Edition #13: One secret I learned from companies that scale their teams and business, 3 posts that you may have missed

Hello Friends,

Hope all of you are well.

I am covering 4 topics this week. One is a new piece to reflect upon a crucial aspect of how your teams and business function.

Three pieces are recapped here, in case you missed them last week. I felt those are worth re-sharing.

One secret I learned from companies that scale their teams and business

Every month I talk to half a dozen leaders from various companies. I am listening for challenges. Their answer to this question is rarely different. It is always some form of “We don't have any documentation” followed by reasoning to cover it. I am glad, teams working on critical projects, Planes, Vaccines don't buy into reasons or give one. So, I draw your attention to the benefits of investing in the knowledge management system.

This post will help senior leaders see the potential in time and tools investments. This post will help leads and architects understand how companies scale solutions. They can 10x their own value in the market.

At the end of this article, you would be able to pinpoint weaknesses in your system. You will be able to zoom into a couple of places where you can start taking action.

I have gained these insights over 16 years. I have worked with hundreds of companies, including Fortune 50s. These have ranged from developers to CIOs, Business and IT leaders, and Store managers. I studied, observed, and learned from top companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google. I also learned from niche companies like Basecamp.

Basecamp, Amazon uses a 6-page writing process for presenting new ideas. They have built a culture of writing. They don't encourage presentations. Instead, they encourage writing things down and flushing the idea. Presentations are easy for presenters but transfer the hard work to listeners. Writing is harder for presenters, but it makes ideas crystal clear.

The other side is a complete contrast. Working long hours is a badge of honor. But they frown upon the idea of putting a wiki page or a shared knowledge piece. People hesitate to write things down. They view it as a wastage of time.

Who is winning? Which method is working well?

I am yet to find a company scale without knowledge management in place and being methodical.

Why do a large majority of companies and leaders shirk from the documentation?

  • Technology changes fast.
  • Constant updates are required.
  • Someone needs to think- how much to document?
  • Writing and reading are hard. Talking is easier.
  • Writing creates ownership of decisions (supposed to be a good thing)
  • It is time-consuming. (We could have solved world hunger in 1 day. he is writing a darn Solution architecture and a context diagram)
  • Considered a menial job among leaders and techies. Unless as consultants they get paid very well to produce them. Why will the CIO sit down and write something? Heck, why even the team lead should write things down?

Here is why you need to consider investing in building a documentation culture?

  1. Enables distributed teams. We are already able to work from anywhere with a good enough internet connection. It’s not uncommon for Amazon architects to be publishing on weekly basis the work they are doing.
  2. Helps Scale. Large companies may not understand, but entrepreneurs do. Skillshare is a platform built on the same idea. Building a knowledge base is an investment that can scale.
  3. The number #1 tool for the knowledge worker is knowledge itself. It enables collaboration and crowdsourcing of ideas and the generation of even more of them.
  4. Creates clarity and a shared vision.
  5. Outcomes traceability.

What has been your experience?

Posts that you may have missed this week

Netflix's step up to gaining 25% more subscribers

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The low-hanging fruit in business does not have to be a lousy one.

Netflix’s next move can spike its user base by 25%.

Here is what they are doing 👉

We all have used someone’s Netflix account or shared ours with someone.

Netflix has 221 global subscribers. 72 million in the US alone.

It is realizing an opportunity in such non-paying users using shared or borrowed accounts.

How?

By creating Cue/triggers/Incentives, enable & reinforce better behaviors.

💡 It is giving the ability for users to transfer the existing profiles to a new account. The user keeps their history, recommendations, and the magic of the Netflix algorithm.

💡 It is giving the ability to add up to 2 sub-accounts(for South American geo) at reduced pricing.

Both of these will enable Netflix to discover new users( who will pay).

Both of these will enable users with their own accounts/passwords.

This could help Netflix discover 10-20 million new users. 🔥

Post-Discovery, there is an opportunity to move these users up the revenue chain.

So, remember-

👉Low-hanging fruits don't have to be lousy.

👉Every massive opportunity is not dependent on a huge technology transformation.

👉Customer stickiness, Content is king.

11 Ideas for improving productivity & focus from my experiments

A few experiments have helped me learn, write, share 10x more.

These have affirmed my belief in putting in the reps.

Here are 11 ideas to 10x productivity based on my experiments.

  1. Setup time blocks for social media. Save yourself from the bottomless pit.
  2. Silence notifications- pings, banners across devices.
  3. Get off the endless treadmill of instant email, chats, messaging.
  4. Write and Radiate information via boards, bulletins.
  5. Consume in small portions. Think. Share what you learn.
  6. Constraints(time box, word length, medium) lead to creative solutions.
  7. Always look for that ‘one thing’ on your list which is most critical. Then focus on it.
  8. Priority items, focus time. Work in at least four 1 hour bundles every day (4 X 1 hr focused)
  9. Batch similar tasks and attack them in one go. Much faster and more efficient.
  10. Visualizing the next 3-6 months and blocking time for key activities is a superpower.
  11. Getting started is the hardest. Use Systems, templates to reduce friction.

What are your top tips?

6 Lessons from leading dozens of data transformation

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Leaders often miss the forest for the trees.

There are a few levers to keep your data initiative on track.

Here are those from leading a few dozen transformations. 🎯

⦿ "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". Build a safe culture for people to express, take shared responsibilities, and experiment. Making mistakes should not deter people.

⦿ Abandon the concept of Sunk costs. Cut the cord as the group realizes the hypothesis has turned negative. Learn and pivot.

⦿ Don't overindulge in finding the perfect Platform. Instead, keep things small. As you build let your business needs guide you where you invest. Focus on MVP. Staying small is powerful.

⦿ Security is table stakes today. Focus on security, shared responsibility within the organization. Leverage Security automation at scale.

⦿ Business impact is the holy grail. Every hypothesis should be around growing revenue, reducing cost or better CX. Then let the feedback loop guide ahead.

⦿ How many experiments you are willing to see not yielding results? Jeff Bezos and many others talk about taking bets which may fail. The ones that work, can 10X returns.

So, remember-

  • Focus on a culture shift
  • Learn and pivot quick
  • Security is table stakes
  • Think Value
  • Experimentation mindset