Joe Leech

S1 – E8 Jeff Gothelf, Author of Lean UX, Sense & Respond

Jeff is the co-author of Lean UX as well as the Harvard Business Review Published Sense and Respond. He coaches organisations to create a better culture that creates better products.

We talk about retraining execs, competition and being enthusiastically skeptical.

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Show notes


[00:00:00] Jeff: [00:00:00] I think almost every organization suffers with this is that we have been training executives for a hundred years to tell people what to do and in a manufacturing mindset in that industrial era mindset, that made sense. And so we’ve transferred that to the digital world to digital. Products and digital services and organizations and executives believes that their job is to tell people what to build.

[00:00:34] If we go to a test and learn approach a hypothesis based approach, a more customer centric outside in approach. Well then in no short, in no uncertain terms, You’re removing that directional decision-making from the leaders. And they get very, very worried about that because they believe that that’s their job

[00:01:03] [00:01:00] Joe: [00:01:03] to making better decisions to podcasts with digital product people. I’m your host, Mr. Joe Leach, and I’m a product coach, speaker writer, and author. Each episode, I talked to a product leader from a startup scale-up or large entity. Prize about one thing, how they make decisions today I’m joined by Jeff Gothelf.

[00:01:21] Jeff is the co-author of lean UX, as well as the Harvard business review published. Since miss respond, he coaches organizations to create a better culture creates better products. 

[00:01:32] Jeff: [00:01:32] Hi, how are you doing? I’m doing great, Joe. Thanks for having me on the show. 

[00:01:36] Joe: [00:01:36] I’m sure our listeners are familiar with you, but can you anyway, can you give me a bit of a bit of a bio who you are, where you’ve come from, that kind of stuff.

[00:01:43] That’d be great. 

[00:01:44] Jeff: [00:01:44] Sure. So I’m the co-author of a couple of books, lean UX, and sense, and respond both with Josh Seiden. I am the co-founder of sense and respond press with Josh. Seiden. I do a lot of work with Josh side. [00:02:00] And most recently I published a book without Josh site called forever employable, which takes everything I’ve learned about building a consulting business and a content based practice and product design and development.

[00:02:14] And shares it in a book that helps you kind of build a situation where opportunities and jobs and speaking gigs and things like that find you rather than you having to go look for them. And I work as a coach and a consultant as a speaker and as a trainer for large and medium-sized companies generally helping them build great products and having the built the cultures that builds great products.

[00:02:36] Joe: [00:02:36] Okay, great stuff. And so talking about, so we’ll talk about, I think today, if that’s all right around some of those coaching and consulting jobs that you’ve had, can you think about a recent product decision that a team you’ve been advising has made? So where they’ve had to decide what to do next, can you think about any recent examples or examples from your career you’d like to 

[00:02:53] Jeff: [00:02:53] talk about?

[00:02:54] Absolutely. There’s a team that I’m engaged with and I’ve been engaged them for a while now. And it’s a really interesting [00:03:00] position where they are an existing business that has. Many many millions of users. And what they’re trying to do is use that platform to now build that will, that, that base, not so much a platform, but use that base of users to build a series of businesses on top of.

[00:03:19] So they’ve got the core business that captured and continue to retain those customers. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of customers. And what they’re trying to do is build vertical businesses on top of those different customers. And one of those. Directions that they’ve gotten recently has been video-conferencing, which makes a lot of sense.

[00:03:36] That’s the world we live in today. There’s a lot of demand for that. There’s a lot of competition. And even though there’s a lot of default tools, right. Everybody, I mean, zoom is essentially a verb at this point. So, you know, you’ve made it. When your product becomes a verb, there is, there is room for, for new products and new ideas.

[00:03:55] The interesting decision that this team made was instead [00:04:00] of coming out of the gate with a new experience or with something innovative or something unique, they said, look, we are going to recreate zoom. Essentially, we’re going to take a look at what they’re doing and we’re going to recreate that. And the, the, the rationale initially was that people are comfortable with it.

[00:04:23] People know how to use it. They understand what it does and how it does it. So we’ll just put a tool out there that does exactly the same thing. So at the very least the onboarding will be simple. The idea then was to innovate from there. The challenge of course, is that when you launch a competitor to zoom, that looks exactly the same, but doesn’t operate.

[00:04:50] Nearly as good as them because they’ve had a decade to get it. Right. Right. Then the F the blow back from your audience, from the [00:05:00] world, from the, the court of Twitter becomes fairly brutal. And even internally, you start to question your decision about whether or not this was the right product approach.

[00:05:11] And this is something that this team’s been wrestling with for a while, as they try to really figure out, okay, we did it. We took a bit of a hit for it. I’m a, on the, kind of the court of public opinion. It’s not as good as zoom yet, but we have an opportunity to really define how we differentiate ourselves in the marketplace.

[00:05:31] Where do we go from here? Right. And so that’s the situation. The team finds itself right now is having made that decision. And now trying to figure out where to go. 

[00:05:39] Joe: [00:05:39] I like that almost like using zoom is that is the baseline. So zoom is the, kind of what everybody’s used to now, we’ll start with zoom and then we build upon that.

[00:05:47] What can we do different to differentiate ourselves later from zoom? That’s interesting. And I think it’s interesting, you talk there about that kind of, that court of public opinion that you, you put something out there and it’s, it’s similar to a product or very same. But [00:06:00] it was the same as a product that already exists.

[00:06:01] And people are kind of often quite disparaging about that online, you know, that’s interesting. And so the team next, how are they kind of coming to decide what to do next? So they got what’s the what’s the next thing they’ve 

[00:06:13] Jeff: [00:06:13] identified at this point is they’ve identified. For unique strategic tracks that they could go down that would provide them a unique value proposition on top of this baseline video conferencing experience that they’ve created.

[00:06:30] And just judge speaks speaking in generalities because just to scrub it a little bit, but, but, but, but roughly speaking, right, they’re like, of course you see plays as B2B plays. There’s public sector plays. There’s all kinds of things that they could actually be doing. And what they’re trying to figure out now is okay, because remember there’s a core business underneath all of this that’s funding.

[00:06:48] This, this is not a startup. This is not an organization that if they don’t get this right, that’s the end and everybody gets fired and they go home right there. There’s a core business. That’s funding this. So they’ve got some [00:07:00] runway and they’ve got a real opportunity to really decide where they want to go from here.

[00:07:06] The interesting thing. Now for them is to determine, well, what kind of revenue model do we want to build on top of this? Is this going to be a, an actual paid product or is this going to be a, a free play for customer acquisition? And then we’ll sell, add on services on top of that, is this a simply because you know, in many ways, is this simply a, a free product period?

[00:07:33] Then we’re going to put out there as a retention mechanism for the customers that we already have. So if you subscribe to the core product, you get this video conferencing tool for free it’s of equal quality to some of the other tools you might be using and you never have to pay for it. There’s a level of security that maybe other tools don’t have, et cetera.

[00:07:49] So they’re really trying to figure that out. So they put together. And this is where things get a little, a little frustrating for me as, as, as a person who’s coming from the will let’s [00:08:00] let’s test the Atlas test and learn like we have, we have four ideas. We can’t decide that means we don’t have enough information to make a decision.

[00:08:06] So let’s go get more information currently what the team is doing is they’re making PowerPoint decks. One for each of these ideas and that they’re pitching them to the executive team. And they’re saying there’s, here are four directions that we could go. And where do you want to go? And none of those directions actually have any data behind them beyond sort of market opportunity.

[00:08:27] And I think that that’s a mistake. I think that they could have made a far more compelling pitch to their executives. They said, here are the four verticals that we’re considering here are the market opportunities for each one of those. And here are the results of some preliminary experiments that give us a sense that this might be more viable than that this has more legs than this other thing.

[00:08:46] And our recommendation is option B. Right? None of that conversation is actually taking place at the moment. They’re just creating sort of pitch decks for these directions. 

[00:08:55] Joe: [00:08:55] That’s interesting because I, I think, you know, the idea then that you, [00:09:00] rather than having one idea that you, you almost bet the business on, as you take four out to market and you have some preliminary market testing help you decide what to do next.

[00:09:08] So for small experiments, rather than like you say, Putting that position or that decision onto somebody else or a team of other people who will go, yeah, we’ll choose option B. That looks like the best one without really being able to make an adequate choice on that decision without any real data to back it up.

[00:09:24] Like you say, other than market size saying, here’s the size of that opportunity. Let’s go for it. So that’s, that’s really interesting. And it’s honestly, it’s a similar frustration that I face in terms of the organizations that I work with that having that. And what do you think it is? What do you think it, and I’m not talking about this organization necessarily as well, but what do you think it is perhaps that stops organizations wanting to do that, to go out there and run market tests of products and 

[00:09:47] Jeff: [00:09:47] ideas?

[00:09:49] I think it’s worth clarifying. I think, I think they misunderstand the scope of a test. So they’ll like when you have tens of millions of customers, the perception that the [00:10:00] scope of the test, the perception is the scope of a test is going to involve. Potentially hundreds of thousands of customers, if not millions of customers, right?

[00:10:09] That’s unnecessary. That’s number one. There’s a lot of ways to test these ideas in very lightweight, small ways, with a small number of folks to really start to get a sense of direction. And you see good, good product organizations, successful organizations doing this. I think that’s the first thing. I think the second thing here is this idea of saving, saving the brand.

[00:10:30] Right. So if we put something out there and there’ll be kill it, or it’s not great, or it’s a failure, how are we going to look to the public? Right? Are we going to be embarrassed? Are they going to, is the press going to, to mock us that type of thing. And I think that maybe 10 years ago, 15 years ago, that may have been the case.

[00:10:49] I think today, especially when it comes to tech products, the tech press is very, very, very aware that all the big players. In the, in the world are [00:11:00] testing things. Non-stop right. So you might see something it’s gone the next day. So I don’t think there’s any risk in that. I think the last thing that keeps organizations from doing this kind of testing and learning process, and in this case, it’s, it’s endemic to this organization, but it’s not unique to them.

[00:11:17] Every organ. I think almost every organization suffers with this is that we have been training executives for a hundred years. To tell people what to do and in a manufacturing mindset, in that industrial era mindset, that made sense. And so we’ve transferred that to the digital world, to digital products and digital services and organizing, and executives believes that their job is to tell people what to build at this point.

[00:11:47] And yeah, if we go to a test and learn approach a hypothesis based approach, a more customer centric outside in approach, well then an in no. Short in order [00:12:00] to terms, you’re removing that directional decision-making from the leaders. And they get very, very worried about that because they believe that that’s their job.

[00:12:10] I tell people what to do, right. And the reality is that successful digital product organizations, the leaders in those organizations set strategic direction, they set goals. They help keep the teams. Within the constraints of that strategic direction and those goals, they have to keep the teams on, on the rails, but they don’t tell them, make it blue, make it red, have it, have three steps, move it from here and move it to their call at this call it that I like the landing page.

[00:12:38] I don’t like the landing page. All that stuff is completely irrelevant. It’s what customers think that also may make sense, but it’s really, really difficult for executives to let go because it, it means it means redefining. Their job, which is really difficult. It means trusting the teams that they’ve hired in new ways that are very uncomfortable [00:13:00] for a lot of folks.

[00:13:01] And all of this stuff really gets in the way of these tests and learn organization of test and learn culture. 

[00:13:06] Joe: [00:13:06] It’s interesting. I like the way that you talk there about how exactly you’ve been trained for a hundred years to almost be the experts, to be the decision maker, to be the arbiters of this, to say, I think we should do this, that almost there, they’ve got this gut feel or secret sources, the ability to know what to do.

[00:13:21] And they feel like they should. I’m guessing as well from an executive point of view, that must be quite a scary place to be feeling like you’ve got to make choices of things that work or don’t work. Can you talk anything to that around how, how, how people could. How, how exactly can feel the differences between the feeling of those two sorts of situations.

[00:13:39] Jeff: [00:13:39] Terrifying. Right. So, so imagine, imagine you’ve worked for 25 years. Okay. And that whole time you’ve had your eye on that corner off, right? That’s I’m going to get that job title. I’m going to get that corner office. You’ve been following the plan. You’ve been doing what you’ve been told, what you’ve been taught, what you’ve seen other managers do.

[00:13:58] Right. And then 20, 25 [00:14:00] years in you’re a step away or you just got there and the organization and the market really it’s really the market. Right. But that drives this, but the organization. Moves the goalposts, right? Like that’s, that’s what that’s, what’s happening here. Right? We’ve, we’ve trained these leaders, these decision makers to make decisions in a particular way.

[00:14:23] And that way has been successful for them because it’s allowed them to grow and grow and grow and succeed in Saudi organization. And now, now they’re finally there, or they’re a step away and everything, they know how to do. Isn’t the way we do things anymore. That’s terrifying. And I can tell you just from anecdote, totally from a little bit of customer development research that I’ve done yeah.

[00:14:44] Around executive training and executive leadership, these teams rarely invest in any kind of meaningful training or retraining or educational PR practices for themselves. [00:15:00] Rarely, rarely read books. And maybe they get a coach maybe, but that’s the, even the coaching is rare. And generally speaking, they are very like the, the higher up in an organization, you go, the less professional development actually takes place.

[00:15:15] And so this, they don’t know how to cope with this. They don’t know how to deal with this change. They don’t, they don’t know what to do because no one’s ever taught them. And, and the organization isn’t really taking care of that. 

[00:15:25] Joe: [00:15:25] That’s really interesting. I, I like that feeling got that point. You said that is terrifying there to make those decisions.

[00:15:29] And suddenly then everything moves. You’re used to working in a way for a long time. Then suddenly you get this agile team beneath you. That’s saying. Give us problems to solve. Give us visions to set rather than saying, what, what should we build boss? They’re asking you to set them problems to solve themselves, which is a different place to be.

[00:15:47] Isn’t it really, that must be quite a very difficult way to shift your mindset. And I’m, I’m guessing as what that must be quite a challenge in terms of how. You mentioned there in terms of training and personal development to make that shift, but then also [00:16:00] dealing with, if you’re an executive, you’ve got to deal with your, your boss and their, their thoughts towards this as well, and equally their issues and thoughts around how, how organizations should be run and how teams should be led.

[00:16:11] Jeff: [00:16:11] Think. Great. So there’s one other aspect that’s really interesting, right? So assume you’re not the boss, right? That you you’re a boss, but you also have at least one other boss above you, right? In kind of the old way of working your boss would come to you and say, Hey Joe, what are the teams? What are the teams working on?

[00:16:29] And be like, Oh, they’re working on the iPhone app. And they’re working on the onboarding flow for the iPhone app. And, and it’ll be done on Thursday. Okay. It’s a very concrete thing. It’s a very deliberate, specific thing that you can say that the team is working in a modern way of thinking about this in a modern way of working the way that we were.

[00:16:47] We’re trying to build leaders that work this way. I’m trying to do that. Your boss would say, Hey, Joe, what team’s working on? And if you didn’t tell them what to do, there is this, there’s a risk that when the boss comes and says, [00:17:00] Hey, Joe, what are the teams working on? You don’t have an answer for that.

[00:17:03] Like the answer is, I don’t know. Right. That’s not a good answer. And so there is a whole new dynamic here that needs to evolve, not just top down. But from the kind of bottom up as well from the team up and out to say, look, if you’re going to trust us to solve a problem and achieve outcomes and talk to customers and do the right thing, what we will do for you is radically increase our transparency.

[00:17:31] So you are fully aware at all times of what we’re doing and why we’re doing those things so that when those questions come, which they always do. But Hey Joe, what did the team do? What’s the team doing? You haven’t answered right away. Well, the team’s working on this onboarding experiment, but they believe if they reduce the onboarding flow by two steps, they’ll be able to increase the conversion rate to completion rate by 50%.

[00:17:54] Right. That preliminary tests that they’ve run so far been really promising. So they’re spending, they’re testing out to like [00:18:00] 10% of our target audience to see how that flows. Right. That becomes a really interesting conversation, but it’s a radically different conversation. Then there’ll be the only the iPhone app.

[00:18:07] And there’ll be done on Thursday. 

[00:18:09] Joe: [00:18:09] I really liked that idea. That’s that’s that thought that, that, that transparency has got to go two ways. So you do, you know, in the private world, you hear a lot about making teams, giving teams trust and empowering them and things like that. But part of the deal that the teams make from doing that is they’ve got to be communicating to their boss about exactly what they’re working on at any one time.

[00:18:27] So they can’t just say, yeah, thanks. Thanks boss for the, for the problem, we’ll be back in six months with a solution to that, they’ve got to be communicating back up that chain to speak to their boss, to say, Hey, this is exactly what we’re doing this week. Here’s what we’re planning to do this week. So that almost looking to their boss with the ability to talk to somebody more senior organization about what that team’s working on, what they’re doing.

[00:18:50] I really like that idea. That’s a really nice way to think about it as well, but that puts that responsibility across both sets of all parties, that organization to communicate in different ways across that as well. [00:19:00] So again, what would your advice be to teams that are about to make that step? In fact, so executives about to make that step what’s the first thing perhaps they could do to, to get to a point where they’re working less on building the iPhone out by Thursday and solving a problem.

[00:19:14] And I think the first thing that you 

[00:19:16] Jeff: [00:19:16] can really do is work together. If you can’t, hopefully ideally you can get your stakeholders in a room with you and the team and reframe the work that you’re doing as a problem to solve. That’s a fantastic place to start because inevitably the work that you’re doing is likely, currently being framed as a solution to implant, right.

[00:19:36] Build the iPhone app by Thursday. Right. Okay. Let’s turn that on its head. Why are we building the iPhone app? What’s the problem that we’re trying to solve? Well, What I’ve noticed as the, as the commerce lead for, for, for the business is that our e-commerce sales have been declining month over month. And the biggest loss that we’ve seen in the data so far has [00:20:00] been through the iOS channel.

[00:20:01] Surprisingly, like we’re actually seeing a declining number of sales through the iOS channel. And so what we really want to see is not only a flattening of that decline, we actually want to see a 5% increase in mobile commerce. With iOS users. Wow. Right. That’s a fundamentally different conversation than build me an iPhone app by Thursday.

[00:20:22] Right. Or update the iPhone it’s because all of a sudden, right. The team now what you’ve done as a leader, right there is you’ve set strategic direction. You’ve justified it with data. You set a clear measure of success that is not predicated upon any particular feature set. And you’ve given the team the trust level to go and discover the best combination of code copy design value proposition, feature set, whatever it is that will get them to start buying stuff more through the iOS channel.

[00:20:58] Right. And so all of a [00:21:00] sudden that’s a, that’s a, that’s a radically different conversation. It’s a fantastic place. If you can get there. 

[00:21:05] Joe: [00:21:05] I love the idea then. So you, you, you get the team together and you just re reframe what you’re doing into something that, like you say, that meets. And I like what you talked about that in terms of measurement as well.

[00:21:13] So it’s based around the measurement of, of what the team’s working on. So we’ve noticed this trend, we think. That’s something we should need to address. Let’s frame it around that. Why are we building an iPhone app? Well, we want to reduce, we want to reduce this dropout. We want increase sales is you’re putting KPIs around that again, which I’m guessing as well.

[00:21:30] It’s probably, then that makes it an easier conversation for that executive have with their boss. If they’re saying this is what the team are working on, then they. That makes that conversation easier for the exact to then have that conversation further up to say, here’s what the team are doing. Here’s what their targets are.

[00:21:44] And here’s where they’re going to go with that. I like that. Great. So we talked a bit about this, this kind of, this sort of test and learn that. And so, you know, put something out in the market, see what happens. There’s that obviously must mean then that things aren’t going to work. Is there anything you any.

[00:21:59] Experience you’ve had with [00:22:00] the teams that you’ve worked with around when things haven’t gone. So well, our system has gone out to 

[00:22:03] Jeff: [00:22:03] market and it hasn’t worked interesting experiments. And one of the interesting projects I’ve done in recent years was with a, an online learning company and not on my learning.

[00:22:14] I’m sorry. There was just an education company. Everyone’s online learning that you’ve got to have to it’s almost by default, like the word comes out, but they’re there we’re an education company in the United States that helped prepare. Students for standardized tests. So whether it’s college entrance exams and any kind of standardized tests, and the fascinating thing about them is that they were the biggest player in the space.

[00:22:39] They were the high-end of the market. They were expensive. And really for decades, no one could challenge them. And that Khan Academy happened and Khan Academy essentially offered the same content. In a different format, but nevertheless, the same content that they provided, um, for [00:23:00] free, which is a yeah, right.

[00:23:03] That all of a sudden you are now dealing with like an existential threat because Khan Academy content is high quality and they’re funded by bill Gates. So they’re never going to run out of money ever. Right. And, and they’re not trying to make any money, right? This is, this is a fundamental existential threat.

[00:23:25] And so all of a sudden your core product isn’t working anymore, I joined as a consultant to help lead to innovation teams. Together at this company to help them re-imagine deliver it, how to deliver their service in a new way that has now been radically altered by, by this, this kind of disrupt Mark massive market disruption.

[00:23:50] And the interesting thing here too, was that the direction that we were headed in was subscription. Now, remember you’re prepping for [00:24:00] a standardized test. It’s a, it’s a unique event that happens on a day, worst case you don’t pass and you got to take it again. Right. But at some point, this ends and you’re done.

[00:24:10] Right. So what am I subscribing for? Like, what am I subscribing to? Like, why do I need it? Like if I could just take a, take a course and then take the test and I’m done. And so they’re completely redefining their value proposition, how they go to market, what they sell, what they charge for it. What’s a, what’s a good price point.

[00:24:27] And what’s fascinating about this is that I spent seven months with them really helping them navigate this Testament and culture. Many of the things they put out there initially failed. People didn’t understand. They’re like, no, no, no. I just buy a class from you. I take the class and I’m done. Like I don’t need and calls.

[00:24:45] And like, why would I pay you for four, 12 of months or 24 months when I can just pay you a one-time fee prep for the course for three months and then be done with it. So lots of that, lots of experiments failed. And the good news is that [00:25:00] kind of coming back to the conversation we’re having earlier. The scope of those experiments were trivial.

[00:25:06] They were landing page tests. They, everything we did was literally put together with like digital duct tape. You know, it was, it was wizard of Oz tests behind the scenes to try and reconfigure because the organization has the assets. Right. So the thing the organization had going forward is it has the assets.

[00:25:25] It th th the education license, it has the personnel who know how to teach this stuff. And it has the brand, what they had, what they had to do was reconfigure all of that in a new way that actually delivered value in a compelling way that could compete with a Khan Academy, free product like that. And so everything we did was like reconfigure it this way.

[00:25:48] It like regular, like try this order of things. That didn’t convert the way we’d expect it. Okay. Let’s try it. Let’s talk to people to understand why and let’s try it again. And what was that? That’s the thing is when we got this, [00:26:00] when we got the, the experiment, right. And by right. I mean, found the right combination that worked together.

[00:26:05] I just wanna be very clear about what it was made of made of existing assets. So a bit like course material that already existed Skype calls with trainers so that the cultures, the people who already existed, and now they’re doing Skype calls, emails. To supplement the gaps between the courses and the calls.

[00:26:24] And the entire thing was the back, the back end of this thing. And I photos of this, it was run up by, on a Trello board where every card on the Trello board was a student in the cohort. And every column was a step in the process. And the goal was to get students from the beginning to the end of the process, get them to renew for next month and then bring them around to the beginning and go through it again.

[00:26:49] And it worked because the organization was willing to trust this, frankly. Because they had to, 

[00:26:56] Joe: [00:26:56] I really like that idea, that idea, then that you take the existing parts of the product you’ve already [00:27:00] got and you try reconfiguring them. And that’s the basis of the experiments that there isn’t a, a huge cost in running them.

[00:27:06] It’s not like you’ve got to develop six brand new, new things that are wholly created from scratch is that you can reconfigure what you’ve got. Try it with a, like a landing page, or I love that term, the wizard of Oz behind the curtain. Try it. And you know, you don’t have to have a large backend infrastructure to support it.

[00:27:23] You can use something as simple as Trello to run that experiment, to see if the success is there. So it doesn’t have to be a huge investment. It just has to be an experiment. Oh yeah, that works right now. Let’s invest or no, that didn’t work. Let’s, you know, let’s move on to the next series of experiments that are there.

[00:27:38] I love the idea. One of the, one of the questions that seems to be out there that I often get asked that maybe you do as well is how many experiments should you be? What should you be your ratio of experiments 

[00:27:48] Jeff: [00:27:48] to success? There’s there’s no matter what your experiences are, you gotta find sites that it doesn’t exist, right?

[00:27:55] To me, you’re always experimenting. It’s just that [00:28:00] you increase the scope and the fidelity and the investment in your experiments. Based on positive data from the previous experiment. So at some point, right, so if you start with a landing page test and you get some good data, I use Becca that works. I’m going to do a prototype.

[00:28:16] Okay, great. You build a prototype, you launch it. Maybe it’s an envision prototype, something like that. Right. You launch that. It gets pretty good feedback, like, okay. That justifies spending a bit more, I’m going to build a, I’m going to build a live data prototype. Okay, great. And invest in that. Right.

[00:28:31] Eventually, eventually you collect enough evidence and you get to a point where the only way to learn the next most important thing is to actually build software. So you build software, but you don’t build the whole thing. You build kind of the minimum viable experience and you ship it to a slice of your population and you get data and then you scale it, right.

[00:28:53] As you continue to invest in this, everything that you put out there is an experiment. It’s just that the, [00:29:00] the, the chances of it being successful, increased because you have more data and you’ve got more evidence for that. And at some point that becomes your system. Let me think about this, right, Amazon.

[00:29:10] Amazon’s a really good example. And they’re really the extreme end of this, right? Amazon today pushes code to production every second, every second. Right. They’re running a test. They’re running an experiment literally every second, five years ago, it was every 11.6 seconds. Today’s every second to 92nd mile.

[00:29:30] Right. And why did they do that? Right? They do that because that’s a continuous conversation with their market and their market is billions of people. And they want to get continuous feedback from that market on an ongoing basis. And so they’re launching these tiny tests and they’re measuring them. And if it fails, well, let’s start that start a failure.

[00:29:48] As long as they learn something from it, they can roll it back and they can try it again. And so there’s a tremendous opportunity here for you to kind of leave behind this concept, that if only we [00:30:00] tested this seven times, we’ll get it right. And really shift into this mindset of continuous learning.

[00:30:07] There’s two phrase though. Continuous learning is one. The other phrase I really love, and I learned this one Ted talk, which is the most cliche thing you can say on anywhere. Right. But I learned in that Ted talk, and that is a Ted talk by Astro teller who runs X Google’s, moonshot factory. And the, the phrase that he uses that I love is enthusiastic skepticism.

[00:30:27] Right? Physiatic skepticism is that mindset of continuous learning. It just means that no matter how successful I get, no matter how good it gets. I’m always curious enough to go. I’m enthusiastically skeptical that it’s the best way to do it, right. There’s always a better way. I can always make it better.

[00:30:43] I can always improve. Right. And that’s where that continuous learning mindset kicks in. And I think that culturally, if you can seed that into your culture and incentivize it and reward it, you are much more likely to build more successful products and services. 

[00:30:58] Joe: [00:30:58] No, I love, I love the idea [00:31:00] that enthusiastic skepticism, lovely way of putting it, that idea that there isn’t the right number of choices to make, or the right number of experiments that are, you just got to always be doing this.

[00:31:08] You can’t stop. It’s like, and I’m guessing alongside that, that the more you learn, the more confidence you get because you have success. So the success means you all. We’re confident this is working. Let’s do another one. Oh, that we’re calm. That work. That we’re confident. It builds confidence as you move through.

[00:31:22] And I guess that’s really important for teams that are working towards this. So again, If we put ourselves back in the, in the shoes of that exact, who’s a little worried that they’re moving from, you know, the iPhone by Thursday to this world of continuous experiments, what kind of. Is there any advice you could give that person around this?

[00:31:41] What, what, what would you say to help them understand how to get started 

[00:31:44] Jeff: [00:31:44] conversation recently with a colleague of mine Januaries ago? Her name is Sona. How’d you barbecue and sell. Anna is the VP of product at the not worldwide. The not is the wedding and adjacent services [00:32:00] type of website it’s and it’s a, it’s a big international.

[00:32:04] Business at this point, selling, when I was chatting with her, I asked her how she runs her process. And she said she optimizes her process for decision-making rather than process. And it’s interesting, right? Because if you’re just coming into this world of lean startup and agile and design thinking and product thinking and lean UX and all these things, right.

[00:32:26] You’re going to, you’re going to look for the recipes. And you’re going to say, well, okay, step one. Is this step two, is this step three? Is that there’s lots of recipes out there. And then at some point your, your, the recipe is going to break and you’re going to in a, in a, in a dilemma, right? You’re going to say, well, I could do the thing that I know makes sense.

[00:32:43] Or I could follow the process, but if I do the thing that makes sense, people are going to come up with a set of, well, that’s not agile, that’s not lean startup. That’s not design thinking. Right. So Anna says, look, I have to mind, she says she optimizer process for distance decision-making. So if the [00:33:00] right thing to do in order to empower a more objective and more evidence-based decision-making, doesn’t fit into the recipe, then we break the recipe.

[00:33:10] And no one points fingers and says, well, that’s not agile or that’s not design thinking. And I think that that’s something that’s really important for folks, especially as they’re kind of coming into this world is that it’s, it’s really easy to get caught up in that, but that there’s certifications and there’s books and there’s canvases and look, and I I’ve.

[00:33:28] I’m guilty of providing all of those things. Right. But nevertheless, you’ve got to be pragmatic and you’ve got to have common sense and you’re going to get to a point where the real world doesn’t match the ideal recipe of the thing that’s in the book. And it’s okay to break that. If you’re optimizing for decision-making right.

[00:33:46] So the goal is in order for me to make a better decision, I have to do something that somebody might say is not agile that’s okay. Right. Let’s go get that data. Let’s go get that information because our goal is not necessarily to practice perfect agile or [00:34:00] lean startup or whatever our goal is to make better decisions.

[00:34:04] Joe: [00:34:04] I love that. I love that idea of optimizing Chris decision making. Let you say that. To the teams can dogmatically follow an agile process. And that might mean that actually that holds them back. I love that idea, that concept of, you know, that, that great chefs, they might start out following recipes, but at some point they’ve got, they go out on their own and they, then they learn how to adapt that process to go against the recipe, to go against the.

[00:34:25] The dogma to do it themselves to, you know, to, to get there quicker. I really love that idea. That’s fantastic. Thank you very much. Thank you very much for your time, Jeff. We’re we’re almost out of time here. Is there, is there anywhere that 

[00:34:36] Jeff: [00:34:36] Sam’s to go? So we’ll go as Jeff 

[00:34:39] Joe: [00:34:39] got here, is there similar, is 

[00:34:40] Jeff: [00:34:40] there a book you’ve got everything there.

[00:34:42] Posts links to books, social media resources, videos. That’s a great place to go. And I would, I would urge you to connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m happy to do that as well. If you have any questions, just reach out my pleasure. Great. 

[00:34:58] Joe: [00:34:58] Thanks very much for your time. Jeff has been fantastic. [00:35:00] Thank you so much.

[00:35:01] You’ve been listening to making better decisions, podcasts for product leaders, to get show notes, transcripts, and more. Go to Mr. forward slash podcast. Otherwise please leave a rating or a comment in your podcast app. It really helps me. Yeah, it really helps the show. See you next time.

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I'm Joe Leech and I 10x leaders, the business and the products and services they create. I bring 15 years in tech, $20b in revenue, experience with 30+ startups & FTSE100 / Fortune100 giants. Together we can do great things. Work with me.

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