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Issue #13: Tools, Frameworks, and Best Practices and the books people wrote about them
aka Reflections from this week’s coaching calls
This week’s coaching conversations really highlighted for me how much stock a lot of us Product builders put on the things that other people/experts/thought leaders/people-who-wrote-the-books tell us to be “best practices”. So much so that we treat them as rules or templates.
As if there are boxes we should be checking, or processes we should be following, and tools and frameworks we should be using. Should. Should. Should.
I remember being so conscious about these “best practices”. I still am on some days.
“We’re not doing OKRs properly!”
“We should be doing dual track discovery!”
“We should be doing scrum! Or Kanban! Or maybe Scrumban?”
Only to be usually followed by frustration, with a dash of disappointment and some damage to my self-esteem. Because they usually didn’t turn out, for me, the way that the books say they would. And sometimes it’s so easy to put the blame on my environment. My organisation and their wrong mindset. My stakeholders and their lack of open mindedness. Or myself - because maybe I just wasn’t really good enough to make these “best practices” work for me!
But over time, after a lot of reflecting and iterating with my peers and my team, I realised that we weren’t really the problem. Although I’m not saying that these people/experts/thought leaders/people-who-wrote-the-books were the problem either.
But when I was looking at these “best practices” as absolute, or that they need to be done in the way they were written - I was forgetting one important detail: my reality and context. That at the end of the day, behind all these “best practices” is a context or a reality that these other people/experts/thought leaders/people-who-wrote-books were living in, when they used the tools or discovered the framework that turned their product building lives around.
And as wide and plenty as those realities and experiences may be, they are still not going to be a 100% fit to our individual and unique experiences.
Most of the time, THAT is the reason why their advices and tools and frameworks don’t always work.
It doesn’t mean that their advices are not useful. They still are. Absolutely. But, I think that there’s something behind these “best practices” that’s even more important for us to learn:
That the people wrote about them were optimising for their situation.
They didn’t optimise to make a tool or process fit their reality. They optimised for their reality and found THE tool or process to make their reality better instead.
So now here’s my advice (later I will write a book about this):
Before getting caught up in the framework, the tools, and the list of best practices that you may feel like you need to follow to a T; and then later get into a frenzy about because it didn’t make things any better:
First understand what you’re optimising for. Identify the challenges that are blocking you from achieving your goal. While acknowledging the context that you are in.
And if the best practices don’t work. How about creating your own practices that work best for you?
And since sharing is caring - What’s your best practice?
Got questions, feedback, violent reactions? Or other learnings you want to share with other human beings? Leave them in the comments below👇
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