Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


Why the Future is up to Us

We live in a fast-paced world where technology changes our lives daily. For some it’s invigorating. For others it’s intimidating if not terrifying. With news about AI (artificial intelligence) getting smarter and more accurate, self-driving cars and trucks becoming more reliable, and neural networks communicating directly with people’s brains, it’s easy to see how people are getting nervous.

That change is coming is inevitable. What we do with it and how we handle it will determine our future.

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Creating your best year ever

“The future is in your hands, but only if you act today.”

Today starts a new year with new opportunities ahead. This time of year brings us to analyze what we accomplished in the past year and look ahead to what we want to undertake in the new year. It’s common to look ahead and set goals, or “new year’s resolutions,” for what we want to achieve.

The problem with this approach usually comes about two to three weeks into the first month. We get distracted and lose touch with what we planned for the year. By the time March comes around, the goals we set in January are long forgotten.

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2021: What Will Your Legacy Be?

Guest post by Bill Jensen

The next five years are likely to be the most crucial in your entire career.

If I’m not careful in how I pose the question, when I ask leaders about their legacy, I might get canned retirement speech. “I want to leave this business prepared for the future and knowing that I made a difference.”

But as our conversation continues, the import of considering one’s legacy within just the next five years becomes clear. This is an era of transformative disruption.

What keeps many leaders awake is being Uber’d — experiencing massive disruptions in everything they do that seem to come out of nowhere – disruptions that can uproot entire businesses and industries before they’ve finished their morning cup of coffee. Continue reading

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Why leaders need a long-term vision

Why are you in business? What drives your daily activities—your long-term vision or making the numbers this quarter? If you’re a board member, do you incentivize your executives to make a long-term contribution for the company or to keep the shareholders happy this quarter? If these questions cause you any discomfort, your priorities might be out-of-line with your core values.

In a recent interview with McKinsey & Company, Bill George—Harvard Business School professor and former Medtronic CEO—said the following: Anyone who’s willing to postpone the long-term strategies to make the short-term numbers is in route to going out of business.

In the full interview—Bill George on rethinking capitalism—Mr. George discusses important topics including insisting on the long term, managing expectations and creating lasting value. I recommend you spend a few minutes listening to Bill’s interview; it’s well worth your time.

The Product Management Perspective: One of the key aspects of product management is creating a long-term vision for a product/portfolio. Some are uncomfortable putting too much effort in looking to the future because things change. The core of this discomfort is not so much that things might change, as it is that they will be perceived as being wrong.

Don’t let the possibility that you’ll be wrong stop you from looking towards the future. Regardless of whether you end up right or wrong (or anywhere in between), the efforts you put into planning for the future will pay off. You will learn things you would have missed had you not tried. Be the leader—the CEO—of your product and create a long-term vision of how it will create value for your customers.


Book Review: The Three Laws of Performance

Three Laws of Performance“One of the flaws of management in this day and age is that we fragment accountabilities and then everyone focuses on their own piece.” In The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life, authors Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan discuss laws that govern individual, group and organizational behavior. They lay out a framework to help leaders at any level envision a positive future filled with success, based on the Three Laws of Performance:

  1. How people perform correlates to how situations occur to them. The first law addresses why things occur to people and how taking the time to see things from their perspective changes their behavior. There are two elements: performance and how a situation occurs. “These two are perfectly matched, always, with no exceptions.”
  2. How a situation occurs arises in language. How a situation occurs is inseparable from language. “Language is the means through which your future is already written. It is also the means through which it can be rewritten.”
  3. Future-based language transforms how situations occur to people. Future-based language, also called generative language, has the power to create new futures, to craft vision, and to eliminate the blinders that are preventing people from seeing possibilities. The most powerful language comes through declaration. Whether itʼs about standing for human rights, or putting a man on the moon, or signing the Declaration of Independence, generative (future-based) speaking causes new realities to come into being.

This book is especially pertinent to those seeking to grow their leadership skills and capabilities, but feel they are so far behind that it’s not worth the effort to even try. Zaffron and Logan show you how to change your mindset and use future-based language to become an effective leader.

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers spend much of their time looking toward the future; they speak “future-based language” when discuss markets and write requirements. I recommend you read this book to learn more about the science of future-based language; it will help you hone your skills as a forward-looking market expert.

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Time value of experience

Time value of experienceTime value of money is a widely understood and accepted concept. At its most basic level the time value of money demonstrates that, all things being equal, it is better to have a fixed amount of money today, rather than an equal amount in the future. The concepts get more complex with topics such as compounding interest, present value of annuities, future value of growing annuities, etc. (Check out Wikipedia for a detailed description.) Receiving a fixed amount of money today, rather than waiting, is valuable because you can put the money to work doing things to build wealth and prepare for the future.

That brings me to the time value of experience. What if you were to look at life experiences as if they were money? They bring value and provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to move forward and progress through your life. Experiences provide a type of life currency. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to experience things today rather than to postpone them to a later date. They will be more valuable to you now than in the future. Granted, there are many experiences you cannot control. However, for the things you can control, the sooner you have the experiences the quicker you can invest them to improving your life and to helping others. Since leadership is largely based on experience, it makes sense to acquire as much experience as soon as possible.

Take advantage of every opportunity to do things that you know you want to as soon as you can. Think about something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but for whatever reason you’ve postponed. Commit to yourself that you will do it. Having that experience today will most likely be more valuable than having the same experience in the future.