Over the past 3 months, I’ve written a number of posts inspired by the book Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath. I’m a big fan of their work and so much of the research from Decisive is directly applicable to building great products. I highly recommend that everyone read it. If you need help applying the content, the following posts might help.
I started the series with Be Prepared to Be Wrong. For many of us, this is something we don’t want to hear. We love being right. But if our goal is to serve our audiences, then we need to accept this as reality.
In Stop Asking Whether or Not Questions, I tell a story that I’m sure most product folks can relate to. It begins with our Director of Sales asking whether or not we’ll build a specific feature. I’m sure most of you hear this every day. But this is the wrong question to ask. Instead, we should be asking, what’s the best thing we can build to meet our goals. It might sound like the same question, but the former narrows our frame while the later helps us explore more options.
But the latter question can be daunting to answer. Fortunately, the post Start an Idea Journal can help. It explains why you need to generate many ideas every day, and outlines some tips for how to do so.
How to Make Better Decisions illustrates the many decisions we encounter every day.
In Find Someone Else Who Has Solved Your Problem Before, we look at a challenging design problem and explore how drawing inspiration from others who have encountered the problem before can help to uncover solutions that you might not otherwise consider.
Why You Only See What You Want To See continues to be one of the most popular posts in the series. It looks at the role of the confirmation bias and how it impacts what insights you pull from user research and customer development. If you only read one post in the series, read this one.
In Turn Your Inside View Outward, I encourage you to find base rates rather than getting caught up in the specifics of your particular situation. So often, we assume that our solution will perform better than the averages. This post will show you how to avoid these mental errors.
Similarly, in How The 10/10/10 Rule Can Lead To Better Product Decisions, we look at how changing your time perspective can help you better understand the importance and expected impact of a decision. This has been one of the most useful mental tricks I’ve learned.
In You Only Prefer It That Way Because It’s Familiar, we look at how loss aversion and familiarity are working against you when you roll out new product changes and how you can help your audience out by taking these factors into account. If you are getting a lot of push back when you release product changes, this post is for you.
Help Other Make Good Product Decisions Too outlines how you can both communicate how product decisions are made and ensure that other people are able to make similarly good decisions when you aren’t around.
In You Probably Suck At Estimating (And What You Can Do About It), we tackle one of the biggest challenges product development teams face. How do you predict velocity? How long will it take for a team to build your product? This post is full of great tips for improving estimates.
In Don’t Overcommit to a Bad Idea, we look at how to set tripwires so that you don’t fall prey to escalating commitment. The more you invest in an idea, the more committed to it you will become. Even when the world is telling you it’s not working. Don’t skip this one.
And finally, I wrapped up the series with Don’t Make Snap Product Decisions. This post introduces the concept of procedural justice and explains why the process you use to make decisions is just as important s the decisions themselves.
It’s been a fun ride. There’s a lot of great content in Decisive. If you found these posts interesting and want to learn more, pick up a copy.
I’d appreciate it if you took a minute and told me what you think. Did you like this series? Want to see more like it? Was it too much? Please share in the comments.
hala saleh (@HalaSaleh1) says
I just got the book after reading some of your awesome posts about it – looking forward to reading the rest of your posts and the book!
Teresa Torres says
It’s a great read!
Olaf Kowalik (@OlafKowalik) says
Teresa, I enjoyed the Heath brothers’ other book, Made To Stick, and your blog post makes me want to read Decisive. We talk a lot about process and execution when it comes to product management, but rarely specifically about making decisions, which is something product managers do a lot. I like how you highlight a lot of decision biases in the posts above; particularly, “Don’t Overcommit to Bad Ideas” and “Don’t Make Snap Product Decisions.” Reading this post makes me wonder whether the product manager’s trusty execution gene gets in the way of thoughtful examination of the decision making process. I think there’s a lot of benefit to team learning when we unravel the way our decisions are made and have that be a part of the retrospective. Thanks!
Teresa Torres says
I, too, enjoyed Made to Stick and Switch (also by the Heath brothers). And I couldn’t agree more that many product managers focus on execution. Execution is really important but if you are going in the wrong direction or building the wrong things, executing better isn’t going to help you.
Thanks for taking the time to comment!