Hey there! I'm Will Lawrence, product manager at Facebook. Product Life is my weekly newsletter where I write about product strategy, career advice and frameworks I'm using to navigate life. If this sounds like a good time, sign up so you don't miss any articles.
tl;dr without executing a plan religiously to the parameters set at the outset, you will never know if the strategy worked. This principle is known as Perfect Execution. Applying it can help you learn quicker and move closer to your goals.
Imagine this: you set a goal to lose 15 pounds. Your friends have been raving about Keto (a low carb, high fat diet) for weight-loss so you decide to try it for two months. On week three, you cave and devour two pizzas from Dominos. On week six you go for an all-you-eat breadsticks at Olive Garden. The two month mark rolls around and you lost 5 pounds - 66% less than your goal.
Question: was Keto a good strategy to hit your weight loss goal?
The answer is that you don't know. Not only did you not hit your goal, but you have not validated if Keto is a nutrition plan that works for weight loss. What's worse is that you are likely going to think that you tested Keto and make an inaccurate claim that it's a bad nutrition plan.
This story illustrates a principle of product development called Perfect Execution. In order to know if a strategy worked, you need to execute religiously to the parameters set at the outset.
This is crucially important when building a product. Perfect execution can help you and your team:
Validate hypotheses - Many strategies rely on hypotheses. In our keto example, one hypothesis may be that changing your diet alone (without exercise) is enough to lose 15 lbs in 2 months. To know if this is true, you need to execute perfectly to collect accurate data about the strength of that hypothesis. Only then can you accept or reject the hypothesis.
Identify gaps in your strategy - If you execute perfectly and still fall short of your goal, what else do you need to do? Identifying and filling these gaps will help you and your team move closer to your goal.
Remove subjectivity from the results - You may have hated every minute of Keto, but the results of a perfectly executed strategy can help you be objective about its ability to achieve your goal.
How can you execute perfectly in the future?
Set your goal, strategy and timeframe at the outset of your commitment
Goal: lose 15 pounds.
Strategy: Keto (low carbs, high fat foods)
Timeframe: 2 months (end on Jan 15th, 2021)
Identify challenges and mitigates ahead of time
Potential challenge #1: When I get home late, I really crave carbs.
Mitigate: Eat 1/2 cup of almonds before going out on a late night
Next time you create a plan, focus on executing perfectly. It may sound obvious, but if you begin with the intent to follow-through and do so religiously, you are setting yourself up for success right from the start.
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