One of my favorite books for product management and development is Rework by the folks at 37Signals. Here are some of my key takeaways that I always try to remember:
- Quick wins: Get something done (even if it is really small), and move on to the next thing
- Simplify, simplify: Keep solutions simple, don’t try to account for every potential issue that might arise
- Long lists don’t get done: Long lists make you feel guilty and they never get done. Break one long to do list into a bunch of smaller to do lists
- Break down your estimations: The smaller something is, the easier it is to estimate
- Make tiny decisions: Big decisions are intimidating, and we usually put them off. Breakdown your decisions, so you can keep the momentum going
- Checklists: If something is a repeatable process, make a checklist so you no longer need to think about it
- Complexity = Simplicity + Noise: If something is ambiguous, breakdown the complexity into buckets
One buzz word for the past couple decades has been “workflow automation.” As a technologist and someone who values efficiency, the intent of these ideas and the systems are important, but their implementation tends to get a little sloppy on the details.
One area where the rubber hits the road are system generated emails. Usually, a system generated email requires the user to take some sort of action, or to be notified of something. Here are some guiding principles that I recommend for developing a strong system generated email:
- Minimum Customization (i.e. variable copy): Since emails have to go through copyedit reviews, the communication departments, the legal teams, etc. — keep it simple. Less is more.
- Minimum HTML Formatting: The email has a purpose and really does not need too many bells and whistles — every added second to download to the users phone or computer reduces the chance of action.
- Consistency between Subject, Body and Footer: Humans proceess what they read in patterns. If the content is structured in a way to make it easy for the reader to understand, then there is a higher chance of response.
- Subject: [What does this have to do with?]:[What is the action?]
- Body: Identify Main Actor; State Needed Action; State Alternative Scenario and Action (if needed)
- Footer: What to reference for help? Who to speak with for help?
- Active Voice: All copy should be in the active voice
Thanks for reading.
We all have biases. The most important step we can take as leaders is to bring awareness to our biases to ensure our decisions are based in objective truths as much as possible.
The below list is excellent for reflecting on and reviewing during key decisions, or even to see who you are being on a day-to-day basis in work (and, life)!
- Affinity bias – The tendency to gravitate towards people who remind us of ourselves.
- Halo effect – The tendency to always see someone in a positive light because of their title or because you like them.
- Perception bias – The tendency to form stereotypes and assumptions about certain groups that make objective decision making impossible.
- Confirmation bias – The tendency for people to only seek out information that confirms their preexisting beliefs or assumptions.
- Group-think – The tendency for people to go along with the group rather than voicing their individual thoughts and beliefs.
Source: UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Program Director of Executive Development, Horace McCormick, Jr. via Google Beats Unconscious Bias by Teaching Its Employees These 4 Tactics