Category Archives: Clarity of Thought

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

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 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

Tools to Achieve Clarity of Thought

This post inventories the tools I use from my toolbox when I need to drive clear thinking in product development. I was inspired to write this based on a Twitter conversation in March: The more details you know, the better …Continue reading

Clear Narratives Show Instead of Tell

This is yet-another-post on the topic of Amazon-style “six-page memos”, aka Narratives. This post focuses on the mantra: “Great narratives show, they don’t tell.” When writing things you believe to be facts, ask yourself: How do I know? How can …Continue reading

Customer, Business, Technology, Organization (CBTO)

CBTO = Customer + Business + Technology + OrganizationContinue reading

Merit Badges – A Mental Model for Success

Today I celebrated my 5th-year anniversary working at Amazon. Woot! It’s also the 5th anniversary of me announcing I was going to Amazon as an April Fool’s joke. Tee-hee. (Yellow Amazon employee badges indicate 5-year tenure) This milestone given me …Continue reading

Attention is the Currency of Leadership

Great leaders optimize how they spend their attention. They are skilled at turning up the heat to get others to focus their attention on the right things at the right times. Attention is the currency of leadership and each person …Continue reading

Have a Plan

Yesterday someone asked me to share my thoughts on the secret to building excellent things. I summarized what I know as: “Put the customer first, have a plan, create a shared mission, get early victories, remove process, and make it …Continue reading

Don’t Make Your Team Say No To You

In early-stage ventures, whether it’s a bootstrapped technology startup, or a new initiative within a big company, the leaders are often visionary “idea people”. The difference between success and failure is how good these leaders are at training their teams …Continue reading

Be as Excellent at Saying No as Saying Yes

While in Amman Jordan last month, I had the opportunity to speak at Amman Tech Tuesdays, a local startup event held every month there. I was asked to talk about what I’ve learned in my career to an audience of …Continue reading

The Job Decision Matrix

Changing jobs can be scary and confusing. Everybody has things that are important to them at a particular point in their career. Thinking clearly about what is important to you can be hard, but without clarity on what is important …Continue reading

You are Thinking of Your Career Trajectory Wrong

Most people think about their career trajectory as being like a bell-curve or that of a cannon ball fired from a cannon. Something like this: For 99% of all successful people, this is completely the wrong way to think about …Continue reading

90% of the Decisions You Make Don’t Matter

In my post The 5 Ps: Achieving Focus in Any Endeavor I noted that “90% of the decisions you make don’t matter; real success comes in being able to identify the 10% that do and focus on those.” The best, …Continue reading

The 5 Ps: Achieving Focus in Any Endeavor

This post is about how to achieve focus in any endeavor you embark on by simply writing down the Purpose, Principles, Priorities, People, and Plan (the 5Ps). An endeavor could be a software development project, a job search, or a …Continue reading