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When everything is chaos, focus on these 3 things

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Slides Andrew Hsu recently used in his discussion w/ mentees of The Product Mentor.

Synopsis: When everything is in chaos because you work at a start up, here are the only three things that matter for you to focus on. This will help you focus and keep moving forward.

The Product Mentor is a program designed to pair Product Mentors and Mentees from around the World, across all industries, from start-up to enterprise, guided by the fundamental goals…Better Decisions. Better Products. Better Product People.

Throughout the program, each mentor leads a conversation in an area of their expertise that is live streamed and available to both mentee and the broader product community.

http://TheProductMentor.com

Published in: Business
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When everything is chaos, focus on these 3 things

  1. 1. When everything is chaos, focus on these 3 things. Andrew Hsu
  2. 2. About me... Past Electrical engineer for oil-refineries 7+ years as a product manager Present Building high performing cultures
  3. 3. In cooking: Heat, time, and space on the pan.
  4. 4. In project management: Scope, people, time
  5. 5. In chaos: Customers, team, yourself
  6. 6. What could chaos be?
  7. 7. Zombie apocalypse...
  8. 8. ZombieCorp.
  9. 9. focus #1 Your customer
  10. 10. How do I deliver customer impact?
  11. 11. 1. What are the customer needs and their deadlines? 2. What are your constraints? 3. How soon do we need to deliver on these needs? 4. Work backwards 5. Who needs to know? Do
  12. 12. Customer needs, deadlines, and constraints
  13. 13. Transylvania Needs ● Cure/defense against zombies ● Keep morale up ● 1,000 people (army) Deadline ● 4 days until zombies arrive Constraints ● Can only send one solution a day ● Instant communication ● Have zombies to test solutions ● We have 4 potential solutions Pegasus Needs ● Cure/defense against zombies ● Keep morale up for ● 20 people (like comedy) Deadline ● 31 days until zombies arrive Constraints ● 10 days to deliver one solution ● Can only send one at a time ● Instant communication ● No zombies to test on ● We have 4 potential solutions
  14. 14. Timeline and work backwards
  15. 15. 1000 people Z arrives in 4 days Day 1, experiment 1 Day 2, experiment 2 Day 3, experiment 3 20 people Z arrive in 31 days Day 10 Day 20 Day 30
  16. 16. Cure Extra day to test Garlic Immediate effect; tasty Customer 1 Jerry Seinfeld Also funny Sharp pointy things Defense no matter what Customer 2 Known solution set
  17. 17. 1000 people Day 1 - Tasty treats Day 2 - Know effectiveness Day 3 - Some defense 20 people Day 10 - Laughs Day 20 - Already know from Transylvania what the solution is, send solution and check on morale Day 30
  18. 18. Who needs to know?
  19. 19. Who do we need to talk to? Engineers Designers Communications Customer 1 Customer 2 The business
  20. 20. focus #2 Your team
  21. 21. Who do we need to talk to? Engineers Designers Communication The business
  22. 22. 1. Effectively frame customer need & problem 2. Facilitate problem solve -- 1. Define owners and set expectations 2. Take action To take care of the team
  23. 23. How do I effectively frame the problem and enable problem solving?
  24. 24. ● Customer context ● Where are we today? ● Straw solution ● Where do we need to go for the next delivery? Framing
  25. 25. Customer context, constraints, today, tomorrow
  26. 26. Transylvania 1,000 person army Customer 1 today ● 4 days until zombies arrive ● 1000 people ● They’ve tried 5 solutions, nothing has worked ● OK morale Customer 1 constraints ● 1 day to deliver/test solution = 3 tests ● Can only send one solution a day ● Instant communication ● We have 4 potential solutions Need to go: 1. Cure for zombies 2. Keep up morale Pegasus 20 person comedy lovers Customer 2 today ● 31 days until zombies arrive ● 20 people ● Low morale Customer 1 constraints ● 10 days to deliver supplies ● Can only send 1 solution ● Instant communication ● No zombies to test on ● We have 4 potential solutions Need to go: 1. Get morale up 2. Zombie defense
  27. 27. Straw solution
  28. 28. 1000 people Z arrives in 4 days Day 1, experiment 1 Day 2, experiment 2 Day 3, experiment 3 20 people Z arrive in 31 days Day 10 Day 20 Day 30
  29. 29. 1000 people Day 1 - Tasty treats Day 2 - Know effectiveness Day 3 - Some defense 20 people Day 10 - Already know from Transylvania what the solution is, send solution and check on morale Day 20 Day 30
  30. 30. ● Frame and guide ● Encourage expansive problem solving ● Then, reductive problem solving ● Solutions into timeline ● Write down decisions ● End: Set owners and define expected outcomes Facilitate x-functional problem solving
  31. 31. Owners and expectations
  32. 32. 1000 people Day 1 - Garlic Owners ● Engineers - v1 built by 2pm ● Design - v1 by 2pm ● Comm. - Immediately convey plan ● Business - immediate approval of #’s ● Delivery - 10pm tonight Expectations ● 60% confidence this will solve the problem ● Given how these things go, there’s a 40% chance shipment 1 doesn’t work. As soon as shipment 1 is ready, we need to prep shipment 2. 20 people Day 10 - Already know from Transylvania what the solution is, send solution and check on morale Owners ● Engineers - v1 built by 2pm ● Design - v1 by 4pm ● Comm. - Immediately convey plan ● Business - immediate approval of #’s ● Delivery - 12pm tonight Expectations ● Given Customer 1 will determine best solution, we’re optimizing for morale. ● Given extended time from, customer 1 takes priority ● 60% chance Jerry improves morale
  33. 33. focus #3 Yourself
  34. 34. How do I make these situations sustainable and how does my current work drive your career?
  35. 35. ● You ● Your career Parts
  36. 36. You
  37. 37. ● You can only do one thing at a time ● Chaos will happen again, what’s your approach? ● Take care of yourself You
  38. 38. ● Unplug ● Turn off notifications ● Sit still for 10 minutes or go for a walk You - be in a good state to problem solve
  39. 39. ● Write down all your thoughts and concerns ● Chunk up the work → top problems ● Prioritize the top 1 to 3 problems ● High level solve ● Pressure test with a boss or colleague You - prioritize
  40. 40. ● Working down the list ● Determine x-functional team needed ● Set up that team meeting You - get to solving + find allies
  41. 41. Your career and performance review
  42. 42. ● Can you explain your performance review system? ● What criteria are you graded on? ● What’s the review process? ● Can you mesh your current work into a review? Your performance review
  43. 43. ● Output based ● Ratings based ● Friend based Your performance review system
  44. 44. ● Ask HR ● Ask your boss ● Ask a colleague ● Find metrics for success Your performance review system
  45. 45. ● System - 360 review ● Last review: “You need to show more ownership.” ● For the current project, draft your statement Example
  46. 46. Your performance review Zombies I spoke with each customer and stakeholder to determine customer needs, customer constraints, and our constraints. After that, I created a straw model solution and set up / managed a cross-functional sprint to ideate and settle upon the best solution (attached). Once complete, we assigned ownership, dates, and I managed the process through its twists and turns. Day 3 for customer 1, we found a solution, and everyone lived happily ever after. In the future, I’m excited to work with 3 customers and our new merman division.
  47. 47. In chaos: Customer, team, yourself
  48. 48. Thanks! andrew.hsu@vegafactor.com www.vegafactor.com
  49. 49. Appendix
  50. 50. Situation today ● 4 days until zombies arrive ● 1000 people ● They’ve tried 5 solutions, nothing has worked ● Morale is ok Need to go: ● Cure for zombies ● Keep up morale ● Best chance for success ● Fastest learning Situation today ● 31 days until zombies arrive ● 20 people ● Morale is ok Need to go: ● Cure for zombies ● Keep up morale ● Best chance for success ● Fastest learning

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