The two types of research and how to make decisions based upon those two sets of research and how important it is. I wouldn’t just start to size them. It’s really important to assist in the synthesize.

[00:28:33] Let me just, just half a story. Yeah, no, I really like that. Okay. So let’s talk then about you you’ve you’ve mentioned competition. How, how much time do you spend focusing on your competition? What’s your sort of outlook towards them? So I would say we were pretty aware of our competition. I don’t want to say we think about them a lot.

[00:28:56] It’s not so much a matter of like how much time we spend thinking [00:29:00] about them. I think it’s more a matter of how we think about the competition. So. I think a mistake that some teams make is assume that the competition knows what they’re doing and is solving the same problems that we are right now. Okay.

[00:29:16] You know, it’s probably smart to assume that your competition is really good at what they’re doing. It’ll make you a little bit more paranoid. It’ll put you a little bit more on your toes, right? So, so that’s not a bad assumption to make. But the second one is really dangerous. And that’s that they’re solving the same problems that you are just because you’re in the same industry, right?

[00:29:33] Odds are, you know, look, it’s two different companies. Even if they started at the same time, they don’t necessarily have the same problems at the same time. And, and they surely are coming up with different strategies simply because you have two different sets of people in some room coming up with strategy.

[00:29:49] And so the decisions should naturally vary. Right. So, so what we don’t want to do is like obsess over our competition, which everything they launch and then try to [00:30:00] replicate it. Right. Because we don’t know why they launched that. We don’t know if it’s going to work for them. Well, what if it doesn’t work, then it’s a waste of time to try to copy that.

[00:30:07] Right. But of course you do want to copy it if it was a great idea, you know? So, so the way we think about competition is I think of it as like another experimentation platform. But the team is not very friendly and refuses to share data. You know? So if you, if you watch your competition, right, allegedly, right.

[00:30:26] It’s, it’s, it’s not so much about sort of like how deep you go. Maybe when, when you look at what they’re doing, but if you watch them regularly, then you can observe things like, Hey, they, they launched this a couple of quarters ago and now it’s gone and they’ve been investing hard in this for three quarters, and then it hasn’t changed for two.

[00:30:46] And I’m seeing simmering of new investments over in this part of the product. It seemed to have started last quarter. Right? So. Again, you don’t necessarily want to look at their, their, their, their tactics or execution and say [00:31:00] like, we should do the same thing. Cause you don’t know what problem they’re solving, but it should make you wonder, right?

[00:31:04] Like, is this a, do I understand what they’re doing? If I can understand what they’re doing, then I’m kind of like, okay, I think, I think I know what’s going on. Right. But if I can’t explain to myself what they’re doing or why they’re doing it, then that gets me thinking, is there something there that I’m missing?

[00:31:18] Have I overlooked something right. I like that. I mean, I liked the way you talk there about assuming the competition knows what they’re doing, you know, you can’t can you, and you can’t assume they’re solving the same problems that you are. I really liked the way of thinking about it because you can often worry that they’ve got some majestic or major insight that you’re somehow missing all the time.

[00:31:37] But I liked the way you think about that is that, you know, treat them as a separate team that doesn’t share data. You can watch their experiments. I really liked the way you taught there as well about the trends of our staff as well. So watching what they do over time. So watching over courses to see how it evolves.

[00:31:51] And then I guess from that, you can then spot and see really where they are succeeding with features and then with ideas, as well as you know, where ideas and features that [00:32:00] they’re. Yeah, that, that they’re not spending any more time in working on which you can assume and not doing much for them in terms of the business.

[00:32:06] So I know that way of thinking about that. Yeah. And it doesn’t mean you have to align with their decisions, but it should get you thinking. Yeah, I liked the way you think about that. Great. Well, I’ve, I’ve so enjoyed this conversation I’ve had with you. It’s been fantastic. I’ve learned so much. Thank you.

[00:32:24] Can, can, is there some somewhere that where people can go and find more information about you or what you’re up to, or what do you share much? I’m not that sort of sporadically active on Twitter. I’m most active on Twitter when I go to conferences and I haven’t been to one this year, but you can find me on Twitter at D Z I S H N.

[00:32:45] And you can find me on LinkedIn as well. Great. Are you hiring at the moment you, you, in that world? I think we will be shortly. I think COVID has been tough for everybody, but although. [00:33:00] Given how COVID has impacted wedding planning. It’s been really impressive to see just how resilient our customers are and weathering this situation and how creative they’ve been.

[00:33:11] But. Yeah, I think we, I think we will be, we will be in the, in the new year. Great. Thank you so much for your time. Honestly, it’s been fantastic. So thank you so much. It’s really fun. Thank you for having me. You’ve been listening to making better decisions, podcasts for product leaders, to get show notes, transcripts, and more.

[00:33:32] Go to Mr. joe.uk forward slash podcast. Otherwise please leave a rating or a comment in your podcast app. It really helps me. See you next time.

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Helping you do the right things, in the right order, for the right reasons

I'm Joe Leech and I coach leaders and founders to shape the organisation, the process, the team (and themselves along the way) to create world leading, user focused, tech products and services.

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