(In)efficiency rocks

Maybe the headline is a bit controversial, but let me try to explain what I mean.

Oftentimes I see products that are super efficient in who they are targeted towards. You can see from the product and the words being used to tell about it that the team behind has been guided by a very clear idea of who they were building the product for.

All that is good. In some respects. But potentially limiting in others.

Of course it’s great to have alignment with who you are solving a problem for as it should increase your chances of getting Product Market-fit for your product. The flipside however is that that exact approach has a risk of you being limited in your thinking and thus in what your product could do and become, if you had a bigger perspective.

A lot of this has to do with setting the right strategy, and even though many will claim that they have had thoughtful strategy processes, it is also rather safe to say that not all people who work on developing strategies are great strategists.

If for instance the people in charge of developing your product strategy are very minded on a specific outcome, chances are that they will build the plan that suits their purpose and delivers on what they wanted in the first place. And they might very well not be the best or most profitable plan.

Thus what you should do is first of all to ensure that your strategy planning has the right source of altitude from the beginning, so you really get the broadest possible view of the horizon. And then you should go about being inefficient in building your product.

Now, that sounds pretty horrible, so what does it mean?

Essentially it just means that you should resist the urge to have a specific, narrow outcome in mind and build your product towards that. Yes, you might be able to get a very efficient process going towards that goal, but the goal itself may well turn out to be limiting.

Instead by taking a more inefficient approach you’re being open towards outcomes. Your mind becomes broader, and your thinking in terms of how your product can be applied and for whom will be bigger and ultimately have greater chance of profitability. Provided of course that the features and value proposition of the product itself is still razor sharp.

(Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash)

The living room clinic

Have you ever tried going to a hospital for a consultation on something only to end up feeling it was a bit of a waste of time?

I certainly have. While I have the utmost respect for doctors, I find the format of a 20 minute chat that in essence can ruin an entire day somehow obsolete. And when I combine that with the financial strain the healthcare sector is under, I cannot help thinking that we should be able to do it in a much better way.

So here’s an idea:

What if we left the hospitals for the really sick? Those with such severe problems that they need to be there physically to receive the absolute best care. And then leave the doctors to focus on that?

What if on top of that we moved all the consultations – the chats, status updates etc. – to the comfort of peoples own homes. Moved the clinics into the living rooms so to say?

The technology is more or less there. And the readiness is getting there too.

On the technology side we have more and more point-of-care devices and services that we can use in the comfort of our own homes. Sensors get developed all the time enabling us to be always-on with the healthcare systems, if we need to be. And they are all getting easier to use effectively driving down the barrier of usage.

On the readiness side, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. We all now realize that we need to find new solutions that are not based on physical presence, and in those terms the past year has done more for acceptance of telemedicine than the past couple of decades combined.

Maybe such a move towards the living room might also have some other unintended positive consequences?

Maybe communication between patient and doctors would improve? Coming into the hospital clinic on the doctors home turf might be a challenge to patients who may leave after a consultation feeling that they didn’t get to tell, how they were really feeling or what really bothered them, because they were somehow stifled by ‘the system’.

Maybe being able to communicate from your own living room based on your own observations and own readings would level the playing field more and – ultimately – lead to better outcomes?

It is certainly worth to take this unique moment in time to investigate the potential positive impact of the clinic in the living room more.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Roadmap of experiments

When trying to understand a problem, it’s potential solutions and what you should build in the end, it is so easy to loose the big picture of what you’re doing and how that translates down to experiment by experiment that moves your product closer to something desirable.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

One of the things I have found extremely useful is to build out an Experiment Roadmap; a sequence of experiments I think I am going to run in a particular order to get to the insights I need, before I feel confident in what our MVP should include.

The roadmap is important to have in order not to loose track. But it is not necessarily the actual roadmap. Because as we go about experimenting and being open to digesting our learnings and move on from them in the best possible manner, our roadmap changes.

So in fact we end up with the theoretical roadmap and the real one.

Why not just have the real one then and forget about trying to outline it in the first place?

Because outlining your thought process and your path towards anticipated learning and validation is an excellent catalyst for my own thought process. It ensures that I think about how NOT to fall into the abyss of just building what I feel, we should be building, without any prior experimentation.

In order words: Laying it out in front ensures that we follow the path of generating insights and validated learnings, before we build. And the actual roadmap of experiments is how the journey to get to the MVP actually forms.

By doing it this way we also get a chance of comparing notes and learn from our approach as we go along. What was the difference between ‘thinking’ and ‘doing’ and why do we think that was the case.

Those answers may be able to serve us very well and make us sharper, better and more efficient going forward. At least that is what I am betting on.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Mindmapping rules

I have become a big fan of mindmapping. And specially the application SimpleMind Pro for Mac.

When you have a lot of ideas, keeping a hold of them can be super tricky. This is exactly where mindmapping comes in handy; with the right application if allows you to structure your thoughts at more or less the same pace as your train of thoughts.

I now use mindmapping for several specific purposes;

I use it during meetings for notes and for structuring comments and ideas that arise from our discussions. And also for mapping out follow-up items, to do’s and the likes to make sure that I never leave a meeting without an idea about what to do next.

I use it for preparation of meetings and workshops and for something as basic as structuring an agenda, so I don’t need to fire up Powerpoint and do it as I start building a presentation out slide by slide. I find that it gets a lot more concise when I do it this way.

I use it for structuring arguments ahead of difficult conversations or meetings, where I can think about every possible argument and how to counter them in order to achieve alignment and progress on what we need to achieve.

And of course I use it for regular brainstorming and structuring thoughts and processes needed for work.

Come to think of it, I have a hard time understanding why I haven’t been using it before. It is just so efficient and perhaps one of the best productivity hacks, I have ever come across.

You should try it too.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Corona thoughts, part 7

When we discuss the future of (remote) work, we should not only discuss the various digital tools that enable this but also the foundation for it all to work: Great, stable connectivity.

At the start of the lockdown, I finally got our household on the new fiber connection, I ordered almost a year ago. Before that we had TV, laptops, iPads and mobile phones on a wobbly 20Mb on/off connection through copper that would have completely crashed with the added stress of fulltime remote work for two people AND home schooling.

In other words: We were lucky to get a bump up connection in time. And I have a sense that access to the right connectivity will be yet another divider of the haves and have nots going forward. Because if your basic infrastructure is not in place and up for the job, no fancy tools are going to make you efficient from a distance.

PS: My now soon-to-be-former provider adviced me to not send their router back but instead ship it to a museum. Funny, although…interesting…that a provider charges premium prices for something they know is antiquated.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Powering up Slack

It is no secret that I have found falling in love with Slack very challenging. Perhaps it is my Microsoft-past with Outlook and (yes) Clippy (and yes, there is a full documentary on YouTube about that one) that haunts me, but I have found the channel setup and the various direct messages threads challenging.

Not any more. I am now firmly in the Slack boat. Why? Because it is just so much easier, when you are working with different teams on different projects to keep up to date and keep the momentum, than it is through email.

It literally only takes a couple of seconds to ask a question on Slack and move on. It boosts the productivity and moves things along even if you have a limited number of hands. Just set up a workspace for each team and integrate them all in the Slack-app, and you’re good. Now, the next challenge is for it not to become too easy and just overwhelm the various workspaces and channels with pointless chit chat.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)