The Illusion of Choice

I love a good card trick. We can apply the illusion of choice to user interactions within our Product.

I love a good card trick.

In one of my favourite trick endings, I’ll lay 6 cards out on the table, facedown. I secretly know the position of your chosen card. Then I’ll ask you to point to 3 of the cards.

If your card is one of the 3 you pointed at, I’ll take away the three you didn’t choose, letting you assume I was asking you which cards to keep. Otherwise, I’ll do the opposite, letting you assume I was asking you which cards to remove.

Repeat this step by pointing at 2 cards, and then again (if required) for the very last card. In the end, you feel like you’ve chosen exactly which card was left on the table.

We can apply this illusion of choice to the user interactions within our Product. We often see this when an app asks us for our review, either “Now”, or “Later”.

This can be implemented in any number of ways to influence the behaviour of our customers.

We just updated our platform with a new feature! Would you like a guided tour of the changes?

We had a problem processing your payment.

We received your request for a quote, but we need more information.

What user behaviour would you like to change? How can you use the illusion of choice, to help them make that change?

Data Means Nothing

Data can mean anything, therefore it means nothing. How, then, can we extract meaning from a dataset?

Two shoe salesmen were sent into “darkest Africa” to feel out the potential  shoe market. The first telegraphed home saying: it’s hopeless stop nobody here wears shoes. The second telegraphed back saying: it’s wonderful stop nobody has any shoes.

As Product Managers, we work with a lot of data. Sometimes we even hire a data scientist to go through our data and tell us what it means.

Framing is the lens through which we view data. Since we all have different brains (and hence different frames) the same data will always represent something different to different analysts. Data can be objective. Recommendations based on that data can never be.

Data can mean anything, therefore it means nothing.

How, then, can we extract meaning from a dataset? One very effective method is to look hidden assumptions.

Suppose your analytics show a temporary downtick in traffic during February. One might assume that this is simply a natural ebb, another may assume that February must be a low month in your industry, a third may assume that there was a technical error has since been resolved.

To extract meaning from these analytics, ask yourself:

What assumption am I making,
That I’m not aware I’m making,
That gives me what I see?

Challenging this assumption will help you learn something new about your product (a competitor launched, an industry event, a political influence), which you can then leverage to your advantage.

Props to Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander for inspiration.

Minimum Viable Marketing

Most marketing campaigns, aim to reach as many eyes as possible. Here’s another approach: Minimum Viable Marketing.

We’ve all heard about lean product development principles: Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), measure its performance, and iterate.

We could apply this same principle to many Product disciplines. Take marketing, for example. Often, a Product team will hire a marketing manager or consultant and launch a campaign, aiming to reach as many eyes as possible.

Here’s another approach: A Minimum Viable Marketing (MVM) campaign.

Define a small campaign targeted only at the early adopters amongst your market segment, using words like Innovative, Pioneer, Breakthrough, Private, Limited, and Now. Choose just one channel to reach them on.

No need to build out every asset for every medium. No need to get the alignment just so. No need for pixel perfection. No need to wordsmith.

Since you’re starting small, take the time to get to know your audience. Talk with them, without any hint of self-promotion. Show them your marketing materials and gauge their thoughts and reactions.

Then iterate.

Be Quiet

We have something new to learn from everyone.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
— Walt Disney

Are you curious?

Curiosity and silence go together.

Curiosity is about searching and discovery. Things that get in the way of that are pride, arrogance, loudness, teaching, and even problem solving.

You can’t sell and be curious at the same time.

You need to be quiet.

Listen. Really listen. Empathise. Be quiet.

We have something new to learn from everyone: the elderly, our children, the arrogant, the meek.

In every conversation: Stop evaluating, and listen for something to learn.

 

Choosing the Right Metrics for Distributed Teams

Office environments have a built-in productivity tracking tool: Visibility. But how do you keep remote teams accountable?

There’s a temptation to burden remote workers with a tonne of metrics.

When managers don’t trust their staff to be productive at home, the staff are often closely scrutinised with daily standups, daily roundups, and to-the-minute time tracking.

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Office to Officeless

Is it possible to transition from office to officeless? There’s only one thing you need.

When espousing the benefits of Distributed Teams, as I often do, I’m often told “but Luke, remote work wouldn’t succeed in my business”. And do you know what? You’re right.

Is it possible to transition from office to officeless? Not with that attitude.

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Mixing Remote and Local Teams

Integrating remote workers into a local team can be difficult, because they don’t share office (and post-office) interactions.

Having a mixed location workforce feels like a natural step when transitioning to a fully distributed business, yet this intermediate step can present its own unique challenges.

Integrating remote workers into a non-remote team can be difficult because they don’t share physical office interactions with the local team.

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Product Development Strategy

Great ideas happen. When working with a new product idea, this is the Product Development process I like to go through.

When great ideas happen, it’s important to be ready with a Product Development Strategy so that your idea can grow into a product.

Who doesn’t love a step-by-step guide? When I’m working through a new product idea for myself or a friend, this is the process I go through.

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Hypothesis Driven Development

Once you have a hypothesis, you have something to test and validate. Gather data, then conduct an experiment.

An important tool for every Ideas Person. Hypothesis Driven Development is the difference between wandering and way-finding.

Light bulb moments. They happen all the time. You stumble into a pain point or discover a problem and think “Somebody should solve that…”. Then you realise that you should solve it.

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