Category Archives: Startup Lessons

product development process like mountain climbing

The Product Development Process at Wistia and Why it Resembles a Mountain-Climbing Team

Maintaining your agility while simultaneously making the product development process predictable is one of the biggest challenges any product leader faces.

It was about a year ago that we realized:

  • we were failing at this, and
  • our laissez-faire, do-what-you-will take on project management was the culprit.

This was hard for us to accept because our lack of rigid project management was exactly what had allowed us to build a great product in the first place. As time went on and both our team and product grew, the project management philosophy that once propelled us ahead had begun to slow us down.

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Confirmation Bias product management

Confirmation Bias in Product Management (And How to Avoid It)

Confirmation bias is one of the most pervasive tendencies in human nature.

Bestselling author and professor, Michael Shermer sums up the reason why we are so susceptible to confirmation bias: “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.”

Confirmation bias is the human tendency to interpret new information as a confirmation of our existing beliefs and ignore it if it challenges our existing beliefs. For example, if you see a glowing object in the night sky and you’re a firm believer in UFOs, you might be convinced you’ve just spotted an alien spacecraft.

The presence of confirmation bias has been well-documented in everything from the 2016 U.S. election to scientific research. And product managing, growth hacking and analytics are definitely not immune to it. Here are some important examples of confirmation bias in product management and analytics and suggestions for how to avoid it.

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Recap: GrowthHackers AMA With Spenser Skates

A couple months ago, Amplitude CEO Spenser Skates did an AMA with one of our favorite online communities GrowthHackers. GrowthHackers is a network of growth professionals looking to share their knowledge and collaborate on growth best practice; obviously we were excited to answer questions about user behavior analytics! Spenser also used the opportunity to share his personal experience as an entrepreneur, growing a SaaS business and his thoughts on analytics as a key driver of retention and growth.

If you missed out on the AMA, this recap highlights some of the really great questions we received!

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Why You Need to Keep Ego Out of Analytics

According to The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook after his ex-girlfriend broke up with him. It was his ego, the movie argues, that both drove him to succeed and doomed him to alienate those around him.

One of Facebook’s most important early team members paints a very different portrait of Zuckerberg. “I’ve never met anyone at such a young age who would truly listen,” Chamath Palihapitiya said of his management style, “In fact, he doesn’t need to talk a lot. He just sits there and listens.”

Zuckerberg takes in every possible perspective, Palihapitiya says, before he makes a call. In short, he’s pretty far from the bullheaded stereotype The Social Network portrays him as. But he also started a billion-dollar business from his dorm room, and that’s not something you accomplish if you’re a terribly modest human being.

Everyone has an ego. The key is learning to rein it in. “You can be confident,” as Palihapitiya points out, “You can be arrogant. It doesn’t really matter. But you can’t believe your own BS.”

We tend to think of data as objective, as neutral information, but that’s not really true. Nowhere is believing in your own BS more dangerous than your analytics dashboard. Your ego will cloud your judgment, you’ll make all the wrong decisions, and you will never understand why.

Go into your analytics with your ego, and you erase any chance you have of understanding what makes your business tick and what you have to do to grow it.

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