Some solid tips for navigating decisions under uncertainty from Twitter’s Director of Product Management, Ameet Ranadive. I’ve found similar ideas to be super helpful in navigating product development when there are many unknowns. Here’s my take on his three key points:
- Day one hypothesis: I find it’s helpful to spend some time coming up with an initial hypothesis and then recording it. Your views, expectations, and opinions will change rapidly as you see new data and continue the dialog with your team. Everyone’s thinking will evolve very quickly so it’s helpful to understand what your starting point was, what changed, and how you got there. Being able to reconstruct your decision-making is very helpful for improving your decision-making process.
- Directionally correct + order of magnitude > the perfect estimate: It’s easy to suffer from analysis paralysis when trying to make the perfect decision or estimate. And, most analytical people easily fall into this trap. We flesh out our models with as much detail as possible in an attempt to be precise, but that often misses the purpose of the exercise… figuring out what to do next. By refocusing on being directionally correct and getting the order of magnitude right, you’ll have a much easier time making decisions and estimates that you’re comfortable relying on.
- What do you have to believe - force yourself to figure out which data points are required to make a given decision and then come up with a notion of confidence in your estimates for each one. Inevitably, there will be some shaky estimates in there. Focus on what those need to be in order achieve different scenarios and then vet each case. Essentially, you isolate the most variable component and then drill into it as much as possible.
I hope you find this helpful!