Every Critical Metric Needs a Counter Metric

Giff Constable management, metrics

The other day I tweeted, “Every critical metric at a company needs a counter-metric to prevent the wrong kind of optimization.” It got a reaction and I thought to expand on the topic. Have you seen any of these examples of metrics + reward systems gone awry? The marketing and demandgen teams are tasked with bringing on leads, so they …

Seinfeld, Business Models, and Culture Shifts

Giff Constable business models, management

I recently watched an old video on the making of the hit TV show Seinfeld. What struck me is how both the creators, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, and the network executives seemed to be amazed that it ever got on the air. Network executives kept on telling them what to change and do, and the two creators kept on …

Rebuilding Trust in a Product Organization

Giff Constable management, product management, startups

When I first joined Axial, the product and engineering side of things was pretty broken, and there was a serious absence of trust. The team didn’t trust leadership, and leadership didn’t trust the team. The rest of the business — actually, even worse, customers — didn’t trust product/engineering. The culprits may sound familiar to some of you: Features took months to ship, if they …

Control Your Narrative

Giff Constable leadership, management

A former colleague of mine, Anil Podduturi, used to exhort everyone that worked for him to “control your narrative.” My interpretation of his saying is that we all need to get pro-active about how we are perceived. The hard truth is that people make judgements. They will make judgements about you as an individual or an entire group you lead. …

10 Rules for Startup Leaders

Giff Constable leadership, management

I’ve got a new group of managers reporting to me today, and it made me think explicitly through what I value and expect: lead by example push decisions down whenever possible be inside the team circle, not outside of it face the hard decisions, and don’t dither doing so lift the team with positive energy, but keep it real be …

Trying the “User Manual to Me” to Good Effect

Giff Constable culture, management

A few months ago, Brad Feld wrote about a cultural exercise that I just tried with my team to very good effect (Brad in turn had referenced this post from David Politis). Instead of taking pysch tests and then trying to make sense of the results, the team answers a few written questions as honestly as possible. Before I get …

Lessons for New Managers of Creative Teams

Giff Constable leadership, management, product management

I recently took on a new hobby: singing in our church choir. I’m a total noob at the singing part, but it is clear that a successful choir is greater than the sum of its parts. Great outcomes require great leadership, and not just about music but also about people. It got me thinking about teams and leadership. Exceptional individual …

How your team’s qualitative metrics act as the canary in the coal mine

Giff Constable management, product management

There are three qualitative metrics I find interesting to use with a product team to help spot, and deal with, changes that could be opportunities or problems. 1. Retrospectives: scoring the “sprint” My former colleagues from Edgecase used to have every product team “score” how things felt since their last retro on a 1 to 10 scale. They didn’t over-think it …

Getting Tactical: Product Team Working Agreements

Giff Constable management, product management

We talk a lot about how assumptions in business can kill you. But assumptions on a team can do the same. One of the best way to preserve a transparent, low-politics culture is to keep everything as visible and explicit as possible. This applies to strategy, vision, and values, but also to working methods. We were forced to deal with …