Jobs To Be Done

Don’t walk. Run. Order this now. Honestly, put down the stickies. Put down the customer journey map that you’re working on based on some demographic with unnecessary detail about that suburban mom having two kids. Buy this book now.

I’ve updated this with the link to the e-book

The End of Middle Management

hands working on log

The days of middle management are over. Companies (and middle managers) haven’t noticed it yet.

We avoid complexity by bringing leadership to the work instead of the work to the leadership. That’s an important distinction. Too often, middle management just adds layers of message crafting so the upper-ups can pat someone (them or their boss) on the back. That should never be the goal in this fast-paced world.

Leadership wants results and they need to trust and empower teams to employ the right tactics that will bring those results. The results need to be realistic and the tactics have to be properly scoped. In the end, the leadership no longer dictates how.

Once that is fully realized, middle management disappears by instead rolling up their sleeves to cooperatively bring results.

Data and Screens

If there is a viewable area, there will always be more data than can fit in that viewable area. If that isn’t an axiom, it should be.

We work on data tables that we put in the magazine and then put the same, or even more data on the website. No eye can handle all of that data. It’s not a font size problem (condense it to make it fit) but rather a content detection problem. Our eyes see that there is content but we can’t tear it apart.

Edward Tufte wrote about presenting visual data and the penchant for adding (essentially) chart junk. Noise that doesn’t tell the reader anything new. A table is essentially a chart with data where all the relevant data is important at different points. Which means that at some point of interaction, most of it becomes chart junk. A bit strong but I’m trying to get that point across.

This is the reason why Excel, with almost endless data columns and rows, let’s you freeze rows and columns. Or hide columns. So someone’s eyes can momentarily not deal with the chart junk.

More Than Words

scrabble board letters

Words convey meaning. They are vehicles for conveying information. Or ideas.

Words are often perspectival. “My heart aches” means something very different if I’m currently breaking up with you or if I am having a heart attack. That is not only a matter of context but of what I am experiencing.

Sometimes though, trying to perfectly convey meaning, words get in our way from making real progress. We spend more time discussing what this or that should be called instead of testing it with real people.

Consider the case of telling someone to get off the train tracks. Instead of finding the right words, we dance, wave, scream, and point. Words are great, but the immediate outcome has a higher priority than finding the right verbal vehicle.

Avoid the very human trap of finding the perfect word and instead show a prototyped solution.