Learn by making, not talking.
Principle 4: How might your team ship to learn?
Lane creates insightful product experiences and leads effective, empathetic teams, including the Product and Design team here at Coda.
Learning by making
Here are three ideas for how you can put this principle into practice:
Putting it into practice
(a) Amazon’s decision framework — one-way and two-way doors.One thing that keeps teams in a cycle of talking instead of making is misunderstanding whether the key choices in the experience are one-way doors or two-way doors. Popularized by Jeff Bezos, the question is whether a decision or experience is reversible or not. If it’s not reversible, then it’s a one-way door and the team needs to proceed with caution. If it’s a two-way door, and the experience or decision can be reversed, then the team should consider biasing toward making and shipping. I’ve found that having this shared language on a team is imperative because often choices get framed as one-way doors by default when they are indeed two-way doors. You can read more about this concept and see an exercise in this template.
(b) DoorDash’s cupcake — build the smallest version to learn.I heard one great example of learning by making at a dinner with Tony Xu, DoorDash’s CEO. I believe the metaphor originally comes from Peter Merholz. To paraphrase Tony, most people aim to describe the biggest version of how a plan can be executed when the plan is proposed. But at DoorDash, they strive to start with the absolute smallest version of what could be executed, then go try it in a single geography, or with a small set of customers. In other words, they bake a cupcake without any expectation that it will turn into a full-sized cake.
(c) Intercom’s mantra — shipping is the beginning of the process.In discussing the principle of ‘learn by making’ with a few people, I learned of Paul Adam’s blog post about how shipping is the start of the learning process at Intercom. Paul’s ideas resonate and my favorite line from the post is:
Principles 5-7We'll explore accountability, being poised under pressure, and more.
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The PM role, and building product, is fraught with ambiguity. Explore proven principles used by today's best product teams to turn ambiguity into clarity.