Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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Book Review: The 1% Solution

“The average difference between the gold medal winner and fourth place is just 1 percent.” In any type of competition the margin of victory is slim, and it can seem overwhelming to even try to compete. The key premise in The 1% Solution: How to Make Your Next 30 Days the Best Ever is that while not everyone can be great, everyone can be better than they are right now. While you may never be 100% better than all the others, you can be 1% better at hundreds of things. 

Motivation is a key principle discussed in the book. Motivation leads to action, which leads to more motivation. The more you get done, the more motivated you are to do things. So you do more things, and you get even more motivated. The best way to increase motivation is to increase action.

Author Tom Connellan uses the “business fable” style for The 1% Solution, interlacing actionable ideas with a fictional plot. The main character is Ken, a soccer dad who goes on a journey to find out how to improve his execution and increase his success. He learns about key success factors such as the following:

  • The difference between exceptional and EXCEPTIONALLY exceptional = 1%.
  • You can’t be 100% better than everyone else, but you can be 1% better at hundreds of things.
  • You may not win all the time, but you can have a winner’s heart if you do something better today than you did it yesterday.
  • Not everyone can be great, but everyone can be better than they are right now.
  • Aim to be swifter, higher, stronger — not swiftest, highest, strongest.

You have to start from where you are. Doing your best in the present must be the rule. Everyone who spends time in deliberate practice improves his or her performance. Focus on how great it will be when you succeed, rather than on what will happen if you fail. An finally, take time to “recharge your batteries.” Get at least eight hours of sleep each night and take regular vacations.

While the story line is good, there are a few parts that are a bit banal and hard to follow. However, the principles taught throughout the story are excellent, and Connellan brings them out with sidebars and figures that convey the ideas powerfully. If you feel stuck in your current situation and are looking for a shot in the arm, I highly recommend The 1% Solution.

The Product Management Perspective: The rigor required in product management can lead to stress and frustration. We all have days where it feels like we just can’t quite get over the top and feel like we’re succeeding. The principles taught in The 1% Solution apply nicely to PM and if applied will make a significant difference in your motivation and outlook on the future.