Category Archives: Leadership

Broken Windows – Right Idea, Bad Analogy

It is well understood that no product is perfect and small issues will always exist. Without an ongoing mechanism to fix those issues, not only do they not get fixed, they pile up. Having a clear Lexicon and Taxonomy is …Continue reading

Mechanisms

Mechanisms are complete processes built around a tool, owned by a leader, that get adopted broadly and are regularly inspected, and improved to ensure things get done, not because everyone has good intentions, but because the elements of the mechanism structurally force the desired behavior. “Good intentions never work, …Continue reading

Path To Green

A Path To Green (PTG) is clear, crisp, and complete statement describing a team’s plan for how to get a project from yellow/red status to green. This post describes the concept and provides some tips on how to be excellent at …Continue reading

Tenets

This post was inspired by a recent LinkedIn post by Dave Glick who was apparently the “Godfather of Tenets” at Amazon. Much of the content of this post is from notes I took in a class on Tenets at Amazon. …Continue reading

Work Backwards From The Customer

At the 1996 Microsoft Professional Developer Conference (PDC) I stood up in front of 8,000 customers and announced what I’d been working on for the previous two years: the Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM). On stage, in front of all those people, we …Continue reading

Have Specific Conversations, not General Conversations

If you are discussing a topic with colleagues, it’s almost always better to have a specific conversation instead of a general conversation. General Conversation Specific Conversation “We need to figure out how to scrub all open bugs.” Followed by a …Continue reading

Kindel’s 2nd Law

Kindel’s 2nd Law – Companies with a subscriptions-based business model eventually behave in ways hostile to that company’s customers. Charlie Kindel – July 2019 Woot! I now have two laws named after me. This law was originally coined in a …Continue reading

Taxonomy and Lexicon

How many times have you been in a heated discussion only to find out that the two sides were talking past each other because they were reading from two different dictionaries? I bet you can also remember situations where just …Continue reading

One-Way and Two-Way Doors

Effective decision making starts with understanding, in the long-term, very, very few things actually matter. The vast majority of the decisions made day-to-day are either minutia or easily reversible and can be made quickly. However, a small number of things (about …Continue reading

Mental Models

You’ve probably noticed people you work with who are effective at leading can frame complex ideas simply. They’ll lead conversations like this: “Well, I think there are three things we should focus on, not 15, and they are…” “Folks, I …Continue reading

Lead Without Authority

There are two forms of influence in the world: Influence by authority Influence without authority When a ‘boss’ (a manager or someone with a big title) attempts to influence change or drive action using only their authority, it is rarely …Continue reading

Focusing on users is not Customer Obsession

Let’s talk Customer Obsession and how it is different than user obsession. My definitions: Customer: An individual (or entity) that pays you, directly or indirectly, for value you provide. User: An individual that is forced to use something you provide. Users fall …Continue reading

Debate Tenets

If you read my ancient blog post “the 5Ps” (Purpose, Principles, Priorities, People, Plan) you’ll see I’ve long thought having a set of guiding principles for any project is important. At Amazon I learned there was a synonym to the word principle: …Continue reading

The Tension is Intentional

It is no accident many of the Amazon Leadership Principles seemingly contradict each other: they were carefully selected and crafted to encourage leaders to be thoughtful about the gray area. Bias for Action vs. Think Big represent favorite example of …Continue reading

Good Intentions are Never Enough

Everyone has good intentions… Everyone WANTS to do the right thing (e.g. read the doc sent out by email the night before). But good intentions are never enough. Stuff doesn’t get done based solely on people’s good intentions. Change can’t …Continue reading

Have Strong Opinions, Weakly Held

This week’s tip relates to the Are right, A Lot leadership Amazon Leadership Principle: Leaders are right a lot. They have strong business judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs. A great mnemonic …Continue reading

Everyone’s a Leader

The word leader is defined as: leader noun a person or thing that leads. The word leader is not a synonym of manager. Everyone is a leader. It’s entirely possible for a people manager to be a poor leader (which …Continue reading

Have a Plan (With Dates)

I’ve written a lot on the importance of having a plan. This week’s Leadership Principle tip doubles-down on that. Consider a status update: Bad: “The team will investigate the issue.” Good: “The team will complete the investigation of the issue …Continue reading

How Meeting/Not-Meeting Goals relates to Earn Trust and Insist on Highest Standards

This week’s Leadership Principle tip is about how setting goals, and holding yourself accountable, relates to Earn Trust and Insist on Highest Standards.Continue reading

Dive Deep != Micromanaging

You’ve said it. You’ve heard others say it. You are not quite sure how you feel about it. “So-and-so is a micro-manager. He/she’s always in my shorts and doesn’t let me just do my job.” This week’s Leadership Principle tip …Continue reading