The Art of Making Better Product Decisions

One of my primary responsibilities at appointmed is not only to improve our product but also to continually refine our internal workflows. It's not just about building a great product; I’d even say that the company itself is the most important product for any business.

We've explored various workflow methodologies over the years, from classic Scrum to Kanban and everything in between. Yet, nothing seemed to truly align with the needs of our small remote team.

About a year ago, we encountered numerous issues within our existing process, prompting me to reevaluate the approach from the ground up. Rather than looking at how other companies manage their workflows, I embarked on a two-month journey to identify what had and hadn’t worked for us throughout the years.

While explaining the entire process would go beyond the scope of a single Slow & Steady issue, one key element emerged: Eliminating knee-jerk reactions.

Meetings are an excellent place for knee-jerk reactions.

Someone presents an idea, the team listens carefully, engages in discussions and debates, and explores various scenarios. It seems like meaningful progress is being made as the meeting concludes, but the truth is, it’s merely an illusion.

"What do you think?"

At this juncture, participants are granted a mere few seconds to respond. Can we realistically expect such hurried answers to be well-considered or deeply insightful? This abruptness often results in a superficial evaluation of the idea or technical implications. They are entirely missing the opportunity for a more thorough and thoughtful analysis.

Consequently, meetings tend to favor quick reactions rather than nuanced considerations, reducing the quality of feedback and the overall decision-making process.

Writing Our Way to Success

Our solution is to submit all ideas in writing.
We call this a “Pitch.”

It includes why this is a great idea (or a problem that needs to be addressed), early concepts of how it could work in the context of the product, technical considerations, and risks involved.

The Pitch is also the place to provide feedback and write down all your thoughts and concerns. (We use Basecamp to manage all of this.)

In contrast to product meetings, presenting ideas in writing and allowing team members to take their time to ponder, formulate their thoughts, and provide written feedback can lead to much more profound and considered responses. This approach mitigates the pressure to respond hastily and encourages team members to offer well-thought-out contributions.

Give it a couple of reads. Once, twice, or even five times. Or maybe let it sit for a while. Sleep on it. Take your time to gather your thoughts. What we value is considered feedback, which ultimately elevates the quality of everything you do.

You can’t get that during a 60-minute meeting.

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